One question that comes up in retirement planning discussions is when to start drawing social security benefits. The answer to this question will vary from person to person and depends on each situation. However when it comes to a couple, if both of them are full retirement age (66 for most boomers), at least one of them should be collecting Social Security benefits. Money is often left on the table when both parties wait to collect benefits until age 70, when benefits will have increased to the maximum amount. Social Security benefits increase by about 8% a year for every year a person waits after full retirement age, up to age 70.

But the couple actually would have received more in benefits over their lifetime if the spouse with the lower benefit, often the wife, had filed for spousal benefits under her husband’s earnings record at age 66, letting her own benefits grow. She could then switch to her own benefits at age 70 (which would have grown every year she delayed taking it). In the meantime, since the husband is not drawing any benefit, his benefit also grows by every year he waits to take it. This strategy is called “File and Suspend.” To do this, the spouse drawing the spousal benefit must be full retirement age. The husband files for benefits but suspends drawing them. This allows the wife to apply for a spousal benefit based on his earnings.

This option is currently available but may change in the future as Social Security is reformed (and it must be). If you have questions about this just give us a call.


Linda Eden is a Registered Principal offering securities through Cambridge Investment Research, Inc., a Broker/Dealer, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investment Advisor Representative, Cambridge Investment Research Advisors, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor. Legacy Wealth Management, LLC and Cambridge are not affiliated. Cambridge does not offer tax advice.

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