The Social Security Administration has put out an explanation to changes to the so-called “file and suspend” claiming strategy made by a late-2015 budget measure, which the agency called “an unintended loophole primarily used by married couples to gain more money.”
Here’s how the SSA explains the policy in effect now:
“If you’re full retirement age or older and apply for Social Security retirement benefits, you can suspend your benefits for any amount of time up to age 70. You may do this to earn “delayed retirement credits,” which result in a higher benefit payment when you turn 70 or when you request reinstatement of benefits, whichever comes first.
“Under the new law, when you submit a request to suspend your benefits to earn delayed retirement credits on or after April 30, 2016, you will no longer be able to receive spouse’s or widow(er)’s benefits during this voluntary delay period. In addition, if you suspend your benefit, any benefits payable to your spouse and children on your record (except for a divorced spouse) will also be suspended for the same time period.
“There is an exception. A request for voluntary suspension will not suspend a divorced spouse’s benefit. Also, your divorced spouse can receive benefits on your record during this voluntary delay period.”