5 Social Security tips for couples

By Lucy Lazarony

For the Deseret News

Published: Thursday, Aug. 29 2013 12:05 p.m. MDT

4. Consider a file-and-suspend approach ...

Using a file-and-suspend strategy is one way couples can reap an oft-overlooked perk: Social Security spouse's benefits.

For example, if both spouses are eligible for benefits and one opts to file and suspend while the other doesn’t file at all, it allows the nonfiling spouse to claim a spouse's benefit as both of them continue to let their regular benefits grow. If the couple intended to delay collecting anyway, this monthly spouse's benefit effectively equals free money.

"A client recently used this strategy where the husband decided to file and suspend his benefit at age 66 so that the wife could take a spousal benefit until they both begin taking their own benefits at age 70," Koehnen says. "She is now getting about $1,100 per month for the next four years, which will result in over $55,000 of additional funds."

5. ... or a file-and-restrict strategy

A strategy similar to file-and-suspend is called file-and-restrict. This approach also bring spouse's benefits into the mix, but unlike file-and-suspend, one of the spouses must be collecting his or her regular benefits in this scenario.

"If you are 66 and your spouse is collecting Social Security based on her earnings history, you can file and restrict your application and qualify for your spousal benefit based on her earnings history," Tucker says. "By doing this, you will collect a spousal benefit while you postpone collecting your own benefit, which continues to grow."

Then, when your regular benefit has grown to a level that satisfies you, you can withdraw your restriction and begin collecting that amplified benefit for the rest of your life.

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