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October 1, 2014 | by Chris Stein, CFP®, Finance Instructor at Colorado State University
File and Suspend for Couples

When you're done reading, be sure to listen to our audio blog below!

File and Suspend is a Social Security claiming strategy that was made possible via the Senior Citizens’ Freedom to Work Act of 2000.  Under this provision Social Security recipients are allowed to file for then subsequently suspend their retirement benefits.  By suspending one’s benefit they can take advantage of delayed retirement credits up to age 70.  But many ask us why they would file and suspend rather than simply delay filing for benefits at age 70 if that is their goal.  The simple answer is spousal benefits.  If your spouse wants to claim a benefit on your record they must be of eligible age AND you must have filed for your own benefit.  If you delay filing for benefits to age 70 you will deny your spouse the ability to file for a spousal benefit until that time.  The major difference in spousal benefits compared to regular retirement benefits is that the spousal benefit does not continue to grow past one’s full retirement age.  Therefore there is no advantage to waiting to age 70 to claim spousal benefits.  With the file and suspend strategy one spouse can effectively delay receiving benefits to any age up to 70 while unlocking the door to let their spouse receive spousal benefits.  Please listen to the audio blog for more of a discussion on the file and suspend strategy.

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