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Social Security: Should I File and Suspend Before 4/30/2016?

I’ve been getting a lot of questions from readers this month about the upcoming “file and suspend” deadline. So let’s go through this one final time, as succinctly and clearly as possible.

First, let’s make sure we’re clear on the deadline itself, as there has been a lot of misinformation on that topic. If you request suspension of benefits by 4/29/16 or earlier, the old rules will apply to your request. If the SSA receives your request to suspend benefits on 4/30/16 or later, the new rules will apply.

If you meet all of the following requirements, it likely makes sense for you to file and suspend (i.e., file for your own retirement benefit and ask to have it suspended) prior to 4/30/2016.

One: You attain* full retirement age prior to the deadline. (You cannot request suspension of benefits until you have reached full retirement age.)

Two: You plan to delay your own retirement benefit beyond full retirement age. (If you want to actually receive your retirement benefit, suspending it obviously isn’t a good idea.)

Three: You want somebody else (e.g., your spouse) to be able to receive a benefit based on your work record prior to the point at which you actually start receiving your retirement benefit. Or you want to preserve the ability to retroactively unsuspend later as a “change your mind” strategy.

Four: You do not intend to receive spousal benefits on your spouse’s work record between your FRA and age 70. (If you want your own retirement benefit to continue growing while you collect spousal benefits, you have to file a “restricted application” for just spousal benefits. But if you file and suspend, you are by definition filing for your own retirement benefit — rather than filing for spousal-only — and that will really mess up your plan.)

*In the world of Social Security, you “attain” an age on the day before your birthday.

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