Social Security Starves Us Slowly as the GOP Tries to Kill Us by Gutting Health Care
Note to married readers who were born before Jan. 2, 1954:
If you are married and both born before that deadline, you can still do a kind of lesser version of the now terminated "file-and-suspend" option. It's called a "restricted application" for Social Security spousal benefits, and it can help at least one, and maybe both financially strapped older workers in a couple hold off on collecting their benefits until they reach 70, when they can start collecting the maximum benefit to which their working years of paying FICA taxes entitles them.
Here's the deal: If possible, the older of two married people should try to wait until 70 to perform this operation, though it can be done at 66, locking in a lower benefit check (deciding when to do this requires going through the math on different age options). Once that person is collecting benefits, the younger spouse, if also age 66, can file what is called a "restricted application" for spousal benefits. This means he or she would start receiving 50% of the other person's level of benefits, meaning the couple will be receiving 150% of the senior retiree's benefit amount. When the second spouse reaches 70, and can collect maximum benefits on his or her own account, she or he can switch over to that account. The difference between this method and the old file-and-suspend option is that the first person to retire in this option is locked into whatever benefit level was available at the age he or she filed for benefits. (Of course in any case benefits paid are adjusted -- unfairly as described above, but adjusted in any event -- for inflation each year.)
Note that this option will remain available through Jan 1, 2020 for those couples where the younger spouse still isn't 66, but will reach that age as late as that deadline date. (Spousal benefits can be filed for at age 62, and even younger in the case of a spouse who is caring for children, but the catch is if you file for them before you're 66 yourself, your own retirement benefit will be calculated based upon the age you filed for the spousal benefits, unlike in the "restricted application," where your own benefit amount is calculated based on the age when you switch from spousal benefits over to your own account.)
If you have questions, go to a local Social Security office and have them explain "restricted application for spousal benefits" and to work out the different filing age calculated results for you to consider. They'll do it, but only if you ask. Congress ruled that Social Security workers shouldn't give advice -- only answer specific questions.
Sadly, President Obama and Congress only left this option available to those born before 1/2/1954, but if you lost out but know any couple that meets that requirement alert them about this and warn them not to file for retirement early and blow the opportunity to boost their total benefit payments substantially! You should at least deserve being treated to dinner for doing so. And by the way, if this information proves helpful to you and your spouse, in lieu of lunch feel free to put a little donation in the TCBH! tip jar!)