Social Security question answered

Dear Rusty: I am 66 years of age and have not yet claimed Social Security because I want to wait until I’m 70 and get the higher benefit. My wife, who is 68, is already collecting her benefits having started when she reached her full retirement age. One of my friends said that he had filed something called a Restricted Application a few years ago and was collecting spousal benefits now, but when I called my local Social Security office they said that the Restricted Application was no longer available. It just irks me that my friend can do this but I can’t. Have the rules actually changed? Signed: Unhappy about changing rules.

Dear Unhappy: We get this question fairly often now since The Bipartisan Budget Act was signed into law in October of 2015. Under the old rules, if a person first filed for benefits on or after their full retirement age (FRA) and their spouse was already collecting benefits, they could file a Restricted Application for Spousal Benefits Only. That enabled a person whose partner was already collecting benefits to receive spousal benefits only, while allowing their own retirement benefit to accumulate Delayed Retirement Credits (DRCs). DRCs accumulate up to age 70 when the filer can then collect up to 132% of their primary insurance amount, (or PIA - their benefit from their own work record at full retirement age). The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 broadened a rule called “deemed filing”, which states that whenever anyone applies for Social Security benefits they are deemed to be filing for all benefits they are entitled to, e.g., both their own retirement benefits and spousal benefits. The old rule said “deemed filing” applied only to those applying for benefits before their FRA; the new law broadened that rule to include all beneficiaries, effectively eliminating the Restricted Application for spousal benefits only. But there is an important exception, which applies to you.


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