My mother is 69 this year (1949) and father is 65 this year (1953). My mother applied for early benefits at age 62. Since my mother is older than my father she was unable to claim spousal benefits which would have been a greater benefit than receiving benefits based on her earnings. My father plans to retire at age 66. I just learned about file and suspend - possibly a bit too late. Can my father file and suspend so that my mother can start collecting spousal benefits now? Or should they just wait to file until my father reaches full retirement age next year?
Thanks in advance.
No, your father couldn't file for and suspend his benefits in order to permit your mother to receive spousal benefits. That was a permissible option in certain cases for people who reached age 66 before April 30 2016, but the 2015 amendments passed by Congress eliminated that option for people who turned 66 after April 29 2016 (https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/suspendfaq.html).
It sounds like one option that your parents haven't considered is for your father to file just for spousal benefits only on your mother's record when he reaches age 66. That would permit him to draw 50% of your mother's full retirement age rate (PIA) for 4 years before switching to his own record at age 70. His benefit rate would then be 32% higher at age 70 than it would if he starts drawing his retirement benefits at age 66. However, your mother wouldn't be able to draw spousal benefits until your father started drawing his own retirement benefits.
Your parents may want to strongly consider using our maximization software to compare their various options and determine which filing strategy would likely be best in their case.