Was The File And Suspend Rule Abolished?

Category: 
Dec 31 2018 - 4:24pm

Hi. I read the updated edition of Get What's Yours before Christmas and I confess that I may not have retained some information that I need. I am confused about the "File and Suspend" rule. Was it abolished by the most recent Obama era legislation, or can I still claim it when I turn 66 on October 27, 2019? I was born on 10/27/53 and am single -- never married. No dependents.

Thanks.
A

Hi A,

The file and suspend strategy wasn't abolished by the 2015 Social Security amendments, but it was changed to eliminate most of it's advantages (https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/suspendfaq.html). However, since you've never been married and have no dependents, it's unlikely that you would ever have benefitted from using the strategy.

Prior to the 2015 amendments, the file and suspend strategy was used mainly to enable family members such as eligible spouses and children to draw auxiliary benefits even when the benefits of the worker on whose record they were drawing were voluntarily suspended. That allowed a worker to earn delayed retirement credits (DRC) from full retirement age (FRA) until age 70 while still permitting benefits to be paid to eligible family members. Starting with voluntary suspension requests filed on or after April 30 2016, though, if a worker suspends his or her benefits then any auxiliary benefits payable to eligible family members (other than divorced spouses) are also suspended.

If you wish to delay drawing your benefits for the purpose of earning DRCs starting at FRA, you can still do so. You could either file for and suspend your benefits when you reach FRA, or you could simply not apply for your benefits until you actually want to start drawing them. Either way, you'll earn DRCs that will increase your benefit rate by 2/3rds of 1% for each month, or 8% per year, that you don't draw your benefits from FRA until you reach age 70.

You may want to consider using our software to fully explore and compare all of your filing options so that you can choose the best possible strategy for claiming your benefits.

Best, Jerry