Was I Misinformed?

Oct 9 2016 - 10:00am

File and Suspend. I am 63, my wife will be 65 in Jan, 2017. She is not a US citizen. She has a green card since 1974 when we got married. She has not worked enough to receive any SS benefit on her own. She was going to sign up for Medicare but we were told that she does not qualify for Medicare on her own. When I turn 65 and sign up for Medicare then she will qualify under mine.

We were told that if I sign up for SS at age 66 (my full retirement age) and she will get 1/2 of my benefit. I can then suspend mine and she will continue to receive 1/2 of mine. If I work until age 70 I then file for mine and get 32% more then I would at age 66 and if I pass before she does then she will step up to mine (what I would get at age 70) and her 1/2 will go away.

I've read on-line that file and suspend has been done away with yet I was told by an individual in the SS office that I can file and suspend when I am 66.

Was I misinformed?


Yes, at least in part. If you voluntarily suspend your benefits between ages 66 & 70, your wife will not be able to receive her spousal benefits during that time. This is based on the new voluntary suspension rules passed by Congress last year (https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/suspendfaq.html).

The other thing that you were apparently misinformed about is your wife's Medicare eligibility. Since you are already at least age 62 and insured for Social Security, your wife should be able to get Medicare coverage starting with the month she turns 65 based on your record. You are not required to apply for benefits in order for her to qualify under this provision (https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/poms.nsf/lnx/0600801008). Your wife should re-contact Social Security ASAP to apply for Medicare under your work record. Refer them to section HI 00801.008 of the Social Security program operations manual (POMS) if they again tell you that she's ineligible.

As for monthly Social Security benefits, you may wish to consider running the maximization software available on this website in order to determine the best filing strategy for you and your wife.

Best, Jerry