Ask Larry

Were We Given Incorrect Information?

My wife turned 66 on Feb. 2016 and I turned 65 on June 2016. I contacted SSA about filing "file and suspend" on Nov 2015 and again on Feb 2016 (for myself ) so that my wife can start collecting half of my benefit on the same month when she turned 66. I was told both times that I was not qualified since I was 64 year old at the time. Your recent article on Forbes seems to suggest that the representatives of SSA were wrong. What would be the best way for us to re-approach SSA? (July 3, 2016)


You must be at least full retirement age, which is 66 for both you and your wife, in order to file and suspend. So, if you were trying to file and suspend your benefit in order for your wife to receive a spousal benefit, you were not misinformed by SSA. You cannot file and suspend until you turn age 66 in June 2017. Since that's long past the April 29 2016 deadline, there is no point in your doing that.

On the other hand, your wife was age 66 prior to the April 29 2016 deadline, so assuming she's insured on her own record she could have filed and suspended on her account prior to the deadline, which would have enabled you to draw just a spousal benefit on her account when you reach age 66, her to start drawing at age 70, and you to switch to your own account at age 70. If that's what you were attempting to do and were given misinformation by SSA, then you should follow the advice given in the Forbes column ( Specifically, when you re-contact SSA you would need to give them full details of when your wife tried to file and suspend, and what misinformation you were given that dissuaded her from filing.

Keep in mind that the best filing strategy for both you and your wife depends on numerous variables, so the strategy outlined above may not be optimal. You may wish to consider running the maximization software available on this website in order to sort out your options and make the best possible decision.

Best, Jerry

Jul 8 2016 - 12:15pm
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