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social security question/need help please
Old 04-03-2017, 09:33 PM   #1
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social security question/need help please

I am a new member here to the forum and am excited about the prospect of retiring early. I have a very specific question about social security and thought the wise members of the forum might be able to help. I've had multiple calls with the social security office and keep getting conflicting information.

Here are the details of the situation:

I was born in 1952. I was married for 28 yrs.
I am divorced for 14 years.
I would like to take social security at age 66 as I understand I am entitled to 50% of ex husband's social security ( approx $1200.) The amount of my ex husband's 50% social security is less than my whole amount at age 66 ( approx $1400.)
I want to know if I can do the above and then defer/postpone my social security until age 70 so that my social security benefit would accrue 8% yearly.
So that age 70, I would collect approx $1800.)
I have had 2 answers. One yes I can do so.
And one stating no I cannot do so as 50% of ex husband's benefit needs to be less than my full amount.

I would love to hear anyone's thoughts
Thank you

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Old 04-03-2017, 09:47 PM   #2
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Chuckanut's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: West of the Mississippi
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Here is some advice from Tom Margenau who writes a column on SS

File and Restrict to get benefits from ex spouse

Q: I just turned 66. I am still working and plan to work indefinitely. I want to suspend my own benefits until age 70 and file for spousal benefits on my ex-husband's record. He is 68 and getting his Social Security already. We were married for 30 years and have been divorced for 10 years. I never remarried. I called Social Security's 800 number. The agent told me that I cannot file and suspend. She said that filing strategy was eliminated by Congress. I told her that according to your column, I still could do this. She said: "Who are you going to believe? Me? Or a newspaper columnist?" She told me my only option was to file for my own retirement benefits. I told her I didn't want to do that. She said there was nothing else I could do and hung up. What should I do?
A: You should call them back and hope you get a more knowledgeable telephone rep! But when you call back, I'm going to recommend that you use different terminology. If you used the same language with the phone clerk as you did in your email to me, I can partly understand the confusion.
You said you want to "suspend" your benefits. Technically, that is not what you want to do. That probably implied to the Social Security agent that you wanted to file for your own Social Security benefits and then immediately suspend them. There are several reasons, not necessary to explain here, why people used to do that. But the ability to use that "file and suspend" strategy ended on April 30.
What you want to do is called "file and restrict." Or to use more precise government-ese, you want to file for benefits, but restrict the scope of your application to spousal benefits only. Near-term retirees still have four more years to implement this file and restrict strategy.
I know this may all sound like just silly jargon, but I'm pretty sure your use of the "file and suspend" language threw off the agent you were talking to. Still, she should have figured out what you wanted to do and been able to take care of you. So call them back, use the right wording and hope you get a telephone rep who knows what he or she is doing!

Q: I am about to turn 66. I want to file and restrict, taking benefits on my husband's record and saving my own until age 70. I went to the Social Security office to do this. I brought along one of your past columns and showed it to the clerk who was taking care of us. I explained precisely what I wanted to do. He said that because my own benefit was more than half of my husband's record, I could not take benefits on his account. I continued to press him on this. He spent about 15 minutes looking things up on his computer and eventually told me I simply could not do it. When I persisted even further, he finally went to talk to a supervisor. When he came back, he said I was right after all and proceeded to take my spousal claim. He said he had worked for SSA for 10 years and that my situation was very unusual and that he had never encountered anything like it.
A: I sure am glad you were so persistent. And unlike the person who sent in the first question I used in this column, you used all the right terminology. I am really surprised that someone who has worked for SSA for 10 years had never heard of this practice. It has been all the rage among people pushing age 66 for years now. But it's just further evidence of the point I made at the beginning of this column. SSA gets high marks for doing routine Social Security business very well. But if the emails to my column are any indication, a lot of their representatives get a failing grade when it comes to these more complex situations.
So let that be a lesson to other readers of this column. If you are trying to do something that you know is a legitimate transaction, and the clerk that was assigned to you seems puzzled or confused, ask to speak to a supervisor.
Q: I'm very concerned about the timing to apply for my Social Security benefits. I will be 66 in September. I want to make sure I get my full benefit. I do not want to accept any reduced retirement checks. I went to a Social Security office this week. But I am afraid that if I apply for benefits now, they will set me up with reduced retirement to start this month. The Social Security clerk I talked to said there would be no problem and that he would set things up to begin in September. I didn't trust him and walked out. Now I plan to wait. But on the other hand, I'm worried that if I wait until September, that it might be too late. What should I do?
A: You are overthinking and worrying too much about this. And this is a good example of a simple situation that SSA does very well — meaning the Social Security rep was advising you correctly. You should apply for your Social Security retirement benefits a couple months before you want them to begin. In other words, doing so now is just fine. As part of the application process, they are going to ask you when you want your benefits to start. As long as you answer "September" (the month you turn 66) you will be just fine. So you can go back to your Social Security office and file your claim. Or you can apply for your Social Security benefits online at
If you have a Social Security question, Tom Margenau has the answer. Contact him at To find out more about Tom Margenau and to read past columns and see features from other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at Home | Creators Syndicate.

The worst decisions are usually made in times of anger and impatience.
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Old 04-03-2017, 10:00 PM   #3
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Chuckanut, when was the stuff you quoted written?

My initial thought was that if the OP filed then she would get the greater of the benefit based on her work record or 50% of her ex-husbands benefit... she can't file for spousal benefits and delay her benefits. The link below seems to suggest that too but I'm not sure if she might be grandfathered under the old rules since she turned 62 before 1/2/2016.

Timing of Multiple Benefits (also called “Deemed Filing”)

What was the loophole? The law provides incentives to delay claiming retirement benefits: monthly benefits grow larger for each month you delay receiving retirement benefits between full retirement age (currently 66) and 70. The loophole allowed some married individuals to start receiving spousal benefits at full retirement age, while letting their own retirement benefit grow by delaying it.

How is the law changing? Under existing law, if you are eligible for benefits both as a retired worker and as a spouse (or divorced spouse) in the first month you want your benefits to begin and are not yet full retirement age, you must apply for both benefits. You will receive the higher of the two benefits. This requirement is called “deemed filing” because when you apply for one benefit you are “deemed” to have also applied for the other.

Under the new law deemed filing is extended to apply to those at full retirement age and beyond. In addition, deemed filing may occur in any month after becoming entitled to retirement benefits. For example, if you begin receiving your retirement benefit and only later become eligible for a spousal benefit (or vice versa), you will be “deemed” to have applied for the second benefit as soon as you are eligible for it. Your monthly payment will be the higher of the two benefit amounts.

What is the rationale for this change? Historically, spousal benefits were designed to be paid only to the extent they exceeded any benefit the spouse earned based on his or her own work record. This change in the law preserves the fairness of the incentives to delay, but it means that you cannot receive one type of benefit while at the same time earning a bonus for delaying the other benefit.

Who will be affected? If you turn 62 on or after January 2, 2016, and will be eligible for benefits both as a retired worker and as a spouse (or divorced spouse), then the new law applies to you. Deemed filing applies to retirement benefits, not to survivor’s benefits. So, if you are a widow or widower, you may start your survivor benefit independently of your retirement benefit if you restrict the scope of your application. There are also some exceptions to deemed filing. For example, deemed filing does not apply if you receive spouse's benefits and are also entitled to disability, or if you are receiving spousal benefits because you are caring for the retired worker’s child. If you have questions about your specific situation, contact Social Security.

How and when is Social Security implementing this change? We have already implemented this change with specific instructions to our field office employees because the law applies to those who attain age 62 on January 2, 2016 or later. We are continuing to update our website and materials.

Example 1: Maria turns age 62 after January 1, 2016 and her husband, Joe, is 65. They have each worked enough years to earn a retirement benefit. In March of 2020, Maria has reached her full retirement age and files for benefits. Maria is eligible for a spousal benefit on Joe’s record. Maria must file for both benefits. She can no longer file only for the spousal benefit and delay filing for her own retirement. She will receive a combination of the two benefits that equals the higher amount.

Example 2: Jennie is a 62-year-old widow. She is eligible for retirement benefits based on her work history, and she is also eligible for survivor benefits based on her deceased husband’s record. She starts her survivor benefit this year, restricts the scope of her application to widow’s benefits, and does not start her own retirement benefit, allowing it to grow. At age 70, she starts her own increased retirement benefit, which she will receive for the rest of her life. The new law does not affect her because deemed filing does not apply to widow(er)s. Jennie will receive the higher of the two benefits.
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