If you plan on getting a divorce or already have one, then you better check with your local social security office about some new rules Congress put into place that affect the benefits you will receive.
There are two filing strategies used by married couples to enhance their joint benefit amount that are being phased out.
The first is called “file and restrict” and the second is “file and suspend”.
If you were not at least 62 by the end of 2015 you cannot “file and restrict”. This was used to allow an individual of full retirement age to limit or restrict the benefit he/she got to just the “spousal” amount and delay the start of their own benefit until age 70.
“File and suspend” strategy allows your partner to qualify for a spousal benefit based on your record even though it is in “suspension”. That’s a technique that earns you as much as 32% more benefit at age 70.
Sound confusing? You bet.
Apparently, the last time this can be used is April 30 of this year.
If you are already divorced, you will not be able to claim a benefit based on your ex’s benefit unless the ex has already filed for social security.
This will be a big problem for many women who have earned significantly less than their husbands.