Personal Retirement

Claiming Strategies for Married Couples

Claiming Strategies for Married Couples

There are two claiming strategies for couples that have been effectively eliminated by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, but may still apply for those who were grandfathered in.


File-and-Suspend Strategy

This strategy allowed one spouse to access spousal benefits while the other spouse earned delayed credits, which will provide a higher benefit amount than a benefit amount based on an earlier start date.

  • In order to apply the file-and-suspend, he or she must have led and suspended on or before April 29, 2016.13
  • The higher-earning spouse led for benefits at 66 and immediately suspended payments until full retirement age or later.
  • The lower-earning spouse claimed spousal benefits. He or she was only able to claim benefits, because the higher-earning spouse initially led for the benefits.
  • The lower-earning spouse must have been at least 62 to claim.
  • At age 70, the higher-earning spouse ends the suspension and begins collecting a higher benefit based on delayed retirement credits.

Restricted Application

This strategy is for couples with a spouse who is ready to retire and start collecting immediately, while the second spouse collects spousal benefits and maximizes his or her personal benefits.

  • Restricted Application is available to individuals who attained age 62 prior to December 31, 2015.13
  • Spouse 1 retires and collects immediately.
  • Spouse 2 files for spousal benefits, while allowing his or her personal benefit to earn delayed credits.
  • Spouse 2 files for his or her personal benefits at full retirement age or later if they exceed spousal benefits.

You should consult your financial advisor to determine the best time for you to start collecting.

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13 “Congress Passes H.R. 1314, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015,” Section 831 — Closure of Unintended Loopholes.