Last Updated Jun 6, 2011 10:44 AM EDT
Tiya Lim, one of my colleagues at Buckingham Asset Management, has done some wonderful research on strategies regarding your Social Security benefits. Over the next two posts, I want to share some of the strategies that may help you get more out of your Social Security benefits. The strategy we'll discuss today -- called "file and suspend" -- applies to married couples.
Consider the following example. John is the higher earning spouse, and John's wife Mary is the lower earning spouse. When John reaches full retirement age, he files for Social Security benefits and immediately suspends them. This can be done from the remarks section of the application.
Because John has filed for benefits, Mary can choose the higher of her spousal benefit or her regular benefit. John can continue to work or draw income from his IRA, then begin receiving his benefits at a later date. This allows him to not only earn more if he continues to work, but also to draw a larger benefit.
There are several potential advantages to this strategy:
- The higher earning spouse can delay benefits and receive up to a 32 percent higher benefit.
- The lower earning spouse can receive the spousal benefit before the higher earning spouse begins taking claims.
- The lower earning spouse could also receive a larger survivor benefit.
- By taking withdrawals from an IRA, you may reduce the mandatory distributions you would face at age 70 1/2.
For further reading on Social Security, see the following posts: