If you’re part of a couple and younger than age 62, some new rules about Social Security that were included in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 may have you making some changes in your estate plan. 
(Older than that? Well, if you’re going to be turning 66 by April of 2016, there might still be time to take advantage of the Social Security system before the new rules take effect.)

Quick review of what’s going away:

  • The earliest age to claim retirement Social Security benefits is 62.
  • “Full retirement age” is 66 for those born between 1943 and 1954, 67 for those born in 1960 or later.
  • The latest age to claim maximum benefits is age 70.
  • “File and suspend” strategy: An individual waiting to file until full retirement age had the option to elect the spousal benefit (one-half of his or her spouse’s social security amount) as early as age 62 and then switch to the worker’s benefit by age 70.Meanwhile, the worker’s benefit would continue to increase with deferral credits, allowing them to draw more at age 70.

The “file and suspend” strategy allowed couples to collect some money in additional income now, and still benefit from the increase in benefits later. “Without the ability to get that spousal benefit to supplement their other income, many couples wouldn’t have been able to delay taking the worker’s primary benefit until a later age, missing out on higher benefits for the rest of their lives. The alternative would have been to give up on spousal benefits potentially for years, costing tens of thousands of dollars in lost Social Security payments,” explains Dan Caplinger of motleyfool.com

The new budget deal eliminates those “file and suspend” benefits, because, if the primary worker suspends, his or her spouse or children (who are getting benefits based on that worker’s earnings history) will have their benefits suspended as well.
While the attorneys at Rebecca W. Geyer & Associates do not offer tax advice, estate planning and tax planning overlap. At Geyer & Associates our goal is to coordinate our efforts with those of other advisors in order to address all aspects of clients’ financial plan.  We can assist you in maximizing your Social Security benefits to achieve the most income during your retirement years.
– by Ronnie of the Rebecca W. Geyer & Associates blog team