The approval of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 last fall impacts millions of Americans who collect Social Security. The bill (approved by the President & congressional leaders) ends “loopholes” some married couples and families use to increase their benefits.
What you need to know:
The law eliminates two Social Security claiming strategies:
1. File-and-suspend. With this strategy, retirees wait to file for Social Security to increase their monthly benefit. In the meantime, they still collect benefits from their spouse. This rule change applies to benefit suspensions submitted beginning May 2016. Experts say barring the practice could decrease the payout by $50,000 for some Americans.
2. Double claiming. Some dual-earning married couples (age 66+) claim Social Security benefits twice. First, they collect spousal payments worth half of the higher earner’s benefit amount. Then, they switch to payments based on their own work record, which are higher due to delayed claiming. People who turn 62 in 2016 or later cannot claim these two types of payments at different times.
What’s your best approach? Take advantage of the claiming options you still have:
• Waiting to claim your Social Security benefits. It’s tempting to take the money when you turn 62. However, waiting even a year or two will pay off in higher benefits over your lifetime. Delay receiving Social Security benefits past your full retirement age and you could increase your benefit by 8% for each year you delay, up to age 70.
• Claiming benefits based on your spouse’s employment history—not your own. This is especially important for couples in single-earner households. Married individuals are eligible to receive a monthly Social Security benefit worth up to 50% of the amount your spouse would receive at his/her full retirement age.
Remember to review your financial picture periodically. Like a jigsaw puzzle, retirement planning has many pieces. Social Security is just one element of your entire financial picture. Additional income sources can include: company-sponsored pension plans, employer-sponsored retirement plans and personal savings.
Keep in mind, experts estimate you will need at least 70 percent of your pre-retirement income to maintain your standard of living when you stop working. Crunch the numbers and assess your odds of being able to retire on the schedule you envision with financial calculators.
At Busey Wealth Management, we have a team of professionals who can review your financial picture and work with you to create a plan designed to achieve your long-term goals. Additional financial education tools and resources can be found on busey.com. Look under Resource Center for online calculators, planning checklists, budget worksheets and so much more.
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