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    Congress closes some Social Security loopholes

    New law eliminates small number of claiming benefits that resulted in higher benefits


    File and suspend

    Americans can still file for benefits, suspend taking them, and earn delayed retirement credits for a higher benefit later. But under the new law, a spouse will not be able to collect benefits based on one’s earnings record while suspending their own benefit.

    There is a short window of opportunity here. If an individual has reached full retirement age, or will reach it by April 30, 2016, then he/she can still take advantage of the “old” rules by filing and suspending benefits––but he/she must take advantage of the rule by April 30, 2016.

    Lump-sum reinstatement

    Under the “old” rules, individuals who chose to file and suspend could later change their mind and retroactively recover the unpaid amounts during suspension. This is no longer possible under the new rules. Individuals can retain their ability to retroactively recover benefits, but they must reach full retirement age, file for benefits, and suspend them by April 30, 2016.

    What should you do now?

    If individuals filed a restricted application, or chose to file and suspend, before the new law was enacted, they can continue to enjoy the benefits of the claiming strategies under the “old” rules.  Even if you are already receiving benefits, individuals have an opportunity to re-evaluate whether suspension could be a benefit. 

    The recent budget compromise may have shut the door on some popular claiming strategies, but many other planning opportunities still exist.  Knowing one’s options and correctly claiming benefits could result in tens of thousands of additional dollars over a lifetime. 

    Visit Money Matters Resource Center Homepage

    The Social Security Administration is a stickler for punctuality. Therefore, if it is applicable to an individual’s situation, he/she may want to avoid being locked out, as it could have significant implications to one’s retirement lifestyle. 

    As part of the partnership with Ophthalmology Times, it is our pleasure to offer, at no cost, a robust software analysis that can help one analyze many of the Social Security benefit scenarios available.

    It is prudent for spouses to discuss possible retirement dates and to begin planning ahead just when and how to take their Social Security benefits to maximize their future income.

    John J., John S, and Traudy F. Grande, CFPs, are the editors of the Money Matters column. They are owners and principals of Grande Financial Services Inc., Oakhurst, NJ, (website: www.grandefs.com) and registered principals of Wells Fargo & Co., member of SIPC. The Grandes advise physicians across the country on a diverse range of investment and financial matters. Readers may submit their financial questions to them at [email protected]  

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