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In all these cases, though, it’s important to recognize that file-and-suspend is only appealing for a couple who otherwise benefits instead! While file-and-suspend is primarily about maximizing benefits for a couple, another indirect benefit of file-and-suspend is the opportunity for someone to change their mind after delaying and reinstatement benefits retroactively back to full retirement age.
The key to this strategy is that under the “normal” rules for Social Security, a request for retroactive benefits can only go backwards for up to 6 months’ worth of benefits.
Thus, for instance, someone who was delayed Social Security benefits and then, at age 68, got news of an unfavorable health condition that would significantly curtail life expectancy (such that it was no longer beneficial to have delayed), a request for retroactive benefits could only claim the prior 6 months, but someone who had filed-and-suspended at full retirement age could request 24 months (2 years) of benefits in this case, going all the way back to that original age 66 suspension date.This legislation introduced, for the first time, the concept of “voluntary suspension”, where someone could file for benefits, and then later choose to suspend them (after reaching full retirement age) in order to accrue delayed retirement credits from suspension until the maximum age 70.While the original vision of voluntary suspension was for a worker who had started benefits early (e.g., at age 62) to change their mind later and stop benefits in order to go back to work (thus the “Freedom To Work” Act), in the years after the rule was enacted, commentators observed that voluntary suspension could happen , a spouse could become entitled to spousal benefits, while by immediately suspending, the original worker could still earn the maximum delayed retirement credits as well.And arguably, anyone who is single and doesn’t care about spousal benefits, but simply wants to preserve the right to “undo” and reinstate their delay decision in the next few years, may want to consider submitting a request to File-and-Suspend by April 29 as well!In order for a spouse to be entitled to Social Security spousal benefits, the primary worker – upon whose earnings that spousal benefit will be calculated – must himself/herself have filed for benefits as well.