Timing Social Security benefits

New law changes options for couples

Deciding when to start collecting Social Security benefits is an important part of retirement.

By May 1, 2016, one of the strategies to vary the timing of receiving benefits, called “file and suspend,” will end. This strategy had allowed couples to collect a spousal benefit on an account but suspend the main account holder’s Social Security payments, resulting in an 8 percent increase to their benefit payments for each year of delay after full retirement age. The law will not affect those who turn 66 and “file and suspend” before May 1, 2016.

How can you still make the most of your Social Security benefits? Well, that depends on how long you plan to work, how much retirement income you need and your current financial situation.

Here are three tips to help you think about it:

  • Separate the decision to retire from the decision to collect Social Security. It may or may not be beneficial to do both at the same time. Remember, what worked best for friends or family may not be the best strategy for you.
  • You can still earn credit for delaying retirement by delaying/suspending your Social Security benefits when you reach full retirement age. However, because of the new law, no benefits will be paid to family members while an account is suspended.
  • If you turned 62 by Dec. 31, 2015, you may still be able to take a spousal benefit. To do so, you need to wait until your full retirement age, and your spouse needs to be drawing his or her benefit at the time.

Talk with your financial advisor to determine the best plan for your retirement.

Chris Scherer, ChFC®, RICP®, is a Financial Advisor for Everence based in Goshen, Indiana. Learn more about Christine at everence.com/michiana.

Getting ready for retirement

Not sure of the best options for your retirement? Experienced financial advisors at Everence can help.

Our advisors can work with you to develop a personalized retirement plan and answer some of your questions about how to address competing goals. They can help you figure out things like where your income will come from, what types of insurance you may need, what health plan to get and how to make sure your financial life is ready.

Talk to your local Everence financial advisor today, or go to everence.com and select “Find your representative” at the top of the page.

Disclosure

Advisory services offered through Everence Trust Company and Investment Advisors, a division of ProEquities Inc., Registered Investment Advisors. Securities offered through ProEquities Inc., a registered broker-dealer, member FINRA and SIPC. Investments are not NCUA or otherwise federally insured, may involve loss of principal, and have no credit union guarantee. Everence entities are independent from ProEquities, Inc.