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Claim and Suspend
Saturday, December 24, 2016

An option available to everyone who has reached their full retirement age is claim & suspend. This option has two very distinct purposes.

The first purpose of claim and suspend is to create a safety net for benefits if the need for a lump sum of cash is needed. The Social Security Administration has rules about retroactivity of benefits. The Social Security law and regulations state for retirement benefits filed before a persons full retirement age there is no retroactivity. Benefits will begin no earlier than the month the application is filed and all factors of entitlement are met.

If you file for your benefits after you reach your full retirement age there is a possibility of retroactivity for benefits but the period is limited to 6 months and cannot go back any farther than the month you reached your full retirement age. This is where claim and suspend can be useful.

You have the option to file and suspend your benefits any time starting with the month you reach your full retirement age. Currently, full retirement age is 66 for individuals born during the period 1943 through 1954. You would claim & suspend if you wanted to earn delayed retirement credits and postpone drawing your benefits past your full retirement age up to the age of 70. The request to suspend your benefits can be wither written or oral and the request does not have to be signed. If you change your mind and want to have your benefits reinstated before you reach age 70, you may request to have your benefits reinstated effective for any month you choose during the suspension period. Social Security will accept a written or oral request and there is no requirement for a signature.

This option allows you to earn delayed retirement credits while creating a safety net. You will have a large amount of benefits available to you should the need arise. Social Security will not pay you interest on your money and you will lose the delayed retirement credits earned for the months you take the payment but you are looking at as many as 47 months of benefits payable if the need for cash arises. If you don’t need the cash you can begin your benefit payments at age 70 and you will have earned all of your delayed retirement credits and increased you monthly benefit by as much as 32%. This is an option that can work well for single beneficiaries or couples.

The second option for claim & suspend is to allow your spouse or any children who are eligible to receive benefits from your work record to do so while you earn delayed credits. Suspension of your benefits only affects your benefits. If you have a spouse or children eligible for benefits on your work record they will draw their monthly benefits even while yours are suspended. You can claim & suspend at your full retirement age and your spouse, if they are age 62 or older can file for spousal benefits if they are eligible for those benefits. If you have a child under the age of 18, between age 18 and 19 and still in high school, a child who became disabled before the age of 22 may draw a monthly benefit check from your work record. Spousal benefits and children’s benefits can only be paid from your record if you have filed an application for benefits. Claim & suspend fulfills that requirement. This is one of the options available to couples that will allow them to maximize their Social Security benefits. This option alone or in conjunction with the restricted application provision allows individuals to increase monthly benefits by postponing their own monthly benefit and draw a monthly benefit as a spouse.

Claim and suspend is an option all folks should consider. The only drawback is if you contribute to a Health Savings Account (HAS) and you claim & suspend, you will be automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance). You can not contribute to an HSA when enrolled in Medicare. You can use the funds you have in the account but cannot add any additional funds.

Please contact Marc Kiner or Jim Blair at Premier Social Security Consulting to discuss your situation in greater detail. Phone number 513-351-5707. Mr. Kiner’s e-mail address is Premier Social Security Consulting helps folks to “Make a Plan” to take control and maximize their Social Security benefits.

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