President Obama signed into law a bipartisan budget bill last week that, among other things, changes — for better and worse — Social Security and Medicare laws. Here’s a wrap-up:
• File and suspend. Currently, a married person — typically the higher wage earner in a couple — who’s at least full retirement age could file for his or her own Social Security benefits and then immediately suspend those benefits while the spouse could file for spousal benefits. By doing this, the higher wage earner’s benefits would grow 8% per year. In the meantime, the couple still get a Social Security check, and down the road the surviving spouse could get a higher benefit.
That option is ending for new filers starting May 1, 2016, so if you’re interested, now’s the time to apply. People already using this strategy will be grandfathered in until age 70.
• Restricted application. This is also being phased out. Currently, individuals eligible for both a spousal benefit based their spouse’s work record and a retirement benefit based on his or her own…