Earn an extra $20,000 or more in Social Security benefits

It all depends on your age, and when you start taking benefits

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your grandfather probably didn’t send you a portion of his Social Security check every month. But, if you were age 62 or older before January 1, 2016, you could be “grandfathered” into eligibility for a benefit claiming strategy that could pay you tens of thousands of dollars in additional Social Security

This claiming strategy is called Restricted Application. Besides potentially paying you an additional $20,000 to $50,000 in Social Security income, it also makes it easier to delay claiming your benefits until age 70, at which point you will receive the biggest Social Security check possible for the rest of your life. While you are waiting until age 70, it allows you to still receive income from Social Security. In other words, it pays you to wait.

Te key to the strategy is claiming your Spousal Benefit. If you are married (or are a divorced spouse who was married for at least 10 years), a Spousal Benefit allows one spouse to receive up to 50% of the other spouse’s benefit. For example, if one spouse in a married couple had a Full Retirement Age benefit of $2,000 per month, the other spouse could claim a Spousal Benefit and receive up to 50% of that amount or $1,000 per month. Their combined monthly Social Security income would total $3,000 ($2,000+$1,000).

With the Restricted Application claiming strategy, if one spouse waits until their Full Retirement Age, age 66 for most current retirees, they could restrict their benefit to only a Spousal Benefit. While receiving only the Spousal Benefit, they would continue to delay claiming their regular benefit and it would grow by 8% per year. At age 70 they would switch to their regular benefit and receive the largest Social Security check possible for the rest of their lives. So while they were waiting to claim their maximum benefit at age 70, they still received income from Social Security in the form of a Spousal Benefit.

Age 62 is still the most popular age for people to claim their Social Security benefits, but over the last 10 years, the number of people claiming their benefits at age 62 has fallen to its lowest percentage in almost 30 years. Each year hundreds of thousands of people are deciding to wait and not claim their benefits early. I would strongly encourage you to be one of those people who delay, especially if you were age 62 or older before January 1 of this year. In that case, before you claim your benefits, you should educate yourself about the Restricted Application claiming strategy and how it would apply in your personal situation. Even if you still decide to claim you benefits at age 62, you owe it to yourself to see if you could benefit from using the strategy.

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