What You Need to Know About the New Laws for Claiming Retirement Benefits

Have you heard that some of Social Security’s rules about claiming benefits are changing? Well, it’s true. The Bipartisan Budget Act that passed last November closed two complex loopholes that were used primarily by married couples. We want you to know why this happened, how it might affect you, and what you should do next.

But first, don’t forget that one of the best ways to increase your Social Security retirement benefit is to delay claiming it between ages 62 and 70. Each month you delay results in a higher monthly benefit for the rest of your life. The new law doesn’t change this.

The new law closes loopholes that allowed some married couples to receive higher benefits than intended. Only a small fraction of retirees used these loopholes. Closing them helps restore fairness and strengthens Social Security’s long-term financing.

So what’s changing with the new rules?

  • First, if you are eligible for benefits both as a retiree and as a spouse (or divorced spouse), you must start both benefits at the same time. This “deemed filing” used to apply only before the full retirement age, which is currently 66. Now it applies at any age up to 70, if you turned 62 after January 1, 2016.
  • Second, if you take your retirement benefit and then ask (on or after April 30, 2016) to suspend it to earn delayed retirement credits, your spouse or dependents generally won’t be able to receive benefits on your Social Security record during the suspension. You also won’t be able to receive spouse benefits on anyone else’s record during that time.

For more information about these changes in the law, please visit Recent Social Security Claiming Changes and Retirement Planner.

Deciding when to start your Social Security benefits is a complex and personal decision. You may contact Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778), or visit your local field office, to speak with a representative about your retirement options. In particular, if you are or will be full retirement age (66) or older before April 30, and you think you want to suspend your benefits, contact us as soon as possible before April 30. But remember, if you want to let your retirement benefit grow, you can simply delay taking it, up to age 70.

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1,113 thoughts on “What You Need to Know About the New Laws for Claiming Retirement Benefits

  1. I turn 70 on 12/11/20 and want to apply for social security benefits. Should I request the benefits to start on 1/1/21 so I receive the full amount of benefit being 70?

    • Hi Carol, thanks for using our blog. When you delay collecting benefits beyond your full retirement age, the amount of your retirement benefit will continue to increase up until age 70. There is no incentive to delay claiming after age 70. So, if your birthday is in December and you want your benefits to begin when you’re 70 for the maximum amount payable, you would select December and you’ll receive the December payment in January because we always pay a month behind. Check out our Retirement Planner for additional details.

  2. I want to get the maximum social security benefit. Should I request the start of payments the month of my 70th birthday, or the next month? I turn 70 on February 27, 2021.

  3. I currently draw ssi benefits and have recently gone back to work, how much income can I earn and what will happen if I earn more that what is allowed

    • Hi Debbie, thanks for using our blog. Social Security has special rules that make it possible for people with disabilities receiving Social Security Disability (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) to work and still receive monthly payments. These are called work incentives. For details about the various work incentives, check out our publication Working While Disabled: How We Can Help.

      To ensure you continue to get paid accurately, and to help you avoid a possible overpayment, it is important to let us know promptly when you start or stop working, or if any other change occurs that could affect your benefits. You can call us at 1-800-772-1213 for assistance or you can contact your local Social Security office. Please look for the general inquiry telephone number at the Social Security Office Locator. The number may appear under Show Additional Office Information. Please be aware that our call wait times are longer than normal. We hope this information helps.

  4. I am 66 yrs old as of April 30, 2020. I started receiving SS at age 62. Although I have a physical disability (mobility) I am do not received disability benefits. I will be going back to work this month. Will this affect my SS benefits.My salary will be 30,000/ yr.

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