Social Security Restricted Application – Get in Under the Wire

July 16, 2018  |  

Social Security Restricted Application – Get in Under the Wire

Were you born before January 1, 1954?  If so, there could still be an opportunity to have your Social Security cake and eat it too.

The File and Suspend option for Social Security benefits was eliminated on May 1, 2016.  However, the restricted application option is still in effect, which could significantly help those that are eligible to use it.

Criteria for Restricted Application

The current rule in Social Security claiming is that once you claim a benefit, you must take whichever benefit of yours is the greatest.  Therefore, if you decide to wait to collect Social Security until age 70, you won’t be able to get another benefit in the interim. 

However, if you were born on or before January 1, 1954, and are currently married (or are divorced and eligible for a benefit on an ex-spouse’s record), you may still be able to double dip if you haven’t yet collected your benefits.

Once you reach Full Retirement Age –which is between age 66 and 67 for most people you can file a restricted application to claim a spousal benefit, while letting your own benefit continue to grow at 8% per year.  At that point, you can then switch to your own higher benefit amount when you reach age 70.

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A Restricted Application Example


Mark and Angela are a married couple, both 66 years old (born before Jan 1, 1954), which is their Full Retirement Age (FRA) for Social Security purposes. Both Mark and Angela are eligible to begin collecting their individual benefits, which are $24,000/year for Mark and $20,000/year for Angela.  However, they’ve chosen to maximize their benefit by using the Restricted Application strategy.

Angela would file a regular application at FRA and begin collecting her full $20,000/year benefit.  Mark would elect to file a restricted application at FRA,which gives him the ability to collect the lower spousal benefit of $10,000/year, or half of Angela’s. By electing to do this, he would allow his benefit to grow by 8 percent annually until he reaches age 70.  At age 70, Mark would then switch to his larger individual benefit.

At the end of the day, Mark and Angela collected an extra $40,000 while Mark waited until 70 for his benefit. Not bad work if you can get it!

Rules Will Continue to Change

The rules surrounding Social Security have and will continue to change as time moves forward.  It is important to understand your options – but also understand your options in the context of your overall financial plan. 

Some strategies may make more sense for certain individuals than others. Please reach out if you would like a personalized analysis of your Social Security benefits. It can get complicated, so we are happy to help.


Do you want to maximize your social security benefits? We offer a free, customized social security maximization analysis, tailored to your specific information.

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About Patrick Runyen

As a Wealth Manager at Independence Advisors, Patrick Runyen, CPA/PFS, CFP® works closely with clients to implement wealth management solutions. He leverages his technical financial planning and consulting experience to assist clients with investment counseling, retirement planning, estate planning, wealth enhancement, asset protection, tax planning, and other personally significant financial decisions. CLICK HERE TO ASK PAT.
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