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Get some now, get more later

moreNote: with the passage of the Bipartisan Budget Bill of 2015 into law, File & Suspend and Restricted Application have been effectively eliminated for anyone born in 1954 or later. If born before 1954 there are some options still available, but these are limited as well. Please see the article The Death of File & Suspend and Restricted Application for more details.

When you have reached Full Retirement Age (FRA – age 66 if you were born between 1946 and 1954), you have the option to file for Spousal Benefits separately from your own benefit. This is known as a restricted application – and is often referred to as “get some now, get more later ”. Of course, you must either be married to another Social Security recipient who has filed for benefits, or you have divorced after 10 years of marriage to someone who is at least 62 years of age. If divorced, either your ex must have filed for benefits or at least two years has passed since your divorce.

In order to get your Spousal Benefit now and then get more benefits later, you will need to file a restricted application for spousal benefits when you have reached Full Retirement Age. Typically you should file for this benefit a few months in advance (SSA says up to 3 months in advance) and instruct them to begin your Spousal Benefit when you reach FRA.

An important factor in this process is that you have not filed for any benefits previous to the restricted application. That means you could not have filed for your own benefit earlier. In addition, if you were receiving SSDI (Social Security Disability Income) up to Full Retirement Age, this option is also not available to you.

Do Not File and Suspend

You also would not file and suspend. For some reason, many folks get this confused, thinking that they need to file and suspend and then file a restricted application. If you file and suspend, that takes away your option to file a restricted application – since one of the requirements for a restricted application is that you have not filed for benefits previously. Even though you would not be receiving benefits (having suspended) the action of file and suspend is actually filing for your own benefits. Therefore, if you file and suspend, you are not allowed to file a restricted application for spousal benefits.

Probably the reason for the confusion is that many times if both spouses of a married couple are wishing to delay benefits to age 70, in order for one member of the couple to file a restricted application for spousal benefits, the OTHER member of the couple may need to file and suspend.

In the case of a divorced couple, there is no need for file and suspend at all if the divorce was finalized at least two years ago. This is known as independent entitlement to spousal benefits, and so no one would need to file and suspend to allow for a restricted application for either member of the former couple.

Lissette wants to delay her own benefit as long as possible. She is reaching Full Retirement Age soon, and has been divorced for more than two years after her marriage. In order to take advantage of the “get some now, get more later ” option, when Lissette reaches FRA, she will file a restricted application for spousal benefits. As is often the case with a divorced individual, Lissette visits her local SSA office and brings along the documentation of her marriage, divorce, and her ex-husband’s Social Security number. With this information, Lissette can file a restricted application for Spousal Benefits.

Later, when Lissette reaches age 70, she can file for her own benefits, which will have maximized due to the delay credits adding 32% to her PIA.

Your Spouse Will File and Suspend

On the other hand, Carol, age 65 is looking forward to using the “get some now, get more later ” option when she reaches age 66, her Full Retirement Age. Ronald, her husband, is reaching his FRA of age 66 3 months after Carol. Ronald also wants to delay his benefit to maximize it at age 70.

When Carol reaches age 66, since Ronald has not yet filed for any benefits, she is not yet eligible for the restricted application. If she filed for benefits now, that would take away her option to file a restricted application when Ronald has filed for his benefits. She also would NOT file and suspend – as explained earlier, this would eliminate her option to file a restricted application.

So three months after Carol’s 66th birthday, when Ronald reaches FRA, Ronald files and suspends his benefit – he doesn’t want to receive the benefit now, he wants to delay as long as possible. He only files and suspends now in order to allow Carol to file a restricted application. Since Ronald has filed (file & suspend) Carol is now allowed to file a restricted application for spousal benefits.

It could have gone the other way – Carol could have filed and suspended at her FRA and then 3 months later Ronald could have filed a restricted application for Spousal Benefits. But this wouldn’t have worked out as well since Ronald’s PIA is $2,200 and Carol’s is $1,500. The Spousal Benefit for Carol (based on Ronald’s record) is $1,100; if they did it the other way the Spousal Benefit for Ronald (based on Carol’s record) would only have been $750.

[graphiq id=”3GQQ2SZjuE5″ title=”Average Social Security Payout per Month” width=”600″ height=”520″ url=”″ link=”” link_text=”Average Social Security Payout per Month | FindTheData”]


  1. Joan Boggus says:

    How do you get your husband name off ssdi and put daughter on it?

    1. jblankenship says:

      I don’t understand your question. Whose benefit is it?

  2. Dennis Molitor says:

    Thanks for the great articles! I have a question…I will be 66 in Oct 2016, my wife was 62 in April 2016 and will apply for Ss benefits in August. She has a good paying job and will exceed the annual cap of 15720 in a couple of months. I know about the credit for the money withheld increasing her benefit after fra, but is there something that would make her income prevent me from applying for a restricted application after I reach fra in October 2016?

    1. jblankenship says:

      I don’t believe so. Her earnings would only affect her own benefit, and any earnings you have would not have an impact on spousal benefits because you’re over FRA. Might want to confirm this with SSA though.

  3. When the one spouse files a “ restricted application” for spousal benefits and meets all other requirements, does the other spouse has to be in” file AND suspend” status or just “Filed”? In other words does the restricted application for spousal benefit applies when the other spouse is collecting FRA benefits and has reached 70?

    1. jblankenship says:

      The applicable action is that the other spouse has filed. If the other spouse has suspended benefits prior to April 30, 2016, then a restricted application for Spousal Benefits is allowed and will result in benefits being paid IF the spouse to receive those spousal benefits was born before 1954. If the suspension is done after April 30, 2016, spousal benefits will not be paid on the suspended record while it is suspended. Likewise, if the spouse intending to receive spousal benefits was born in 1954 or later, a restricted application is not allowed – deemed filing requires application for all benefits to which the individual is eligible.

      See the article The Death of File & Suspend and Restricted Application for more details.


  4. William M Zahn says:

    Actually, I actually retired last year with my plan set for me to file the restricted application in January, as I turn 66 this December. We had timed IRA withdrawals and both of us working part time to make up the difference until I get to 70. “The best laid plans of mice and men…” By the way Jim, thanks for the answer on applying the “restricted application” online, even if I can’t do it anymore.

    1. William M Zahn says:

      I think I commented too soon (you can eliminate the above if you wish). It looks as if “I” and any 62 or older by the end of this year (a grandfathering clause), will still be able to file a restricted application for spousal benefits by waiting until FRA to do so and then not filing for my benefits at all until a future date or age 70. In the new law, Deeming will still be in effect for those under FRA, and Deeming may changed to include those not grandfathered and will in the future include anyone filing before age 70(?). “File and Suspend” is being totally done away with after 6 months, about May 1, 2016. Am I reading this correctly?

      1. jblankenship says:

        That’s correct, William.


  5. Interesting you posted this article this week. Congress has just eliminated restricted applications and file and suspend as part of the budget bill. I built an elaborate retirement plan based on the ability to do this now all for naught!

    1. jblankenship says:

      Tell me about it! :) I had this article in mind for a while, the timing was just poor.

      I have quite a lot of cleanup to do around here…


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