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Government Spells Out New Social Security Rules

The clock is ticking down on two popular claiming strategies. If you still qualify, you may need to act fast.

Boomers who are in their sixties, tune in: The Social Security Administration has finally issued official guidance on the phaseout of two popular claiming strategies, and if you qualify, you need to act quickly.

The agency also issued guidance on the other claiming strategy that is phasing out. The agency confirms that those who were born on January 1, 1954, or earlier still qualify to use the “restricted application” strategy. This strategy allows an eligible beneficiary who is full retirement age to apply for a spousal benefit only, while allowing his own benefit to earn delayed credits.

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Also, a spouse born on January 1, 1954, or earlier who takes her own benefit early but becomes eligible for a spousal benefit once her spouse has applied for his benefits won't automatically have to claim the spousal benefit if it's higher. She could choose to wait to bump up to the higher spousal benefit once she turns full retirement age. (Under the rule changes, those born after January 1, 1954, are automatically given the higher of their own or their spousal benefit, once they are eligible for both benefits.)

But beware if you are eligible for both strategies: Make sure you don't want to use the restricted application strategy before filing and suspending, because you can't do both. Run your numbers and see which strategy will pay out more before making any move.

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