5 Social Security tips for couples

When deciding how you and your spouse should approach Social Security retirement benefits, there are a lot of approaches to consider. Unfortunately, many of them can result in you getting significantly less than what's available to you.
"It's like a game of chess," says Mari Adam, a certified financial planner based in Boca Raton, Fla.
Each decision you make as a couple can impact the monthly Social Security benefits you receive for the rest of your lives. Consequently, even small missteps can shave thousands from the cumulative benefits you receive as a couple.
To prevent you and your partner from getting short-changed, consider these five tips for helping married couples maximize their Social Security benefits.

1. Understand the impact of timing- deciding when to start your benefits is critical
2. Wait at least until full retirement age to claim benefits- Simply waiting until full retirement age to claim benefits can have a significant impact
3. Delay Social Security benefits for the higher earner- If one spouse was the major breadwinner for the couple, that spouse may want to delay receiving monthly retirement benefits from Social Security longer than their partner
4. Consider a file-and-suspend approach-  file for benefits at full retirement age and then suspend them, it allows one spouse to claim a spouse's benefit as both of them continue to let their regular benefits grow. (Note as of 2016 this is no longer allowed.)
5. Consider a  file-and-restrict strategy- file and restrict your application and qualify for your spousal benefit based on their earnings history

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