Is This Popular Social Security Benefit Going Away?

Social Security is a complex program, but many benefits are available to those who understand all of its rules. Yet a budget proposal from the Obama administration could threaten one often-followed Social Security strategy known as file and suspend, with the budget's language suggesting that the strategy leads to excessive benefits. 

In the following video, Dan Caplinger, The Motley Fool's director of investment planning, runs through the file-and-suspend strategy and the reason why some think that the budget proposal attacks it. Dan notes that the benefit is a valuable one for forward-thinking couples, with the ability to get spousal benefits now and higher benefits on your own work history later. With more two-income earner families now than when Social Security was first implemented, one could argue that spousal benefits don't make as much sense in most cases. Dan concludes that it's too early to tell what fate the proposal will have, but Social Security is certain to be a focal point of controversy for years to come.

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Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On March 22, 2014, at 3:30 PM, tigertra wrote:

    They have been talking about doing away with SS for years because of it burdensome characteristics that some say pose on our economy.

  • Report this Comment On March 22, 2014, at 4:59 PM, furparent wrote:

    Think about this.

    Nancy Pelosi will retire as a Congress Person at $174,000 Dollars a year for LIFE.

    She has retired as SPEAKER at $223,500 a year.

    PLUS she will receive an additional $193,400 a year as Minority Leader.

    That's $803,700 Dollars a year for LIFE including FREE medical which is not available to us ... the taxpayers

    She is just one of the hundreds of Senators and Congress that float in and out every year!

    I think we found where the cuts should be made!

  • Report this Comment On March 22, 2014, at 5:56 PM, JuergenH wrote:

    I've worked over 40 years and have always gotten my SS contribution out of the way by July or August. That's hundreds of thousands in contributions.

    The upcoming cuts to SS and cuts to Vet's benefits really make me angry. People who have invested in their careers and these programs shouldn't be penalized. If you're (the Feds) going to hose someone, don't hose those who have already made their contributions in terms of money and service.

  • Report this Comment On March 22, 2014, at 8:00 PM, smilingdon wrote:

    What do you expect the President to do? Protecting us instead of sucking it our of our wallets?

    If that's what you wanted, you elected the wrong one!

  • Report this Comment On March 22, 2014, at 8:02 PM, macarthur1 wrote:

    Remember that commercial during the election year where the Democrats depicted Republican Mitt Romney pushing grandma off the cliff?

    YEAH... You just got punk'd by the Democratic Party!

  • Report this Comment On March 22, 2014, at 8:18 PM, globeflyer wrote:

    Things like this are the political equivalent of "pi$$ing on your leg and telling you it's raining". Why is anyone surprised?

  • Report this Comment On March 22, 2014, at 8:21 PM, allykat7825 wrote:

    I think furparent is wrong. I do not think congressmen car collect additional benefits of 100% of each job description. You pick the highest and that is that. no one has cut anything as yet. All this speculation is just fuel for nervous people to worry themselves about. If the is country is not growing stronger each year, motleyfool is doing us more harm than Obama ever could. It is belief in the future that fuels the market, not foolish fears. No one in the history of war ever started one, let alone two, and at the same time cut taxes. All the other wars were done with raised taxes to pay for them. In case you have forgotten, Bush did exactly that. Why blame Obama for the results of those foolish tax cuts?

  • Report this Comment On March 22, 2014, at 8:36 PM, bigfoot wrote:

    Alleyscat, even if he is wrong the broad will still 223K a year. 223K? Her? Think about that. And this. The democrats are the ones who started taxing SS benefits. The democrats are the ones who have raised the taxes on SS benefits.

  • Report this Comment On March 22, 2014, at 9:27 PM, thegodfather4u wrote:

    Is it any wonder when over 73% of American's (all race's and creeds) don't trust our government exists today? Racial divide actually created by our current administration..... and we all need to do some in-depth research on these groups that have a stronghold on our Government and the World that have a goal none of us want to think about……Bilderbergs...Trilateralists..Council on Foreign Relations (they own the government and most of the media)..Our economy at the worst since the great depression....Our unemployment in double-digits for over 5 years....Over 17% of our population not being able to feed their children or themselves....UN anti gun laws signed by our administration which means Global registration and over 30 anti-gun laws passed secretly as well.......Insider Trading secretly re-approved by our administration for all members of our government....90% of our media being controlled by the above groups to insure we remain docile and guarantee our continue apathy....NSA/CIA spying on every facet of our lives and implanting chips in computers being sold to the public....Hording of ammunition and arms by our governments law enforcement agencies .. Unconstitutional Obamacare being forced on all American's without our vote............

  • Report this Comment On March 22, 2014, at 9:35 PM, rowlandw123 wrote:

    If I had no choice about paying into the system over 40 working years, the gov't should have no choice about tinkering with my benefits.

    If you are going to change SS, then increment the changes onto those whose benefit horizon is a long way off so they can adjust over decades.

  • Report this Comment On March 22, 2014, at 10:00 PM, furparentcontra wrote:

    furparent, instead of spreading misinformation, why don't you google "congressional retirement benefits OPM" and educate yourself on benefits congress receives?

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 12:44 AM, mardyer wrote:

    I am currently taking advantage of claim and suspend (my spousal benefit). Why should that opportunity go away? I've paid into Social Security all of my adult life as well as taken care of a home and family just as stay-at-home wives do. Why shouldn't I receive some benefit for being a spouse? What about the women that didn't work at all or worked very little? They are entitled to a spousal benefit even though they never contributed or contributed very little. Why not remove their spousal benefit if mine (realized for a total of four years) is taken away? When I reach age seventy, I'll claim my benefit for my employment.

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 2:05 AM, rbrb45rf wrote:

    Obama supporters will go hysterical over this well sourced list of 608 examples of his lying, lawbreaking, corruption, cronyism, etc.

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 11:23 AM, sogole wrote:

    How can they sleep at night?

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 11:32 AM, 82andcounting wrote:

    There is a common thread in all of your comments maybe the term fool is aptly applied which makes me one for even bothering to read your comments.

    You are all hung up on that Republican - Democrat issue. It is nothing more than the object that you would throughout to distract the cat or dog when you want them looking in the another direction.

    If that doesn't get your attention there is always the other issue who is white and who is black. This time you were thrown a curve ball, with a black African father and a white mother it seems to me that he is neither. Raised by his white grandparents makes him culturally white. Living in the American society has forced him to live his adult life more black than white. Now if you are going to come up with the old line that the race or nationality of the father determines the race and nationality of the child. Then, when are we going to allow all of those children born to women in countries we occupied to claim their American citizenship ?

    You even fell for one party labeling a national healthcare plan "Obama care". Instead of distracting the public with the name those elected members of Congress that should have been representing you, could have spent their time hammering out a healthcare bill that was beneficial to all citizens. Hold the line here's yet another distraction; abortion. You noticed when the bill was finally passed they excluded themselves. By the way that's both Democrat and Republican Congress persons are excluded.

    I hear it year after year, talk about let us balance the budget, a great idea. Problem is there has never been a majority of Congress stepping up to the plate and saying as a good faith gesture we will take a 30%, 40% or 60% cut in our annual income and we will not give ourselves an increase every year. The cherry on top would be pay our retirement benefits into Social Security then when I retire use the same formula my fellow Americans must use, you know those persons who elected me.

    And oh yes the money in my election fund will not be transferred to my private account tax-free, nor will I be allowed to become a lobbyist for six years after leaving office

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 1:16 PM, sugarbritches wrote:

    The politicians just cannot deal with people growing old and receiving money from a program that they have paid into all of their working lives. They seem to rather that they would all just die so that they do not have to pay them.

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 1:32 PM, quacker wrote:

    we worked our whole lives and paid in our whole lives, that is what we earned and the government is stealing from us again and again.

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 4:19 PM, JohanStrauss wrote:

    Christ, just *tell* me, and don't make me sit through some idiotic video.

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 4:49 PM, gulfcoastrebel wrote:

    Is Motley Fool asking a question to suggest to us what they would like us to believe?

    Do they do this characteristically?

    Does it keep them from being sued for libel, or having to come up with sources for their information?

    Am I going to even bother to read an article that begins with a question from a right wing website geared to spreading rumors this way?

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 5:04 PM, ariana wrote:

    I don't mind Nancy getting all that money. The money is coming from the government, not from our taxes.

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 5:12 PM, yooperintx wrote:

    furparent - I think I need some of what you have been smoking. You apparently have no idea what a Member of Congress gets for retirement. Here's a hint, it is not 100% of salary for each job they held. If a member serves 40 years, they would get 54% of highest three year average salary, figured at 1.7% for first 20 years and 1.0% for years beyond 20. They also will be entitled to SS based on income they paid SS tax on, including as Members of Congress, on the same basis as the rest of us. They also pay premiums for their health insurance, it is not free for them.

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 6:01 PM, dory wrote:

    ariana, where do you think the government gets it money? They get it from taxing us. You don't think they have a money tree to pick from so they can pay a politician their retirement do you? must be very young!

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 10:32 PM, zrxman60 wrote:

    They wouldn't have to take away any benefits if they didn't borrow from the SS fund all the time and if they didn't insist on passing the Obamacare debacle which only benefits the people who won't work and the illegal immigrants..everyone else is gonna pay through the nose for basically worse insurance and eventually worse health care.

  • Report this Comment On March 24, 2014, at 6:49 AM, txJerome wrote:

    Notice that he President is a Democrat and the Senate is controlled by Democrats.

    So we won't hear anything about draconian cuts to Social Security until after the new Congress is installed. You Democrats are easily predictable.

  • Report this Comment On March 24, 2014, at 8:18 AM, shawn100 wrote:

    Why do only the middle class pay SS on 100% of their income? Why is this limited to $110,000 if thats what the limit is now?

  • Report this Comment On March 28, 2014, at 10:56 PM, Myrt wrote:

    By Dan Captinge

    March 22, 2014

    ARTICLE Comment furparent's

    Commented on a article 4:59 PM

    Is this populater Social Security Benifit Going Away?

    Think about this

    Nancy Pelosi will retire as a congress person at $174 Dollar a year for LIFE

    She has retired as SPEAKER at $223,500 a year

    PLUS She will receive an additional $193,400 a year as Minority Leader

    That's $803,700 Dollars a year fo LIFE including FREE medical which is not available to US... The taxpayers

    She is just one the hundreds of Senators and Congress that float in out every year!

    I think we found where the cuts should be made!

  • Report this Comment On March 29, 2014, at 2:44 AM, Myrt wrote:

    An instant look at three companies set to dominate the world...

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Dan Caplinger

Dan Caplinger has been a contract writer for the Motley Fool since 2006. As the Fool's Director of Investment Planning, Dan oversees much of the personal-finance and investment-planning content published daily on With a background as an estate-planning attorney and independent financial consultant, Dan's articles are based on more than 20 years of experience from all angles of the financial world.

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