Maximizing your Social Security benefits can be challenging, but the extra money is worth the effort. One strategy called "file and suspend" is a smart way to make the most of your benefits, but you have to be aware of one nuance in order to use the strategy effectively.
In the following video, Dan Caplinger, The Motley Fool's director of investment planning, discusses how the file-and-suspend strategy works. In essence, one spouse -- typically the higher-wage earner -- files for benefits but immediately suspends them. This has the effect of allowing the other spouse to claim spousal benefits. But Dan notes that the strategy works best when the spouses have reached full retirement age. For the higher-wage earner, waiting until full retirement age is necessary, as suspending benefits doesn't earn additional delayed-retirement credits before reaching full retirement age. Meanwhile, the other spouse can't do a restricted application for spousal benefits before full retirement age. Dan concludes that the strategy can sound complicated, but it can nevertheless leave you in a much better position than you would be using only your own regular benefits.
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Have general questions about Social Security? Email them to SocialSecurity@fool.com, and they might be the subject of a future video!
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 Fool.com. 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.