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Social Security: Can Both Spouses File and Suspend?

Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Couples can earn more in Social Security benefits by using sophisticated strategies. But there's a limit to how much the Social Security Administration will allow you to get from the program, and the way it handles the file-and-suspend strategy is a good example of how double benefits often aren't available.

In the following installment of the Fool's Social Security Q&A series, Dan Caplinger, The Motley Fool's director of investment planning, answers a question from Tom, who asks whether both spouses can file and suspend. Dan goes to the source, citing Social Security Administration rules that prevent more than one member of a married couple from filing and suspending, as well as limiting both spouses from filing restricted applications for spousal benefits. Dan concludes that the strategy can still be valuable, but you have to pick which spouse should use which strategy to maximize its value.

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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 July 12, 2014, at 9:07 AM, gadfly1000 wrote:

    "Social Security Administration rules that prevent more than one member of a married couple from filing and suspending"

    Well, that's not quite true.

    A married couple, yes, only one can file and suspend, but the couple can divorce and (if they were married at least ten years and divorced for two) then both can file and suspend and each can collect spousal benefits.

  • Report this Comment On July 13, 2014, at 5:58 AM, nzk91g wrote:

    With SS close to going broke they need to get rid of these stupid loopholes that allow people to get more than they are otherwise entitled.

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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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