If you were born before Jan. 1, 1954, you are coming to a fork in the road for an important decision about Social Security.
When it comes to selecting a Social Security filing strategy, perhaps Robert Frost said it best at the end of his famous poem The Road Not Taken: “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one lass traveled by, And that has made all the difference.”
For most people, filing for Social Security benefits can be a fairly straightforward decision. The road most traveled is taking benefits at or before full retirement age. However, if you were born on or before January 1, 1954, there is another road to consider and taking that road might well make all the difference in retirement.
For those fortunate people, who are protected by a special grandfather provision of the law, they have the ability to file a “restricted application” for spousal Social Security benefits.
While they are collecting those spousal benefits, their benefits based on their own work record continue to grow at 8% simple interest between age 66 and age 70. The restricted filing strategy can generate more money while you and your spouse enjoy retirement together. It can also build in a larger benefit for the survivor when someone dies. This road into the retirement future could increase your own benefits and the survivor benefits for a spouse, by as much as 32%.
However, as each year passes, this option become available to fewer and fewer workers. By 2024, it will be gone forever. So check the calendar. If your birthday falls on or before January 1, 1954 perhaps, you need to discover what that less traveled road might do for your overall prosperity in retirement. As the poem says, it could make all the difference.