There is little common ground between Republicans and Democrats on the contentious issue of Social Security (whether Americans should have to wait longer to collect it, for example). Even within each party there’s a divergence of opinion between each presidential contender. CBS News recently looked at “Where the presidential candidates stand on Social Security” (November 2015), based on interviews, quotes and what the candidates state on their websites:

 

  • Donald Trump
  • Bernie Sanders
  • Jeb Bush
  • Martin O’Malley (Democrat) wants to boost benefits, increasing minimum payments to 125% of the poverty line.
  • Ted Cruz
  • Hillary Rodham Clinton
  • Marco Rubio

 

As TIAA-CREF explains, incumbent President Barack Obama recently made an effort to cut Social Security expenditure by passing a law that may reduce lifetime benefits for you and your spouse (New Law Eliminates Social Security Claiming Strategies for Married Couples). These strategies were seen as unintended loopholes arising from legislation enacted in 2000.

 

As of May 2016, married couples will no longer be able to “file-and-suspend” when claiming for Social Security benefits. This strategy allows one spouse to file for benefits upon reaching full retirement age, enabling the second spouse (also of retirement age) to start claiming spousal benefits; then spouse #1 suspends his or her primary benefits so they can go on accruing delayed retirement credits up until age 70, while spouse #2 continues receiving spousal benefits. If you have already taken advantage of this strategy (or do so before May) you will remain unaffected. “Restricted application” will also be phased out: This strategy allows a spouse to file a restricted application in order to receive spousal benefits while building his or her primary benefit up until age 70.   

 

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