Can Both Spouses File a Restricted Application for Spousal Benefits Only?

In the wake of my post last week, Can Both Spouses File and Suspend?, I received multiple iterations of the same question, which is the topic of today’s post: Can Both Spouses File a Restricted Application for Spousal Benefits Only?

Unlike the original situation where technically it is possible to undertake but the results would not be optimal, in this situation it’s not technically possible. (The one exception is in the case of a divorced couple. For the details on how it works for divorcees, see this article: A Social Security Option Strictly for Divorced Folks.)

The way the restricted application for spousal benefits works is that there are three rules that must be met:

  1. You must be at or older than Full Retirement Age (FRA)
  2. Your spouse must have filed for his or her own retirement benefit – does not have to be actively receiving benefits, he or she could have filed and suspended
  3. You must not have filed for your own retirement benefit

As you can see, #2 & #3 cannot both be done by the same person in the couple.  It is not possible to (#2) file for your own benefit, enabling your spouse to file a restricted application and (#3) not file for your own benefit, enabling you to file a restricted application.

Therefore, only one of the members of a currently-married couple can file a restricted application for spousal benefits.

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Can Both Spouses File a Restricted Application for Spousal Benefits Only?

About the author

Jim Blankenship, CFP®, EA

Jim Blankenship is the founder and principal of Blankenship Financial Planning, Ltd., a financial planning firm providing hourly, as-needed financial planning and advice. A financial services professional for over 25 years, Jim is a CFP professional and has earned the Enrolled Agent designation, a designation that qualifies him as enrolled to practice before the IRS. Jim is also a NAPFA-registered financial advisor, which designates him as a Fee-Only Financial Advisor.

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