The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015
Well, what do you know!
The House and Senate passed a budget agreement!
The legislation which sets federal spending limits and raises the debt ceiling contains several entitlement reforms. One of them will end the ability of a Social Security claimant to file for his or her benefit and then suspend it while he or she collects benefits for a spouse. The bill also restricts claims for spousal benefits. Normally, changes to Social Security are introduced through a number of years. This time, the implementation will be rapid. Payments related to “file and suspend” strategies will end within six months of the budget being signed into law. The Social Security Administration is already saying they will not be able to put the changes in place before the deadline, predicting administrative hassles… so what else is new?
What’s new is that benefit amendment proposals are usually a political “football.” Normally our leaders in Washington like to kick them around, extracting the maximum leverage possible. Not this time. This measure seems to have been hammered out in the bar a few weeks before it got to Congress.
The legislation also places a surcharge on high-income recipients of Medicare… watch this space. I think this move opens the way to gradually increasing Medicare costs for retirees instead of the slightly more difficult task of increasing payroll tax rates to cover the ever-increasing annual Medicare bill.
Make no mistake, although Social Security and Medicare strategies just got easier to calculate, they are more critical to maximizing your income in retirement.
If you haven’t done so already, log in to your Social Security benefits account and review your benefit estimate (www.ssa.gov). If you are married, check your spouse’s benefit also. If you have questions about developing a Social Security strategy, call us: 513.834.9383