Married couples collecting Social Security Retirement benefits may want to consider suspending one individual’s benefits in certain cases. This feature is called “file and suspend”. It can only be done within one year of the initial filing and you must have reached your full retirement age, but not have reached your 70th birthday.
File and suspend may be useful if one spouse has earned significantly more than the other spouse during their working years. The lower earning spouse may be financially better off claiming half of the higher earning spouse’s benefits because it will be a greater amount than that individuals’ own benefits.
File and suspend allows the higher wage earning spouse to apply for benefits, then suspend collecting, while allowing the other spouse to start collecting one-half of the total suspended benefits immediately. If the higher wage-earning spouse can wait to claim benefits until age 70, that spouse’s retirement benefits will increase by eight percent each year between ages 66 and 70.
You and your spouse should discuss this option with Social Security if you think it might be applicable to your retirement situation.