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Mark Miller: Remaking Retirement

8 Questions About Social Security Claiming Strategies

In the wake of new legislation, contributor Mark Miller explains the phase-out of 'file-and-suspend' and looks at the valuable spousal-claiming techniques still available to married couples looking to maximize their benefits.

The bipartisan budget deal signed into law last week by President Obama jolted some near-retirement couples--and the retirement-planning world--by closing a loophole in Social Security law that a growing number of married couples were using to substantially increase their benefits.

The law makes changes in two Social Security claiming maneuvers--"file-and-suspend" and "restricted claims"--that have become the foundation of online-optimization services offered by financial-services firms and companies offering Social Security advice.