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Clarifying the 2015 Social Security Changes

August 15, 2022

The Budget Act of 2015 was the last legislation that made major changes to Social Security. The main thrust behind the legislation was to forbid strategies that took advantage of spousal benefits (the use of these strategies was unforeseen when the law was originally passed in 1939).

Well, it’s been more than seven years since the Budget Act of 2015, and we still get lots of questions.

Spousal benefits were first instituted to give non-working or low earning spouses Social Security benefits equal to 50% of what the working spouse earned. But loopholes in the law allowed higher earning spouses to collect a spousal benefit…if they knew what to do.

Eventually these strategies became popular, and it was clear that only higher income couples with financial advisors were benefitting. So, Congress changed the rules.

But rumors continue to circulate, and many people erroneously think they can get still spousal benefits, even though it’s not possible anymore. Worse, we’ve heard how the Social Security Administration has given out wrong information and continued paying spousal benefits while the worker’s spouse’s benefit is in suspension, which the law specifically disallows.

It can be a mess.

The message is clear. Social Security can be confusing and it’s in your best interest to know the rules. If you’re not sure if you’re entitled to some type of Social Security benefit, talk to a financial advisor who understands the Social Security laws inside and out.

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