Senior Living


Health & Spirit

Social Security and You: More SSA Blunders

Tom Margenau on

I mean, gosh, she didn't even have to read the fact sheet. The answer is right there in the title!

What you need to do is get back in touch with SSA. I suggest making a visit to your local Social Security office. Tell them you want to file an appeal of the overpayment decision. Bring along any proof you have that shows the extra money you made was, indeed, vacation and sick pay. And I believe SSA's rules say they will not withhold any of your upcoming Social Security checks until they make a decision on your appeal request.

Q: My wife took her Social Security benefits last year when she was 62. I am still working and I will be 66 in November. I wanted to file for spousal benefits on my wife's record and save my own until I am 70. I read about this strategy in your columns. But when I went to the Social Security office to do this, I was told that the "file and suspend" strategy was no longer available. I had brought along a copy of your column. He just glanced at it and handed it back to me saying, "I know the law and this knucklehead columnist obviously doesn't!" Is it true? Have the rules changed?

A: The guy you talked to is wrong. And this knucklehead columnist is right. The SSA clerk is mixing up his filing strategies.

It is true that the file and suspend strategy was eliminated a few years ago. (I won't bother explaining what it was because it's gone.) But you want to use the file and restrict strategy. And that is still around -- at least for a couple more months.


Here is what the file and restrict strategy means: If you turn 66 before January 2020, you can file for spousal benefits at age 66, and then at 70, switch to your own retirement benefits and get a 32% bonus added to your monthly checks.

So march back into your local Social Security office and tell that representative you talked to that it turns out the "knucklehead" was right. If he still won't believe you, ask to speak to a supervisor.


If you have a Social Security question, Tom Margenau has the answer. Contact him at To find out more about Tom Margenau and to read past columns and see features from other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at


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