Social Security Changes

The 2015 Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 made changes in social security law. It eliminated two social security maximization strategies that Americans have used to increase benefits.

File and Suspend. This strategy allowed a wage earner to file for social security and then immediately suspend his or her application. This allowed the wage earner's younger spouse to claim spousal benefits at 62 while the wage earner continued to work. By continuing to work the wage earner gained delayed retirement credits each year. The file and suspend approach will be eliminated around May 1, 2016. If you file, you will need to accept benefits at that time.

Restricted Applications. This strategy allowed a wage earner to claim a 'restricted' spousal benefit, receive benefits based on a spouse's work record, but continue to accumulate delayed retirement credits based on their own work record. At age 70 they could switch the claim from the spouse to themselves. The new budget deal eliminates this option for those turning 62 after 2015.

What to Do? Given these rule changes, those in retirement or near retirement may wish to consult win an elder law attorney to determine how this affects ones intended claiming strategy.

No Change in Social Security Cost-of-Living. Usually SSA provides an automatic increase in Social Security and SSI benefits if there is an increase in inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI). But with the CPI down over the past years, SSA will not increase benefits for 2016. In addition, there is no change from 2015 to 2016 on the maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax, as well as the retirement earnings text exempt amounts.

For an additional resource on dollar and cents social security matters take a look at Kathleen Sindell's blog on social security at

Special Needs News

The three IDD waiver amendments have been posted to the DBHDS website for comment. The amendments are accompanied by separate a Table of Contents document to enable you to discern which appendices you are most interested in reviewing. This comment period is in advance of the official comment period, which will commence upon the completion of Appendix J.

This advance preview of the waiver amendments is being posted to enable stakeholders to have as much time as possible to review the three very lengthy amendments.

We encourage you to review the amendments and submit your comments through the My Life, My Community email address This link is also posted in the same location on the website.

The sections of the amendments are available at:

Of course, you may have additional questions. Edward Zetlin Law would be happy to discuss. Please contact us at 703-379-0442 or e-mail at

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