OKLAHOMA - A loophole which has allowed many Oklahomans to get extra money from Social Security is about to close.
That loophole has allowed some to receive money while their benefits were suspended.
Social Security officials said the loophole has made it possible for people to get thousands of dollars never intended to be handed out.
They said closing this loophole is essential.
“The change is important, because it helps maintain the integrity of the program,” said Jose Olivero with the Social Security Administration.
It’s a change many may not know about.
Currently, if you are of full retirement age, generally 66, you can file for your benefits and then suspend them until you are 70 years old.
But, here's the loophole currently in place: your spouse, as long as they are also retirement age, can file for a spousal benefit allowing them to receive a percentage of your suspended benefits.
All the while, those suspended benefits continue to increase each year until age 70.
That's what is about to change.
“It's the biggest change that's happened to Social Security since the year 2000. It cuts out millions of dollars in benefits to retirees,” said Rhett Wood with Retirement Solutions.
After April 30, 2016, your spouse will no longer be able to file for that benefit.
“You still can file and suspend but, now, if you file and suspend your benefits, no one in your record can receive the benefit,” Olivero said.
Social Security officials said the loophole has really only benefited the wealthy, because they are the ones who could afford to hold off on receiving some benefits until age 70.
“Only those who have earned a lot of money in their lifetime, and past the age of 66 simply do not need a Social Security check, and so this is extra money for them,” Olivero said.
“Social Security is one of the major sources of income for most people in retirement,” Wood said.
Experts said the best way to get the most out of your Social Security is to delay retirement as long as possible.
“There's a huge difference between taking it at 62 versus full retirement age or age 70,” Wood said.
It’s important to note, if you are already receiving a spousal benefit, you will not be impacted.
You are technically grandfathered in.
This only applies to anyone applying for benefits after that April 30, 2016 deadline.
To find out more about your Social Security benefits, click here.