Not only does today's Supreme Court ruling mean gay couples nationwide can marry—it also means they can add as much as $250,000 or more to their lifetime Social Security benefits, experts tell USA Today. That's because homosexual married couples can now take advantage of the same maximizing strategies heterosexual married couples can when claiming and filing. The article uses one fictitious couple as a case study and explains that, just by collecting Social Security benefits as a married couple rather than as two single people, they can boost lifetime benefits by $140,832 (because the longer-surviving spouse will receive spousal and survivor benefits based on his partner's earnings).
But by using a claiming strategy known as "file-and-suspend," plus one known as a "restricted claim," the same fictional couple could boost their lifetime benefits by $202,176. (Read more about that scenario and how it would play out at USA Today.) "The rules of Social Security and the benefits it provides will apply to both spouses as well as any children they may have," says one expert. "And not understanding the basics of Social Security could cause you to leave thousands of dollars on the table over your lifetime." Reuters columnist Mark Miller notes, "Gay marriage's big benefit is Social Security." Same-sex couples can start by visiting the Social Security Administration's page for same-sex couples here; as Miller notes, new rules for Social Security field offices are sure to be quick to arrive.