Are You Maximizing Your Social Security?

It seems like every way you turn, Big Brother is telling us what to do...

From how much salt we can put in our food to hassling travelers at the airport, lots of big U.S. government agencies are trying to control our wealth and health.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) is one of the worst...

According to the SSA, 22% of people over 65 years old almost entirely depend on Social Security for their income. But thanks to the agency's complex maze of rules and regulations, most people don't know how to get the most out of their benefits.

More than 40% of people start collecting their benefits at 62, not realizing how much they're losing out by waiting until full retirement age.

At the end of this month, new Social Security rules could change the way you claim your benefits.

Today, we'll discuss this major change, as well as a nonsense health myth and the best way to consume fruit.

What's Big Brother done for you? How have you taken control of your life? Let us know at
[email protected].

Q: There are all kinds of advertisement-posts on Facebook and other ads almost screaming that there is a change coming in Social Security in April and we need to act fast! ... Could you comment on what this change is and what it means to us who are near retirement? – P.P.

A: As of May 1, the Social Security Administration is changing the way some benefits can be claimed. In Retirement Millionaire, we've talked about several strategies to boost your Social Security income. But because of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, those strategies are ending.

The biggest change is the ability to "file and suspend." This loophole allowed you to file for benefits at full retirement age, and then suspend them until a later date. So you'd have higher monthly payments by waiting longer to collect and allow your spouse to collect spousal benefits while you wait.

The changes are more complex than we can explain here. That's why we wrote an entire report on the changes and how you can take advantage of loopholes before the end of April. No, it's not a free report. (We've got to keep the lights on somehow!) But
Retirement Millionaire subscribers – such as yourself – can read our full report here.

For readers who aren't already
Retirement Millionaire subscribers, click here to learn how to get access to our Social Security research.

Q: I few years ago I read an article written by Marilyn vos Savant in her weekly column for the Sunday Parade magazine. A reader had posed the question: "Since diet soda has a lot of water in it can it be included in the amount one drinks towards the daily recommended quantity of eight glasses full?" Her answer was in short – yes. I was wondering what you thought about this. – R.V.

A: There's a long-held belief that folks should drink eight 8-ounce glasses (about half a gallon) of water per day to stay healthy. But it's misleading and not backed by science...

We get about 20% of our water needs from food, especially fruits and vegetables with high water content like watermelon and cucumber. The beverages we drink – including caffeinated drinks and alcohol – also add to our daily water needs. So it's unlikely you'd need eight glasses of water in addition to everything you eat and drink.

There's a simple way to tell if you're properly hydrated... Look at the color of your urine. When your body is properly hydrated, your urine should be a pale, nearly transparent, yellow. Dark yellow urine could indicate dehydration. (The Cleveland Clinic has a helpful chart of the health implications of different urine colors

If your urine is dark, add a glass or two of water to your daily intake. If your urine is clear (and you're urinating more than eight times per day), you're likely drinking more than you need to. The body can only absorb and excrete so much water at a time.

So check your urine color, and sip water throughout the day.

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Q: We pick oranges from our tree and juice them fresh, no sugar added. What is your advice on that? – D.S.

A: It's great! When can we visit?

And you make a good point... Most fruit juices are loaded with added sugars. Plus, you lose the fiber that you'd get eating whole fruit. Fiber is not only essential for a healthy digestive system, it also slows down your body's absorption of sugar. Meaning it keeps your blood sugar from spiking. If you really want juice, make it yourself. That way you're keeping more of the fiber without adding more sugar.

That added sugar is also why you should avoid "fruit-on-the-bottom" yogurt. Some people may think of it as a healthy snack, but the fruit is covered in sugary syrup. I prefer adding whole fruits – like blueberries – to my plain yogurt.

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