Retirement Income Guide

How Long Will Your Retirement Really Last?

How Long Will Your Retirement Really Last?

You want your retirement savings to last for the rest of your life, but without knowing how long you’ll live, that can be challenging.

Stephanie Faris

Published November 5th, 2020

Updated December 18th, 2020

Table of Contents

Key Takeaways

  • Your life expectancy depends on a variety of factors, including your lifestyle, socioeconomic status, and gender.
  • Most life expectancy calculators are based on longevity data collected based on average age of death.
  • In addition to determining your life expectancy, you’ll also need to factor in your expected date of retirement.

“How long will I live?” may sound like a philosophical question, but when you’re planning a retirement, it’s pretty important. You want your retirement savings to last for the rest of your life, but without knowing how long you’ll live, that can be challenging.

You can crunch the numbers using a life expectancy after retirement calculator, but that’s just a guess. Those calculations have been proven wrong over and over. However, looking at the general life expectancy of the population, and factoring in things like your own behaviors, your overall health, and your gender, you can start to get an idea of the retirement savings you’ll need.

What is the Average Life Expectancy?

Before you start looking at a lifespan calculator to figure out what your personal life expectancy might be, it can help to look at population statistics. The best figures come from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), a government organization that monitors U.S. health and safety.

According to the most recent data from 2018, the average life expectancy in the U.S. is 78.7 years. But it can also be helpful to monitor how this changes over time. From 2010 to 2014, life expectancies increased 0.2 years overall, only to fall 0.3 years from 2014 to 2017. But then from 2017 to 2018, it shot back up again by 0.1 years. This shows how overall life expectancy can’t be exact if you’re basing your life calculator on it.

Why the ebbs and flows? From 2014 to 2017, the top three causes of mortality were unintentional injuries (50.6 percent), Alzheimer disease (10.7 percent), and suicide (7.8 percent). But at the same time, cancer mortality rates decreased, and that trend continued from 2017 to 2018.

You may have very personal reasons for asking, “What is my life expectancy?” But it’s important for financial reasons, as well. If you retire at the age of 65 and live to 100, you’ll have 35 years of income. Since Social Security makes up only 33 percent of the income of the elderly, that means you’ll need enough money to supplement that monthly check you’ll get from the Social Security Administration.

But if you look at the average life expectancy, it’s only 78.7 years. That means that retirement won’t need to cover you for as many years. If you have a 401(k) or other savings account, you won’t have to be as frugal with your spending if you don’t anticipate living to three digits. That’s why a longevity calculator can help you weigh the odds specific to your situation.

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How to Calculate Life Expectancy

A variety of factors go into any life expectancy test. Here are some of the things that determine how long you’ll live:

  • Gender and marital status – Women generally live longer than men. Married people tend to also live longer than their single counterparts.
  • Genetics – Your family health history and overall longevity play a role in how long you’ll live.
  • Location – Life expectancies vary depending where you live in the world, as well as whether you live in a rural or urban area.
  • Socioeconomic status – For a variety of reasons, your income and socioeconomic status play a role in your longevity.
  • Lifestyle – From what you eat to how active you are to what you do for a living, your daily choices can add up over time to increase or decrease your lifespan.

Even the best life expectancy calculator won’t factor in unexpected events like car accidents and deadly viruses. However, for the most part, you can get a feel for how long you’ll likely need your retirement savings to stretch. There are two ways you can calculate your life expectancy.

Chance Of Living 10 More Years By Current Age (65-100)

One of the best resources is the Social Security life expectancy calculator, which comes in the form of actuarial life tables. You’ll notice from these that women have a longer life expectancy than men from the start. A boy born in 2017 has a life expectancy of 75.95 years, while a girl has a life expectancy of 80.96 years.

You can also use this table as a life expectancy calculator based on current age. If you were 60 in 2017, you had a remaining life expectancy of 21.58 years if you’re male and 24.56 years if you’re female. Another notable column from the chart is the death probability column, which calculates your likelihood of dying in the next year. A 20-year-old male has a 0.001146 chance of dying in the next year, compared to 0.165452 for a 90-year-old male.

Expected Length Of Retirement By Retirement Age

In addition to a life expectancy calculator US, it’s important to look at the year you’ll retire. The standard retirement age may be 65, but the average US retirement age is 63, according to the Census Bureau. If you retire at 63 and take early Social Security, you’ll receive a lower payout over time, but factors like pensions, 401(k) and IRA savings, and post-retirement work will all play into how much money you’ll have to last the remainder of your life.

It’s also important to note that declines in retirement ages may be reversing. The Census Bureau notes that labor workforce participation has increased among older Americans. If you push your own retirement to age 68 or 70, you’ll need to factor that into your retirement planning. Subtract your planned retirement age from your estimated life expectancy and divide by your total retirement savings to see how much you’ll have for each year, then set plenty aside in case you live longer than you expect.

Final Thoughts

If you’re asking, “How much longer do I have to live?” for retirement planning purposes, there are plenty of routes you can take. You can use fun tools like the Wharton Life Expectancy Calculator, but it’s also important to look at general population statistics and your own planned retirement age. So many things factor into how long you’ll live, you’ll need to use your own judgment as you crunch the numbers.

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Stephanie Faris

Stephanie Faris has written about finance for entrepreneurs and marketing firms since 2013. She spent nearly a year as a writer for a credit card processing service and has written about finance for numerous marketing firms and entrepreneurs. Her work has appeared on Money Under 30, The Motley Fool, MoneyGeek, E-commerce Insiders, and GoBankingRates.

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