I would be absolutely delighted if someone would tell me when I would die.
I’m age 68 and was first diagnosed with bilateral breast cancer at age 60. After treatment, I’m fit enough to do Zumba every day. I could have a recurrence and die next year or I could live to age 90 (as my mother’s older sister did – Mom died of cancer at age 72). The statistics for my specific type of breast cancer shows a continuous die-off (straight line decline of survivors) over decades. Survival at Year 20 was 10%.
DH is a long-time smoker with COPD and emphysema. He is 69. His father died of COPD at age 65.
Most analysts recommend delaying Social Security until age 70 if possible due to the significant increase in benefit.
We decided to take Social Security beginning at age 62 since our breakeven age was 78 and it’s quite possible that neither of us will make it.
Another issue is investing. METARs know that the economy and the stock market have had many ups and downs over the decades. Intercst made the insightful comment that he can’t guarantee that a stock portfolio will be double today’s value in 10 years but he can guarantee that it will quadruple in 30 years. Given the level of today’s stock bubble, it’s not possible to guarantee that the value of a stock portfolio will be even half of what it is today in 10 years. But it’s certainly sage advice for a young person who can expect to live another 30 years.
So how long can older people expect to live? The IRS has actuarial tables, but I prefer the data from Medicare which has the medical records of millions of Medicare recipients. They included respondents aged =65 years (n = 164,597).
**Life expectancy and active life expectancy by marital status among older U.S. adults: Results from the U.S. Medicare Health Outcome Survey**
**This study estimated total life expectancy (TLE) and active life expectancy (ALE) for respondents by their baseline marital status using a large longitudinal sample of the U.S. community-dwelling elderly population.** [Note that the study counted community-dwelling people and does not include people already in nursing homes, who are much sicker and frailer.]
**Between 65 and 85 years, married men and women had a longer TLE and ALE than unmarried men and women. For example, at 65 years, TLE for married men was 18.6 years, 2.2 years longer than unmarried men, and ALE for married men was 12.3 years, 2.4 years longer than unmarried men. Similarly, at 65 years, TLE for married women was 21.1 years, 1.5 years longer than unmarried women, and ALE for married women was 13.0 years, 2.0 years longer than unmarried women. Such marriage protection effects decreased with age.** [end quote]
First, community-dwelling people (on average) can expect to live from 16 - 21 years after age 65. Second, “active” life expectancy is significantly shorter than Total Life Expectancy.
Life Expectancy Active Life Expectancy Married Single Married Single Men 18.6 16.4 12.3 9.9 Women 21.1 19.6 13.0 11.0
The risk is that an investor will run out of money before they run out of life. A secondary risk is that the investor will live an unnecessarily stringent LBYM lifestyle and die with a large remaining portfolio when they don’t intend to benefit heirs.
Every METAR should think carefully about their personal risk tolerance, both numerical and emotional.
This would all be so much simpler if we knew exactly when we would die.