New Tool Helps You See If Your Money Will Last for Life

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It may sound morbid, but an online calculator from actuaries helps you estimate your longevity and how it lines up with your resources.

What are the chances you’ll live another 50 years? How about 25? Just 10?

You don’t want to gamble with your life, but you do want to understand the risk of outliving your retirement income.

That’s why the American Academy of Actuaries and the Society of Actuaries jointly released the Actuaries Longevity Illustrator. Plug in a few details about your birthdate, gender and health (including whether you smoke), and the online tool uses a variety of charts to show on average the likelihood of living for various lengths of time.

You can calculate for one or for you and a spouse together. The actuaries say the illustrator addresses two crucial concerns:

  • How long can we expect to live as a couple?
  • How long can we expect a survivor to live after one of us has died?”

The illustrator was released as the Census Bureau revealed new expectations about the nation’s aging population, based on the 2013 Census. There are nearly 45 million people age 65 and older, about 14 percent of the population. Nearly 1 in 10 people 65 and older are in poverty. By the year 2060, the number of elderly is projected to be 98.2 million.

We tested the actuaries’ illustrator for two individuals. For example, a 66-year-old (current full retirement age), nonsmoking male with average health would have a 71 percent chance of reaching age 80; a female millennial born in, say, 1984 would have a near 100 percent chance of reaching age 67 (her full retirement age) and a nearly 85 percent chance of reaching age 80.

The illustrator also shows a planning horizon. You may be comfortable planning for your retirement income to last until there is only a 25 percent chance that you will survive longer than the number of years indicated by the illustrator. For our 66-year-old example, retiring now, that’s 28 years; for our millennial, retiring at age 67, that’s 30 years. Others may want to set their plans as if they will live until there is only a 10 percent chance of surviving longer, or 33 years after retirement for our 66-year-old, 35 years after retirement for our millennial.

The illustrator also presents the same numbers a third way to help you understand the numbers’ meanings. The chart shows the probability that you will live a specific number of years in the future from the age you enter (we’ve used full retirement ages). For instance, there is a 38 percent chance our 66-year-old will survive 25 years and reach age 91, but a 49 percent chance our millennial, after retiring at age 67, will make it another 25 years and reach age 92.

When planning retirement, which starts now for our 66-year-old but is a seemingly long way off for our millennial, you should consider the probability that you may live much longer than your average life expectancy, the actuaries say.

The illustrator does not address your money — investments, earning potential or anticipated expenses. You may want to consult with a financial adviser about that. But it does give you a clear outlook on how long you should try to make your money last.

How are your chances? Enter your information and tell us on our Facebook page or in comments below how your retirement planning is coming along.

Stacy Johnson

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