In the mid-1990s, some researchers estimated that, over the course of human history, the odds of living from birth to age 100 may have risen from 1 in 20,000,000 to 1 in 50 for females in low-mortality nations. This group’s longevity may increase even faster than current projections assume since previous population projections often underestimated decreases in mortality rates among the oldest old. While some experts assume that life expectancy must be approaching an upper limit, data on life expectancies between 1840 and 2007 showed a steady increase, averaging about three months of life per year.
According to data compiled by the Social Security Administration:
And those are just averages. About one out of every four 65-year-olds today will live past age 90, and one out of 10 will live past age 95.
When you are considering when to collect retirement benefits, one important factor to take into account is how long you and your partner might live. You can do this by using one of many life expectancy calculators that are available online. The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers a very simple Life Expectancy Calculator that will give you a rough estimate of the average number of additional years a person can expect to live, based only on the gender and date of birth you enter.
If you would like to get a personalized life expectancy calculation that takes into account detailed health factors, go to the highly acclaimed Living to 100 Life Expectancy Calculator. Developed by Dr. Thomas Perls, this calculator "uses the most current and carefully researched medical and scientific data in order to estimate how old you will live to be." You can sign-up for an account to save your results and chart changes in your life expectancy according to your health choices over time. 40 questions, 10 minutes.
There is another well-known calculator, called the How Long Will I Live calculator, developed at the University of Pennsylvania. It is based on life tables for typical Americans doing typical amounts of exercise, smoking, driving, etc.
Many life expectancy calculators estimate your median life expectancy -- but you have a 50% chance of living past this estimate. While helpful, you may want to use the How Long Will I Live calculator and the Living to 100 calculator more for exploring the impact of health choices that are under your control rather than for financial planning. For retirement finance planning, the professors who developed the How Long Will I Live calculator, recommend their Short Form calculator which will give you the age that you have a 25% chance of living past and not a 50% chance. This is a much more conservative number to use in planning for the future since you may very well live beyond your calculated lifespan estimate.
Knowing this information can help you make a more informed choice about retirement benefits, including Social Security. Once you get an estimate of your longevity you can use these online resources from the Social Security Administration to help you plan for retirement: