Calculating anyone’s life expectancy is an inexact science. But by looking at your current age, gender, race, lifestyle and family history, and comparing that to national and global databases, you can get an idea of how long you can expect to live after retirement.
According to the 2020 data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average life expectancy for men in the United States was 75.1 years, and for women it was 80.5. The CDC uses several factors to determine this average.
The Social Security Administration uses only age and gender to create a simple estimate of your life expectancy after retirement — painting a longer life expectancy on average.
Additional Years at Retirement
Additional Years at Retirement
The RetireGuide Life Expectancy Calculator combines this data with other national databases to estimate your life expectancy based on multiple factors specific to your life, family history and lifestyle.
- Alcohol consumption
- Body mass index (BMI)
- General health
- Smoking status
All of these factors can affect your life expectancy. By incorporating these additional factors into your calculation, you may be able to make a more accurate estimate of how long you can expect to live after you retire.
Life Expectancy and Your Retirement
Like most Americans, you’re probably used to spending and saving based on your paycheck. When you stop getting that check in retirement, it can throw off your day-to-day finances, according to Sandy Block, a senior editor at Kiplinger’s, in an interview with RetireGuide.
“What to set aside for long-term care, how long they’ll live — these are really hard things for people to get their heads around,” Block said.
Having an idea of your life expectancy is a key part of creating any retirement strategy. It affects everything you plan — from health care to how much you need to save.
Your family medical history and longevity should factor into the type of Medicare plan you choose in order to maximize coverage while reducing costs.
Annuities can be a source of guaranteed lifetime income, especially worth considering if you expect to live well past retirement age.
Having a clearer picture of your life expectancy can help you shape the best life insurance strategies — as an investment or security for your loved ones.
The savings you put into your 401(k), IRA or other retirement savings account are finite. A clear picture of your life expectancy can help you determine how much to save — and how much to take out each month or year in retirement.
Getting a grasp of your potential life expectancy can help you build a savings timeline if you’re still planning for retirement. It’ll also help you establish a cash flow and net worth forecast that lets you make the most of your retirement savings once you get there.
Strengthening Your Retirement Plans for Longevity
With a clearer idea of your life expectancy, you can make the most of your retirement strategies. You’ll be able to maximize your retirement savings, minimize your tax bill in retirement and budget wisely for the future.
- Diversify your retirement income
- Consider your retirement income sources — Social Security, 401(k), IRA, annuities. Social Security and annuities can give you a guaranteed income for life. You’ll have to estimate your lifetime income from retirement savings such as a 401(k) or IRA.
- Cut your retirement costs
- Budget for expenses over the course of your estimated retirement lifespan. Estimated health costs in retirement are around $295,000 per couple on average, according to financial firm Morgan Stanley. Those are likely to rise over time. Make adjustments for your personal health condition when considering which type of Medicare plans to consider.
- Predict your retirement expenses
- Estimating your life expectancy makes it easier to create your retirement budget long before you retire. It will give you a better idea of how to estimate your essential, discretionary, one-time and required expenses over time — as well as how much savings you’ll have to meet each type of retirement cost.
- Estimate your lifetime taxes
- With a clearer understanding of your life expectancy, you can better discuss your options to minimize your tax burdens in retirement. For instance, you’ll get a tax break now for saving through a traditional IRA, but you have to pay taxes on the money you take out. With a Roth IRA, you pay taxes on the money you put in, but your withdrawals are income tax-free.
How Can You Improve Your Life Expectancy?
Estimating your life expectancy as it stands now can also help you take inventory of your health and well-being — and consider steps you can take to extend your life. A few simple steps can keep you healthy and active into your 60s, 70s and beyond.
- Don’t smoke or use tobacco — Quitting cuts your risk of cancer, heart disease and other health problems.
- Eat healthy — Find tips at the USDA Choose My Plate website.
- Get moving — Check out the National Institutes of Health Go4Life website for exercise tips to reduce your risk of age-related diseases and disabilities.
- Get regular checkups — Help your doctor catch problems before they get out of hand.
- Keep your brain active — Find tips for a healthy mind BrainHealth.gov from the U.S. Health and Human Services Department.
- Treat yourself well — Get enough sleep; keep in touch with family and friends; and surround yourself with people you enjoy to stay positive.
- Watch your alcohol consumption — If you drink, drink in moderation to avoid health problems.
- Watch your weight — Talk to your doctor about muscle loss or stubborn weight you can’t lose, both signs of other health problems.
Even though the average life expectancy in the United States is roughly 79 years, if you live to be 65, you have a “very high” likelihood of living to 85. And if you make it to 85, you’ve got another “very high” likelihood of reaching 92, according to the National Institutes of Health.
A study by the National Institutes of Health found that exercise routines in people 40 or older led to longer life spans.
- Just 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week increased life expectancy by 3.4 years.
- Doubling that amount (300 minutes of moderate exercise or 150 minutes of vigorous exercise) added 4.2 years.
- Even doing half (75 minutes moderate or 37.5 minutes vigorous) still added 1.8 years to their life.
Talk with your doctor about a safe exercise routine and diet for your specific health and fitness level.
About This Life Expectancy Calculator
This calculator is an estimate of your life expectancy. It should not be taken as medical or financial advice. It is intended to get you thinking about your health and financial planning options and to help you discuss those options with financial and health care professionals.
There are a variety of factors that can affect your life expectancy, and no formula or calculator can weigh all those possibilities. But considering some of the most obvious factors and discussing your options with professionals can help you build better retirement strategies and work for a healthier life in your retirement.
14 Cited Research Articles
- Social Security Administration. (2021, May 13). Retirement & Survivors Benefits: Life Expectancy Calculator. Retrieved from https://www.ssa.gov/cgi-bin/longevity.cgi
- Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. (2021, May 13). Life Expectancy at 65 (Indicator). Retrieved from https://data.oecd.org/healthstat/life-expectancy-at-65.htm#indicator-chart
- Wamsley, L. (2021, February 18). American Life Expectancy Dropped by a Full Year in First Half of 2020. Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/2021/02/18/968791431/american-life-expectancy-dropped-by-a-full-year-in-the-first-half-of-2020
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, February). Provisional Life Expectancy Estimates for January Through June, 2020. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/vsrr/VSRR10-508.pdf
- Morgan Stanley. (2020, November 12). Planning for the Rising Costs of Health Care. Retrieved from https://www.morganstanley.com/ideas/healthcare-costs
- Preston, S.H. et al. (2018, December 20). Effect of Diabetes on Life Expectancy in the United States by Race and Ethnicity. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6550350/
- Kunzmann, A.T. et al. (2018, June 19). The association of lifetime alcohol use with mortality and cancer risk in older adults: A cohort study. Retrieved from https://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1002585
- National Center for Health Statistics. (2018, June). Excess Deaths Associated with Underweight, Overweight and Obesity: An Evaluation of Potential Bias. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/series/sr_03/sr03_042.pdf
- National Institutes of Health. (2016, June). Can You Lengthen Your Life? Retrieved from https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2016/06/can-you-lengthen-your-life
- U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2014, May 9). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpao/growthcharts/training/bmiage/page5_2.html
- ForensisGroup. (2013, February 14). Life Expectancy Calculation: Underwriting & Settlement Methods. Retrieved from https://www.forensisgroup.com/life-expectancy-calculations-using-life-underwriting-and-life-settlement-methods-in-the-legal-setting-2/
- Moore, S.C. et al. (2012, November 6). Leisure Time Physical Activity of Moderate to Vigorous Intensity and Mortality: A Large Pooled Cohort Analysis. Retrieved from https://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1001335
- Society of Actuaries. (2008). 2008 Valuation Basic Tables [VBT] Report. Retrieved from https://www.soa.org/resources/experience-studies/2005-2009/2008-vbt-report-tables
- Flegal, K.M. et al. (2005, April 20). Excess Deaths Associated with Underweight, Overweight and Obesity. Retrieved from https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/200731