Life expectancy and your pension

Paul Lewis / 27 May 2014

Would you like to know when you will die? It would certainly make financial planning easier in later life, especially now that anyone with a pension pot saved up will be able to cash it all in from April 2015 – though some of it will be taxed. Life expectancy is key to what to do with your pension, says Paul Lewis.

The Government has decided to give everyone who is old enough to get their pension an idea of how long they can expect to live.

At 65 that is about 20 years. The Government will take account of our sex – women aged 65 typically live two or three years longer than men – and also where you live, as the ‘right’ postcode could give you around five more years of life than the ‘worst’ one. 

It won’t consider your health, though it may take a few years off the life expectancy of smokers. 

The problem with all these figures is that they are averages, not personal predictions. For example, using the latest UK mortality tables my date of death is October 21, 2034 at the age of 86½. 

In fact, that date is the average of when all the men of my age – 65 – in the UK will die. 

Life expectancy estimates are getting longer

But there is no point in me booking a funeral for that date. All it means is that I have a roughly even chance of living longer than that forecast and a similar chance of dying sooner. 

Every year that I live will move my expected date of death further into the future. First, because I have survived one year, which some of my compatriots will not have done; second, because every time actuaries estimate when we will die, they reckon it will be longer than they thought last time. 

Life expectancy at 65 grows by two or three months every subsequent year. 

Don't run out of money!

It might be interesting to tell people at 65 that they have to make their savings last another 20 years, as half of them will run out of money before they run out of life! 

Two actuaries told me that I have a one in five chance of living an extra ten years to 96 and a one in nine chance of making it to 100. 

I’ll certainly want my money to last beyond autumn 2034.

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