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JAFO31,

You wrote, Would not 90% be closer to 2 standard deviations then 1 std dev?

Ouch. It's been a very long time since I took statistics, so I had to look it up. You're right. On a normal distribution, one standard deviation covers about 70% of the population. Two standard deviations covers about 95%.

What I remember reading was that you should plan to at least one standard deviation at a minimum and two standard deviations was probably more ideal. Sorry if I screwed up on the numbers. I've always targeted the 90% mark.

Also, Absolutely, without exception? Would not suggest taking into account both family health history and longevity and personal health status and history?

Should a current 75 year old man, with stage IV prostate cancer and high blood pressure (not well controlled by medicine) and family history of heart attacks in between 75-80 really plan for another 19.5 years?


I would say that unless you have specific health problems that are likely to kill you in the near term, you should use any census data available to you and assume you will outlive at least one standard deviation of the US population. With that said, if you have parents and grandparents that lived a long time, you should probably plan to live at least that long. So I'd assume a date of the first or second derivative from the census data or your oldest known ancestor, whichever is longer.

Stage 4 cancers are usually end-stage, meaning you don't have long to live. However, earlier cancer stages may be survivable - especially prostate. After all they say most men will eventually get prostate cancer. The real question is, Will it be what kills you?

On the other hand, my own father's male ancestors have a history of coronary disease and they have tended to die in their 40s and 50s. But my father has lived decades beyond them, so I wouldn't count on a history of heart disease that has yet to manifest will kill you. If anything, I'd expect it to mean you will wind up with larger medical bills than the average person.

Finally, If I am reading you correctly, are you suggesting that the data supports the proposition that 10% of all current 65 year old men will live to 93.5?

Yes, based on the 2010 Social Security Actuarial Table. Unfortunately I don't think the Social Security Administration has posted any newer data. See: http://www.ssa.gov/oact/STATS/table4c6.html

If you look at the table, a man of age 65 (in 2010) would expect to have 80,729 out of 100,000 of his peers still living. To reach 10%, he would only have 8,073 of his peers alive.

The table shows that at age 93, 9,214 should remain and at age 94, 7,142 should remain. Assuming a simple linear interpolation, the midpoint is 8,178, which misses the target of 8,073 by just over 1%. So yes, the data shows that at least 10% of all the currently living men, age 65, should live to age 93.5.

I've noticed some people mistakenly plan for their money to survive only as long as they do - as in they only plan for their money to make it to their average life expectancy. They're making a serious mistake. This isn't about leaving a legacy to someone. The problem is simply you don't know exactly when you will actually die. And ironically as you get older - and your peers die off - the odds of you surviving even longer increase.

- Joel
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