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Age: A Number. Life Expectancy: A Statistical Measure. Planning: A Must

Every day, 10,000 Americans reach the age of 65. A man turning 65 in 2020 can expect to live, on average, until age 84. A woman turning 65 in 2020 can expect to live, on average, until age 86.5, according to the Social Security Administration.

One out of every three 65-year-olds might live beyond their life expectancy, to age 90. One in seven will live at least five years beyond, to age 95. While this may be comforting to those who want to see their grandchildren graduate college, get married and have kids, it may not have the same effect on those who simply say, “Oh, I don’t want to live that long.”

Both groups are likely to experience some degree of longevity risk – the risk of living too long – and quality of life risk that interferes with health, comfort and overall happiness. One might conclude that knowing your age could very well influence your own longevity.

Aging as Decline

“Did you ever stop to think how old you would be if you didn’t know how old you are?”

Jo Ann Jenkins, AARP CEO, asked this mind-blowing question and, “Do you know how knowing your age affects the way you behave?” in chapter two of her book, “Disrupt Aging.”

As we know, life expectancy numbers are only averages and not set in stone. In baseball’s Satchel Paige’s case, which Jenkins uses as an example, the great Hall of Fame pitcher and oldest rookie in Major League history was once asked by a reporter how he could still be playing baseball “at his age.” Paige responded, “Age is a question of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” He said he “never saw” his birth certificate and “didn’t know” how old he was. Paige was born in 1906.

Like many athletes over 35, he was labeled, “old,” at 42, when he joined the Cleveland Indians in 1948, after playing twenty years in the Negro Leagues. His celebrated career ended after pitching his last game at age 59 – 12 years past his life expectancy of 47 years. Paige died in June 1982 of a heart attack, one month shy of his 76th birthday, and 28 years past his life expectancy. If planning was done for him early on, you might wonder how far it went out.

“Today, we assume people are going to be living longer. That’s why you need to plan for longevity,” says Erin Weber, a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM practitioner with The Weber Group at Hefren-Tillotson. “With our MASTERPLAN®, we run it out to age 95. Chances are you will be retired longer than you are actually working, so we must plan for those years, otherwise your last years might not be as you imagined or even dreamed.”

Working Well Into Your Seventies and Beyond. Really?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that between 1977 and 2007, employed workers age 65 and older rose by 101 percent. The number of employed men 65 and older increased 75 percent, but employment of women 65 and older climbed nearly twice as much, increasing to 147 percent. Though the number of employed people age 76 and older is relatively small, this group increased by 172 percent. The Department of Labor acknowledges a demographic shift in 2020. As the average and median age of the population is rising, so is the composition of the workforce. Workers 55 and older make up nearly 25% of the U.S. civilian labor force, up from 13% in 2000.

In addition, the DOL says individual workers are remaining in the workforce longer and retiring later. The number of workers over the traditional retirement age of 65 is seeing a marked increase, and it is projected that they will make up more than 7% of the American labor force in 2020. Employers rate older workers high on characteristics such as judgment, commitment to quality, attendance and punctuality.

Nonetheless, Many Older Adults Face Barriers

Unfortunately, COVID-19 put the kibosh on what was the lowest unemployment in history. Richard Eisenberg reported in Forbes, “When the overall U.S. unemployment rate spiked from 4.4% in March to 14.7% in April, the unemployment rate for women 55 and older rose even more: from 3.3% to 15.5%, according to AARP.” 

“The people who’ve been getting hurt the most – (it’s) women, to an extraordinary extent,” said Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell on a recent 60 Minutes segment. The unemployment rate for men 55+ soared from 3.4% to 12.1%. Even before the pandemic, however, seniors were pushed out of jobs they held for many years.

Sadly, age discrimination is still alive in some companies, as the DOL discloses in their publication, Senior job hunters may be rejected routinely, and employed seniors may be the first to be laid off because they are in a higher pay range and have higher healthcare costs.

Older workers may be passed over for promotion and technical training because managers believe this investment is wasted on a person with fewer years to go before retirement — even though the greater loyalty and stability of older employees often means they are more likely to be around for several years later than their younger counterparts, the DOL revealed.

National Employ Older Workers Week

To celebrate the skills of older workers, National Employ Older Workers Week recognizes the vital role of older workers in the workforce. The annual event aims to increase awareness and develop innovative strategies to tap the older market. Held during the last full week of September, the event showcases the Senior Community Service Employment Program, which provides on-the-job skills training to individuals 55 or older with limited financial resources. Since its inception, SCSEP has helped over one million older Americans enter the workforce.

If you would like a second opinion regarding planning for your own longevity, contact us here at Hefren-Tillotson. We would be happy to show you our customized approach to meeting your financial needs and goals.

DISCLAIMER: Past performance does not predict future results. This report is based on data obtained from sources we believe to be reliable. Hefren-Tillotson does not, nor any other party, guarantee the accuracy or completeness of this report or make any warranties regarding results obtained from its usage. All opinions and estimates included in this report constitute the firms judgment as of the date of this report and are subject to change without notice. This report is for informational purposes only and is not intended as an offer or solicitation to buy or sell the securities herein mentioned.

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