Retirement & Financial Planning Report

While age 65 is no longer the standard age for receiving standard Social Security benefits, it remains a touchstone for those not yet in retirement and those already there by that age, the Senate Committee on Aging has been told.

Upon reaching that age, a witness from the National Council on Aging said, average life expectancy is age 84 for a man and age 86 for a woman. “What’s more, one out of every four 65-year-olds today will live past age 90, and one in 10 will live past age 95,” she said.

Such potential longevity has important implications for financing one’s retirement, she added, but the average 55 to 64 year old has only $127,000 in savings–while average costs for just basic necessities such as housing, food, health care, and transportation are about $31,000 a year.

“In addition to higher daily costs, living longer means increased chronic disease and rising health care costs. The National Center for Health Statistics reports that more than 85 percent of Americans aged 65 and over are coping with at least one chronic health condition, and 56 percent are coping with two or more,” she said.

Healthy behaviors can help lessen the physical and financial toll of such conditions, she added, citing steps such as regular exercise, quitting smoking, drinking alcohol only moderately, healthy eating, adequate sleep and regular health care. Exercise and accessing health care also can lessen another major issue for the over-65 population, falls, along with steps such as regular hearing and vision checks, and removing tripping and fall hazards, improving lighting and installing grab bars in the home.