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Social Security: Are Longer Life Expectancies a Threat to Your Benefits?

Being smart about Social Security involves making guesses about your life expectancy, and over the past few decades the longevity of retirees has trended steadily upward. But while that's good news for you, it could be bad news for the Social Security program.

In the following video, Dan Caplinger, The Motley Fool's director of investment planning, looks at the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control showing just how much life expectancies have risen for those of retirement age. In 1960, 65-year-olds could expect to live just 14 years to age 79, but now the lifespan for the average 65-year-old is 19 years, taking you to age 84. Similarly, 75-year-olds have seen their life expectancies rise by two years since 1980.

Dan notes that while those figures might not sound significant, they have major implications both for recipients and for the Social Security program. For recipients, longer life expectancies make it smarter to defer benefits. But for Social Security overall, more people taking benefits longer means more strain on the system. Dan concludes that general trends are important to know, but you still have to consider your own personal health and other considerations in judging the best decision for you.

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Dan Caplinger

Dan Caplinger has been a contract writer for the Motley Fool since 2006. As the Fool's Director of Investment Planning, Dan oversees much of the personal-finance and investment-planning content published daily on With a background as an estate-planning attorney and independent financial consultant, Dan's articles are based on more than 20 years of experience from all angles of the financial world.

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