Prepared by Public Affairs 312-751-4777
Every three years, the Railroad Retirement Board's Chief Actuary
conducts a study of the longevity of its annuitants, as part of a valuation of
future revenues and benefit payments. The following questions and answers
summarize the results of the most recent longevity study.
1. What were the study's findings on the life expectancy of retired male
The most recent data reflected a continued
improvement in longevity. Using data through 2009, the study indicated that, on
the average, a male railroader retiring at age 60 can be expected to live
another 21.9 years, or approximately 263 months. Studies done three, six and
nine years ago indicated life expectancies of 21.3, 20.7 and 20.1 years,
respectively, for this category of beneficiary. The study also indicated that a
male railroader retiring at age 62 can be expected to live another 20.1 years
(241 months), while the previous three studies indicated life expectancies of
19.6, 19, and 18.5 years, respectively. A male railroader retiring at age 65 can
be expected to live another 17.7 years (approximately 212 months). The previous
studies indicated life expectancies of 17.1, 16.6, and 16.1 years, respectively,
for this category of beneficiary.
2. How did these life
expectancy figures compare to those of disabled annuitants?
As would be expected, disabled annuitants have a shorter average life
expectancy, but the difference decreases with age. At age 60, a disabled
railroader has an average life expectancy of 17.2 years, or 4.7 years less than
a nondisabled male annuitant of the same age; at age 65, a disabled annuitant
has an average life expectancy of 3.6 years less than a nondisabled 65-year-old
annuitant; and at age 70 the difference is only 2.8 years.
3. Are women still living longer than men?
general, women still live longer than men. This is shown both in the Railroad
Retirement Board's life expectancy studies of male and female annuitants and by
other studies of the general United States population.
example, at age 60 a retired female railroader is expected on the average to
live 25.1 years, 3.2 years longer than a retired male railroader of the same
age; and at age 65, a retired female railroader is expected on the average to
live 20.5 years, 2.8 years longer than her male counterpart. Spouses and widows
age 65 have average life expectancies of 20.7 years and 18.7 years,
4. Can individuals use life expectancy
figures to predict how long they will live?
expectancy figures are averages for large groups of people. Any particular
individual's lifetime may be much longer or shorter than the life expectancy of
his or her age and group.
According to the study, from a group of
1,000 retired male employees at age 65, 927 will live at least 5 years, 809 at
least 10 years, 631 at least 15 years, and 414 at least 20 years. Of female age
annuitants at age 65, 560 will be alive 20 years later.
5. How do the life expectancies of railroad retirement annuitants compare with
those of the general population?
While exact data were
not available for direct comparison, data available to the Railroad Retirement
Board did not indicate significant differences, except for 60-year-old
annuitants. Male and female railroaders retiring at age 60 can be expected to
live 1 and 1.2 years longer, respectively, than those in the equivalent category
of the general population.
The entire longevity study is
available on the agency's website at www.rrb.gov.