How Long Will I Live?

Written by L. James Harvey on . Posted in Family


As I age the answer to the above question becomes more interesting to me. I find there are a number of formulas available that purport to be able to help me predict just when I might depart this life. Before I go deeper into this, let me say, as a Christian, I realize that the matter of when I die is entirely in the hands of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, where I am happy for it to be; however, speculating about how long I might have left is kind of fun to do.

There are numerous calculators available to anyone interested in this topic who has access to the internet. For example the IRS (the tax folks) have an interest in how long people might live because they want to collect their taxes on untaxed retirement funds (such as IRAs, 401Ks etc.) before you die. They therefore have a calculator which determines how much you must deduct every year once you reach the age of 70 1/2. One such calculator is offered free online by the Kiplinger organization at: . You can enter your age and the amount left in your IRA and they will calculate how much the IRS requires you to withdraw each year. You can then divide this amount into the IRA balance to get the years the IRS figures you have left to pay them the untaxed balance in your IRA or 401K before you depart.

There are some other calculators online that predict life expectancy more precisely than the IRS. One is offered by the Social Security Agency at:

One of the best and easiest calculators to use is found at: This free tool is offered by the Northwestern Mutual Company. They would like to sell you some insurance when you're done calculating, but there's no pressure to buy anything. Another calculator is found at the Wharton Business School site at the University of Pennsylvania. Their site is: This calculator is probably the most precise because they ask you to input some personal information regarding health and background. It helps, if you go there, to have a recent blood pressure reading and height and weight information. They have a short form as well as a more comprehensive one. The latter gives the best results.

Another website also has a calculator but they want you to sign up for free health bulletins and information in order to do a calculation. If you don't mind that, their web site is:

I must say I had a lot of fun running through these calculators and in averaging out how long they indicated I still had to live. I am currently 81 and the projections for me were 7, 7.6, 9.5, 13, and 17 years yet to live. I liked the 17 best. At my last annual physical exam my doctor said I was doing well and indicated I was in the top 5% of my age group health wise. He praised me for my exercise program, for keeping my weight down, and for avoiding any bad habits like smoking or drinking to excess, so I'm hoping I have a few years left on this earth, though I must admit, if the Lord decides next week is the time for His return or for His calling me home, I would be as happy as anyone. These old bones are beginning to show a bit of wear and tear.

How you know you're getting old

You call the incontinence hotline and they tell you to please hold.

Author Information
L. James Harvey
L. James Harvey was born and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He graduated from Hope College with honors and has a Ph.D. degree in Counseling from Michigan State University. He has been a high school coach and teacher, a college director, dean, vice president, and president.

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