So many Americans are living past 85 that it may push the designation of ‘oldest of the old’ from 85-plus to 90 and older in just a few years, according to a Census Bureau report released Thursday.

“Can 90 be the new 85?" asked Dr. Richard Suzman of the National Institute on Aging at the National Institutes of Health.

In 1980, there were only 720,000 Americans who had lived past their 90th birthdays.  By last year, that number had grown to almost two million.  At that rate, the Census Bureau projects by 2050, the United States is likely to have 9 million people 90 and older.

Dr. Suzman says "Because of increasing numbers of older people and increases in life expectancy at older ages, the oldest segments of the older population are growing the fastest.”

And they're not all on the verge of death with one foot in the grave. Today's average 90-year-old can expect to live another 4.6 years, and anyone who makes it to 100 can reasonably expect to squeeze out more than two more years of life.

This may be great news for those of us who want to live into our ninth decade. But it’s difficult news for policymakers.

America's growing elderly population is putting growing pressure on Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, and that pressure will increase as more and more Americans live longer.

via Census Report: '90 Is the New 85' - Sophie Quinton - NationalJournal.com.

This outlook underscores the serious need for people to plan for their old age.  People who're still working should be putting as much money as possible into savings, IRA's and long term investments that can guarantee them an income when they can't work anymore.

Tragically, millions of people reach retirement age flat broke.