It's October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and women are reminded to consider the financial implications of the disease, particularly in their retirement years, when its prevalence increases. 

According to the National Cancer Registry (2012), one in 26 South Africans will be diagnosed with breast cancer. And about two out of three invasive breast cancers are found in women 55 or older. Further, South Africa’s cancer prevalence rates are expected to increase by 78% by 2030.
Breast cancer has one of the highest survival rates of all the potentially fatal cancers, and the financial implications are often underestimated. Apart from the financial pressure that comes with not having enough retirement capital, potential shortfalls in the payment of medical expenses may add to the stress.

One solution for retirees is a medically underwritten enhanced annuity, which provides a higher income for people with ill health.  
Justine Wyatt, the legal and compliance executive at Just SA, which provides such annuities, says that 63% of Just’s cases quoted on to date were medically underwritten and qualified for a higher monthly income at retirement, including retirees who were diagnosed with breast cancer.

So how much more could you qualify for as a retiree if you were diagnosed with breast cancer?

In one Just case, a retiree aged 63 qualified for a 12.3% higher monthly income as a result of being medically underwritten. She had smoked eight cigarettes a day for 41 years and was diagnosed with breast cancer three years ago. She completed surgery, a course of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, and is using a hormone suppressant. She approached Just for a lifetime income that targets increases in line with inflation.

The woman had a purchase sum of R786 345 at retirement. She would have received an initial annuity income of R4 141 a month without underwriting. After underwriting, the increased amount was R4 723 a month.

Wyatt says: “Just has developed an innovative way in which to combine the best features of both living and guaranteed annuities to help you cover your basic living expenses, while still having flexibility with your discretionary income. Retirees are fully medically underwritten to help protect themselves against the potential financial implications of an illness such as breast cancer. It is best when reaching retirement to meet a financial adviser, who will be able to help you choose the right options for your circumstances.”