Rather than specifying an interest rate and telling you how long your payments will last, Dr Pfau's chart specifies the age you survive to and tells you the interest rate required to make those payments last your lifetime
Ahhh! Now I understand his table. Either he didn't explain it very well, or I just miscomprehended what he was saying.
Indeed my calculations just about equal his.
Re-reading his table with an eye to how you explained it, we agree.
At 0% earnings rate, the breakeven age is 80.
At 3%, age 85.
At 5%, age 91.
At 6.5%, age 105.
At 5.3%, age 92.
All net of inflation.
Vanguard says that the average return (1926-2013) of a 50/50 balanced portfolio was 8.3%. If you subtract 3% inflation and use 5.3% earnings and add 3% SS COLA, it just about cancels out and the breakeven age is 92 1/2.
So there's the thing, and everybody who does the math right comes up with pretty much the same answer.
No earnngs, breakeven is 10 years
3% (after inflation) the breakeven is 15 years.
What is different is which aspect of the situation is given the emphasis.
One camp says, "If you live to 90, you'll get more SS if you delay."
The other camp says, "If I earn nothing, I'll be 80 before I break even. If I save or invest and earn 4% (after inflation) I'll be 84 when I break even."
It is worth noting that the SSA reports life expectancy is 84 years old. So on average the break-even date is just about the same as the date of death.
The reason the debate sometimes gets so heated is that there is really no difference financially. The only difference is in which aspect is more important to you.
I am in the second camp, but acknowledge that many reasonable people are in the first camp. My thinking is that I would continue to use the same investment skills that got me to early retirement in the first place, and apply those skills to the early SS money. So even a low-risk 50/50 investment would easily push the breakeven date to long after my life expectancy. And if I went with a riskier 80/20 investment there is NEVER a breakeven.