Annuities & Retirement Planning
An annuity is a financial product that can be used to accumulate cash value on a tax-deferred basis. Annuities can be a great tool for individuals to secure retirement income or to convert existing assets into a stream of income. There are four main changes everyone faces in retirement—longer life expectancies, taxes, inflation, and market volatility—and annuities help to address all four of these factors.
By accumulating tax-deferred, certain annuities are can grow larger before facing a tax liability. This, along with an interest rate of growth, helps to hedge against inflation. And because many annuities have guaranteed rates of return and are not directly exposed to the stock market, they are less susceptible to market volatility.
Most annuities have two phases—an accumulation phase and a distribution phase. During the accumulation phase, premium payments are collected and cash value within the policy account grows at a pre-determined rate.
Upon a triggering event, in most cases retirement, the annuity then begins to issue benefit payments. With a lifetime income rider, it is possible to receive benefit payments for the remainder of an individual’s life.
Just as you would find in the life insurance world, there many different types of annuities, all designed to meet different needs. Additionally, the specifics of an annuity will vary amongst the carriers and policy types.
Types of Annuities
While there are numerous versions of annuities, there are a few basic categories:
Fixed Indexed (FIA)
Single-Premium Immediate (SPIA)
Deferred Income Annuities (DIA)
A Fixed Annuity, sometimes referred to as a Traditional Fixed Annuity, provides a guaranteed interest rate as well as an initial interest rate. The actual interest rate may vary over the life of the annuity but will not fall below the guaranteed minimum interest rate (GMIR).
No matter stock market performance or the overall interest rate environment, the policy will continue to grow at the declared rate. There are Multi-Year Guaranteed Annuities (MYGA) that provide a particular interest rate over longer periods of time.
Fixed Indexed Annuity
A Fixed Indexed Annuity, sometimes referred to as an Equity-Indexed Annuity, gathers interest based on the performance of a specific stock market index, like the Dow Jones Industrial Average or the Standard & Poors 500.
Some FIAs include a guaranteed rate of return or floor, securing a base return. While a Fixed Indexed Annuity is tied to the performance of a stock index, it does not directly participate in the markets. Additionally, FIAs are protected against negative index movements. Within FIAs, there will be many interest rates capturing and crediting methods to choose from.
Single-Premium Immediate Annuity
Unlike Fixed or Fixed Indexed annuities, which provide tax-deferred growth, Single Premium Immediate Annuities do not have an accumulation or deferral period. Rather, as the name indicates, they are purchased with a lump sum of money.
Benefits are then triggered within a year of purchase. The payment amounts you receive from a SPIA will depend on the lump sum used to purchase the contract, your life expectancy, and your gender, and other factors.
Deferred Income Annuity
A Deferred Income Annuity combines elements of Deferred Fixed Annuities and Single Premium Immediate Annuities. Like SPIAs, Deferred Income Annuities are purchased with a lump sum. However, benefits can be delayed for a set period of time, allowing the contract value to grow, increasing the benefit payment amounts upon triggering distribution.
In addition, it may be possible to contribute to the initial purchase amount, which can increase benefit payouts. Because DIAs typically have a Lifetime Income Rider built into the product, they are sometimes referred to as “longevity insurance” or a “longevity annuity.”
A Variable Annuity shares many features with fixed and fixed indexed annuities. However, they are directly exposed to the stock market through underlying securities of the contract. The carrier guarantees a minimum payment, but the rate of return will vary based on the performance of the underlying securities.
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