Social Security News and Updates

Want to Delay Claiming Social Security Benefits But Need Income Sooner? An Annuity May Help

by Retirement Tips

Sep 5, 2023

Advantages of Annuity

Considering its lasting impact, choosing when to start receiving your Social Security benefit can be problematic. Whether to begin at age 62, wait until 70, or find a middle ground is a decision with nuances. Simplifying this complexity, an annuity emerges as a potential solution.

This financial instrument might offer the flexibility to commence your benefit earlier, while also potentially mitigating the reduction in the benefit amount.

What is an Annuity?

Senior man checking bills at home, What is an annuity

An annuity is a personalized arrangement crafted by an insurance company, transforming an investor’s premiums into a secure, unchanging retirement income source.

A binding, written pact between you and the issuing annuity provider lies within the annuity framework. This contract serves as a conduit for transferring your longevity risk, essentially the concern of outliving your financial resources, to the life insurance company. In return, your commitment involves adhering to the premium payment structure delineated in the agreement.

In retirement, ample provisions often extend beyond Social Security and investment savings. Annuities step in, potentially offering a pathway to accumulate wealth, delay tax obligations, safeguard your principal, and establish a dependable income stream for your retirement years.

How Does an Annuity Work?

In their simplest form, annuities transform a premium into a steady stream of payments. The payment amount and duration of the variable deferred annuity will hinge on various considerations, including the specific annuity type, premium size, the annuitant’s age, and the chosen payout method. Under the insightful guidance of a seasoned financial advisor, these nuances can be navigated with clarity.

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Annuities can be strategically tailored for income stability or long-term growth, yet they aren’t designed as short-term investment solutions. The majority of annuities facilitate income generation through a process involving accumulation and ‘annuitization.’

However, immediate annuities are an exception, initiating payouts as soon as a month after purchase, eliminating the need for an accumulation phase.

The insurance company pays the initial premium when opting for a deferred annuity. Over the accumulation phase, which typically spans five to 30 years per your contract terms, guaranteed income from this investment grows on a tax-deferred basis. Once the annuitization or distribution phase, as stipulated by your contract, commences, you begin receiving consistent payments.

A senior couple planning, insurance company, annuity

A distinctive feature of annuity contracts is their ability to transfer all market-related risks to the insurance company. This arrangement ensures that you, the annuity owner, are safeguarded from the impacts of market fluctuations and longevity uncertainties.

Insurance companies institute fees for investment management, contract riders, and administrative services to mitigate these risks. Additionally, most annuity contracts encompass surrender periods during which withdrawals without incurring surrender charges are restricted.

Indexed annuities typically incorporate caps, spreads, and participation rates, which can influence your returns.

Annuity Benefits

annuity benefits

Tax-Deferred Growth

Tax-deferred growth is a standout benefit, enabling investors to save without immediate tax liabilities on earned interest. This distinction from 401(k)s and IRAs, accompanied by the absence of contribution limits, adds allure to annuities.

Dependable Income Stream

Annuities help establish a dependable income stream. The assurance of financial security, unburdened by concerns of depleting retirement savings, marks a distinct advantage in an era devoid of traditional pensions.

Personalization of Annuity Contract

The benefits of the personalized nature of annuity investments align with individual lifestyles and financial standings. The narrative is imbued with strategic insights tailored to diverse needs, from tax-deferred growth to flexibility in investment amounts.

What Advantages of Delaying Benefits Can an Annuity Provide?

delaying benefits

Let’s think about some of the reasons someone might want to delay taking their Social Security benefit until 70:

  • To get the maximum benefit amount possible.
  • Trying to get ahead of inflation.
  • Increase the survivor benefit for their spouse.

Here’s how an annuity can help with all of these:

  • The income that the annuity provides may allow you to retire earlier than you had initially planned
  • The income from the annuity can act as a hedge against rising inflation
  • The surviving spouse will continue to receive lifetime income payments

That last point gains paramount significance for couples whose spouses are recipients of benefits. In the unfortunate event of one spouse’s passing, the surviving partner’s access to death benefits and the potential survivor’s benefits may decrease overall income.

This is where a death benefit or an annuity can play a pivotal role, extending a lifeline to the surviving spouse by offering an income source that counterbalances the reduction in benefits.

Types of Annuities

types of annuities

Categorizing annuities can be approached from various angles, each guided by distinct considerations.

Among the prominent classifications, the growth trajectory is a prevalent factor. Fixed, variable, and fixed-index annuities emerge as the primary categories, each reflecting a unique growth approach.

Choosing the annuity right for you involves assessing your risk tolerance — evaluating your preference for safeguarding your investment versus pursuing the prospect of amplified returns.

Fixed Annuity

Opting for a fixed annuity entails minimal risk and maximum reliability. These annuities boast a locked-in interest rate that remains constant throughout the contract’s duration, evading the tumultuous fluctuations that often characterize other investments. This unwavering stability is a defining characteristic of fixed annuities. However, it’s important to note that occasional instances may arise where the interest rate resets after a stipulated number of years.

fixed annuity, insurance company, deferred annuity

Multi-Year Guaranteed Annuity (MYGA)

A multi-year guaranteed annuity (MYGA) stands as a notable contender. MYGA variety presents a steady interest rate consistent over a predetermined timeframe, typically three to 10 years. The MYGA’s prime application lies in catering to individuals close to retirement, who seek a tax-deferred avenue that guarantees returns on their investment.

Variable Annuity

The variable annuity offers regular payments influenced by the performance of subaccounts, the financial vehicles responsible for nurturing the annuity’s growth. Consequently, these payments may experience fluctuations. Drawing parallels to mutual funds, subaccounts operate comparably. If subaccounts perform robustly, payments may rise, while their decline could lead to smaller payments.

Fixed Index Annuity

The payments from Fixed Index Annuities are intricately linked to market indices like the S&P 500 or Nasdaq. These annuities safeguard against potential principal loss in the event of index declines. This intrinsic protection elevates the security of fixed index annuities above direct investments in index funds. This safeguard comes with a trade-off, as fixed index annuities limit gains and losses.

Types of Annuities Based on Payments

types of annuity payments

Immediate Annuity

An immediate annuity, sometimes called an income annuity, offers prompt payments within a year of purchase, often funded by retirement accounts like a 401(k). This option is ideal for those stepping away from work while desiring a consistent income for life. income

Deferred Annuity

In contrast, a deferred annuity bestows future payments, commonly aligning with retirement, and nurtures investment growth tax-deferred. You will choose how long you want to receive the payments.

Annuity Payout Duration

payout duration

Classification of annuities can also be based on payout duration. Four primary categories of annuities are determined by the length of payments: fixed-period, straight life, life with period certain, and joint and survivor annuities.

Fixed-Period Annuities

Fixed-period annuities ensure payments are spread out over a predetermined span, often 20 or 30 years. Notably, the age and health of the annuity holder have no bearing on payment amounts in this annuity type.

Straight Life Annuities

Also referred to as lifetime annuities. These annuities offer assurance of payments throughout the annuitant’s lifetime, with calculations based on the annuitant’s age and health, the life expectancy determinant. Life Annuities guarantee perpetual income. Irrespective of payments received exceeding the annuity’s value, ensuring financial security throughout life.

Life with Period

Life with period encompasses a unique feature, promising lifetime payments to the annuitant while guaranteeing payments for a set term, usually 10 to 20 years. The designated beneficiary receives the remaining payments if the annuitant passes within the predetermined period. Conversely, if the annuitant surpasses this term, payments persist throughout their lifetime.

Joint and Survivor Annuities

These annuities cater predominantly to married couples aspiring to secure an income stream for both lifetimes. A joint and survivor annuity ensures continuous payments for the lifetimes of two individuals. Following the primary annuitant’s passing, payments persist for the surviving secondary annuitant. Note the IRS’s stipulation that survivor payments must range from 50% to 100% of the initial annuitant’s amount, underscoring the regulatory framework for most annuities.

Other Types of Annuities

other types of annuities

Long-Term Care Annuities: tax-deferred annuity with a rider added that sets up long-term care payments.

Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) Annuities: an annuity purchased with a TSP account.

Group Annuity Contracts: offered through employers as part of a retirement benefits package.

Registered Index-Linked Annuities: RILA utilizes the stock market index to determine gains and losses but allows a threshold to be set for maximum loss.

Charitable Gift Annuity: Annuities purchased by charities using the donor’s financial gift. The donor receives the annuity payments until their death; the charity will receive the remaining balance.

Individual Retirement Annuities: an annuity contract that provides tax benefits like an individual retirement account (IRA).

Disadvantages of Annuity

retired couple, disadvantages of annuity

While some individuals may find sacrificing liquidity for lifelong financial security disadvantageous, this perspective depends on one’s financial position and short-term objectives. Should cash limitations or immediate goals characterize your situation, an annuity might not align with your needs.

When compared with investment products, there can be apprehension about commissions, fees, complexity, and comparatively conservative returns. These insights empower prospective investors to approach annuities with informed perspectives.

The concept of “opportunity cost” is also a consideration. This cost encapsulates the potential gains forfeited from alternative investments. Investors leaning towards higher risk tolerance frequently view opportunity cost as a drawback of annuities.

As someone ages, their need for what the annuity may do for them depreciates. Some institutions cannot issue annuities to individuals much past 80. Many people look to annuities as a source of an income guarantee, typically a step in the planning process as someone approaches retirement or very early in retirement.

On the other side, an annuity may not be the right next step for you if you are too young, generally, if you are under 50 and have ten years or more until you retire. In that case, you are still in the accumulation phase of retirement planning, and looking into annuities may be premature.

How to Pick the Right Annuity

how to pick the right annuity

Selecting the right annuity can pose challenges, as these intricate and sometimes costly financial instruments, while offering valuable advantages, may not suit every individual.

If purchasing any annuity crosses your mind, verifying its compatibility with your financial strategy and thoroughly comprehending the product’s nature is important. Engaging a financial advisor may be beneficial if you feel uncertain about annuity strategies, tax implications, or long-term planning.

One of our financial advisors can help. Request a complimentary, no-obligation consultation with a financial advisor today to get started!

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Retirement Tips

Retirement Tips is an educational blog dedicated to helping workers and retirees become more knowledgeable about retirement and financial planning.

We want to help readers learn more about their retirement investing options, programs like Medicare and Social Security, and difficult-but-important topics like long-term care and estate planning.

Our goal is to help you make more informed decisions when it comes to your retirement and to make it easier for you to connect with an advisor in your area should you need professional financial advice.

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