by: Ken Nuss | February 4, 2021
Few of us would go without auto, home, life or health insurance. But the kind of insurance that protects against the risk of running out of money in old age is still greatly underutilized. It’s called a deferred income annuity or a longevity annuity.
I believe most people planning for retirement should strongly consider an income annuity, and a Brookings Institution report confirms that belief. The concept of this type of annuity is simple. The buyer deposits a lump sum or series of payments with an insurer. In return, the insurer guarantees to pay you a stream of income in the future. That’s why it’s known as a deferred income annuity.
ou choose when your payments will begin. Most people choose lifetime payments starting at age 80 or older. Guaranteed lifetime income is a cost-effective way to insure against running out of money during very old age.
The main disadvantage is that the annuity has no liquidity. You’ve transferred your money to an insurance company in exchange for a guarantee of future income. People who can’t afford to tie up any of their money shouldn’t buy a deferred income annuity.
Given that traditional company pensions have largely gone away, there should be great demand for income annuities, Martin Neil Baily of Brookings and Benjamin Harris of the Kellogg School of Management write in the 2019 Brookings Institution report, titled “Can Annuities Become a Bigger Contributor to Retirement Security?” But the demand just isn’t there.
Why? A few reasons:
Income deferral is a key part of the equation. The insurer invests your money so it grows until you begin receiving income. For instance, if you buy an annuity at age 55 and don’t start income payments until 85, you reap the advantage of 30 years of compounded growth without current taxes. You reap the same growth and tax advantages with a 401(k) or an IRA, but with a nonqualified annuity (one that’s not in a retirement plan) you don’t have to take required minimum distributions (RMDs) starting at age 72 and thus can extend tax deferral. Furthermore, nonqualified annuities aren’t subject to annual limits on contributions like IRAs and 401(k)s are, so you can stash away much more if you like.
The longer you delay taking payments from deferred income annuities and the older you are when you start taking them, the greater the monthly payout.
Second, buyers who do not live to an advanced old age subsidize those who do. Such risk-sharing is how all insurance works, whether it’s home, auto or longevity insurance.
A deferred income annuity provides unique flexibility in planning your retirement. Suppose you plan to retire at 65. You can use part of your savings to buy a deferred income annuity that will provide lifetime income starting at 85, for example. Then, with the balance of your retirement money, you only need to create an income plan that gets you from age 65 to 85 — instead of indefinitely.
Anil Vazirani is president of Secured Financial Solutions, independent insurance advisor investment advisor rep with a fiduciary obligation and in the financial services industry since 1994. A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau for over a decade and a half, members in good standing with the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors.
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