The Security of an Immediate Annuity Can Make for Smooth Sailing

by Hersh Stern - Revised Sunday, April 7, 2024

An old idea is gaining ground in the new economy: Guaranteeing a steady stream of income in retirement that you can't outlive. That was the concept behind traditional pension plans. But 21st-century retirees will be looking for ways to turn years of accumulated savings in 401(k) plans and IRAs into reliable streams of income without suffering stock-market upsets.

That's why a growing number of retirees are looking at single premium immediate annuities as a way of creating predictable income. "It's a do-it-yourself pension for a do-it-yourself world," says one retiree.

When you buy an immediate annuity from an insurance company, you exchange a lump sum of cash for the assurance that you will receive monthly checks for the rest of your life (or, for a specified period of time). The size of your checks is based on your age and sometimes gender (women get less because they tend to live longer) and how much you invest. How much you get each month also depends on whether you buy an annuity with payouts that cover your lifetime only, your lifetime but with a guaranteed minimum term (so all is not lost if you die prematurely), or your life and that of your spouse.

From heresy to gospel

Most financial writers used to think that turning over a chunk of a client's nest egg to an insurance company in exchange for level guaranteed payments was sheer heresy -- particularly when stocks were routinely producing double-digit returns.

But recent findings show that a retirement portfolio divided between an immediate annuity and a managed stock account could supercharge retirement security, providing both more guaranteed income and larger payouts than from a fully managed portfolio. It makes sense to hedge your bets by using part of your cash for an immediate annuity to establish a guaranteed stream of income while leaving the rest of your money invested for growth.

The assets invested for growth can help protect against inflation. A retiree can always buy an additional annuity later in life to increase monthly income and get a bigger bang for his buck because the payouts increase with your purchase age. While you're still counting on growth, by diverting part of your cash to an annuity you reduce the stakes if the market slumps.

Monthly Annuity Calculator

This is a monthly annuity calculator. It calculates the amount of monthly income you will receive in return for a specific "Investment" (aka Premium). Premium is the purchase amount you pay to the insurance company. With this calculator you can also find what Premium would be necessary in order to receive a specific monthly income amount. To use the annuity calculator, simply select your age, state, and gender. Enter a dollar amount in only one of the two boxes labeled "Investment" or "Monthly Income." Then, choose an income start date. Click "Calculate" and you will see a table with annuity quotes. Feel free to call 800-872-6684 if you have any questions about annuities or your quotes.

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