A deferred annuity is a type of long-term personal retirement account designed to help grow your assets, and provide a steady income stream once you are retired. A deferred annuity has two phases: the savings and investing phase, and the retirement income phase.
All of your earnings are tax-deferred, which means you don't pay any taxes on your earnings until you withdraw your money, usually at retirement. Amounts withdrawn prior to age 59½ are generally subject to a 10% federal income tax penalty as well as ordinary income taxes.
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You can make a single, lump sum contribution and add to it later, or you can make multiple contributions over time.
Savings and Investing Phase
During the saving and investing phase, your assets are accumulated for potential growth. A fixed deferred annuity generally offers guarantee of principal and a guaranteed interest rate for a set period of time by the issuing insurance company. Variable deferred annuities offer greater growth potential and investment flexibility with a full range of stock and bond investment choices, often with a fixed interest account.
Retirement Income Phase
During this phase, you have a choice of how to structure your income payments to complement your other retirement income sources. You can choose systematic withdrawals, take income as you need it, or convert your savings into a series of steady income payments (called annuitizing your contract). You can elect to receive these payments for a set time period, or can choose a guaranteed income for life, a feature only available in annuities.
Guaranteed Death Benefit
Most variable deferred annuities provide a guaranteed death benefit, prior to annuitizing your contract, that guarantees your beneficiaries will never receive less than the amount you contributed, less withdrawals, even if the markets have declined. Many variable annuities, offer a choice of death benefits that can increase over time, based on your account value. A guaranteed death benefit is one of the insurance benefits which annuities can provide.
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Types of Deferred Annuities
Fixed Deferred Annuities
offer a guaranteed interest rate for a set period of time. Your earnings grow tax deferred until you begin to withdraw your income. Because your principal and interest rate are guaranteed by the issuing company, it is important to consider a strong, stable company that will be there tomorrow. The company generally resets the interest rate periodically, but guarantees the rate will never fall below a minimum rate stated in your contract.
You can have a fixed deferred annuity that accepts a single payment or one that accepts multiple payments.
Variable Deferred Annuities
offer investment choice and flexibility. Variable annuities offer a range of stock and bond investment choices that can provide higher returns than a fixed rate account, but the returns are not guaranteed. Many variable annuities also offer a fixed rate account. All of your earnings grow tax deferred until you begin to withdraw them.
You have the flexibility to transfer among the investment choices within the variable annuity tax free, and can often take advantage of dollar cost averaging, automatic rebalancing of your account, and other investment strategies.