What Does Annuitize Mean? A Guide to Annuity Settlement Options

Shawn Plummer, CRPC

Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor

Introduction to Annuitization

Annuitization is the process of converting an annuity investment into regular income payments, which is crucial for securing a steady income stream during retirement.

Types of Annuities Requiring Annuitization

Some annuities, such as Deferred Income Annuities (DIAs), Single Premium Immediate Annuities (SPIAs), and Medicaid-compliant annuities, mandate annuitization.

Why Annuitize An Annuity?

Optional Annuitization for Other Annuities

For other annuities, such as variable and fixed annuities, annuitization is optional, allowing flexibility in how payments are received.

Annuity Settlement Options

Annuity settlement options determine how you will receive payments from your annuity. Here are the most common options:

  1. Life Annuities: These annuities provide income for the rest of your life. They offer the assurance that you won’t outlive your income, but they cease payments upon your death. This option is ideal for those seeking longevity protection.
  2. Joint and Survivor Annuities: These annuities continue to provide income for as long as either you or your spouse is alive. Typically, after the first annuitant dies, the surviving spouse receives a reduced payment. This option ensures financial support for both partners.
  3. Period Certain Annuities: Guarantee payments for a specified number of years, such as 10, 15, or 20 years. If you die before the period ends, your beneficiaries receive the remaining payments. This option provides a balance between lifetime income and beneficiary benefits.
  4. Lump-Sum Payments: This allows you to withdraw the entire annuity value at once. While this provides immediate access to funds, it eliminates the potential for regular income payments and may have significant tax implications.
  5. Fixed Income: This offers predictable, regular payments based on a fixed interest rate. These are ideal for individuals seeking stability and certainty in their income.
  6. Variable Income: Payments vary based on the performance of the investments within the annuity. This option offers the potential for higher returns but comes with greater risk and variability in payment amounts.
  7. Life with Period Certain: Combines lifetime payments with a guaranteed period. If you die before the period ends, payments continue to your beneficiaries for the remaining term.
  8. Life with Installment Refund: Ensures that if you die before receiving total payments equal to your initial investment, your beneficiaries will receive the remaining balance.
  9. Life with Cash Refund: This is similar to the installment refund, but if you die prematurely, your beneficiaries receive a lump-sum payment equal to the remaining balance.
  10. Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA): This adjustment adjusts your payments for inflation, increasing your income over time to maintain purchasing power.
Annuitization

Annuitization vs. Withdrawal

When deciding between annuitization and withdrawals, consider the following:

  • Annuitization: Offers a steady, guaranteed income stream and longevity protection but is typically irreversible. This option is suitable for those who prioritize a consistent income and are less concerned with liquidity.
  • Withdrawals: Provide flexibility and control over how much and when you take money out. The remaining balance continues to grow, offering potential for future income. This option is ideal for those who prefer flexibility and may need access to their funds for various expenses.
Annuity Annuitized Payments

What We Recommend

Choosing the right option depends on your financial needs, life expectancy, and desired income security. Understanding these options helps you make informed decisions for a stable and secure retirement.

For personalized advice and detailed information on annuitization and annuity settlement options, contact us for free advice or a quote.

Annuitization Of Annuity Payments

Annuitization Help

Get help from a licensed financial professional. This service is free of charge.

Contact Us
First
Last

Questions From Our Readers

Why should I annuitize annuity payments?

You guarantee an income stream for the rest of your life or a fixed period. Therefore, one should consider annuitization as adding an extra layer of retirement income complementing Social Security Income.

If an annuitant dies before annuitization occurs, what will the beneficiary receive?

Typically, the annuity’s account value is distributed to the designated beneficiary in a lump sum. However, a few annuity contracts distribute the annuity’s value over a fixed period.

Can I change my mind after annuitizing?

No. The decision to annuitize the annuity is final. You can not switch your annuity payment option either. In most cases, you cannot withdraw additional funds from your annuity either. Always have additional funds that are liquid in case of an emergency.

What is the annuitization period?

The annuitization period is when an annuity distributes payments to the contract owner. The annuitization period begins once the annuity owner has received the first payment.

What happens when an annuity ends?

When an annuity ends, the outcome depends on the type of annuity and the specific terms of the contract. A life annuity will continue to make payments until the annuitant’s death. A fixed-term annuity will end when the term is up, with the remaining balance paid out in a lump sum or rolled over into another investment. A deferred annuity will typically convert to a life or annuity with a fixed payout period when it matures.

How does an annuity payout work?

An annuity payout is how an insurance company distributes income from an annuity contract to the annuitant. The type of annuity and contract terms determine the type of payout, such as immediate, deferred, life, joint life, fixed-term, or variable annuity. It’s important to understand options and choose the right type of annuity. Consulting with a financial advisor can help ensure the best decision.

Which type of annuity stops all payments upon the death of the annuitant?

A joint and survivor annuity stops all payments upon the death of the annuitant. This annuity plan provides regular income for the annuitant and their spouse, guaranteeing continued payments even after one of them passes away. However, once both annuitants have died, the payments cease.

If an annuitant dies before annuitization occurs, what will the beneficiary receive?

If an annuitant dies before annuitization, the beneficiary may receive a death benefit, a portion of payments, or the contract may be transferred to a designated beneficiary, depending on the type of annuity and terms of the contract.

Are annuity payments guaranteed?

Annuity payments can be guaranteed, but it depends on the type. For example, fixed annuities offer a guaranteed interest rate for a period. In contrast, variable annuities are linked to the performance of underlying investments and do not guarantee a specific rate of return. In addition, immediate annuities provide a guaranteed income stream for life, while deferred annuities guarantee the original investment principal.

What does annuitized mean?

“Annuitized” refers to the process of converting the accumulated capital in an annuity into a series of periodic income payments, either for a certain fixed period or for the annuitant’s remaining lifetime, providing a consistent income stream.

Which of these will have the highest monthly payout upon annuitization?

When it comes to annuitization, determining which investment option will yield the highest monthly payout depends on various factors such as interest rates, investment terms, and the chosen annuity provider. It is essential to compare different options and consult a financial advisor to make an informed decision.

What happens when an annuity matures?

When an annuity matures, the contract reaches its end date, and the policyholder can choose how to receive their funds. They have several options, including taking a lump sum, rolling it over into another annuity, or receiving periodic payments. The taxation and potential penalties associated with these choices vary depending on the type of annuity and the policyholder’s age.

Which of these will have the highest monthly payout upon annuitization?

When it comes to annuitization, the monthly payout can vary. Several factors, like age, gender, and interest rates, influence the payout amount. Typically, the highest monthly payout is achieved with a deferred annuity, providing a longer accumulation period. However, to determine which option has the highest payout, an individual should consult with a financial advisor who can analyze their specific circumstances.

What happens if you don’t annuitize an annuity?

If you don’t annuitize an annuity, you can still access your money through withdrawals, but you forgo the guaranteed income stream annuitization provides. Your account may grow tax-deferred, and you can take lump-sum or systematic withdrawals, depending on your contract. However, not annuitizing might affect the annuity’s death benefit and result in higher fees or charges for early withdrawals, impacting the overall value of your annuity.

What is the process of converting an annuity’s accumulated value into a periodic income stream?

Converting an annuity’s accumulated value into a periodic income stream is called annuitization. This involves transitioning the annuity from the accumulation phase, where funds are invested and grow tax-deferred, to the distribution phase, where the annuity pays out a guaranteed income to the annuitant. The income amount is determined by the annuity’s accumulated value, the annuitant’s age, the payout option chosen, and other contract terms.

I have annuitized annuities but need to cash them out due to financial hardship. What are my options?

First, check for a commutation benefit. If none is available, consider selling the payments for cash.

Do annuitization payments from a nonqualified annuity received before age 59½ qualify as an exception to early withdrawal penalties?

In the case of nonqualified annuities, each payment typically consists of both principal and interest. For those under 59½, the interest portion of these annuitization payments may be subject to early withdrawal penalties. However, this impact is usually minimal since the interest is only a part of each payment. Once you reach 59½, these penalties no longer apply. It’s important to note that if these annuitized payments originate from a tax-deferred vehicle like a transferred cash value life insurance policy or a previous nonqualified annuity, the tax-deferred interest earned will be subject to early withdrawal penalties until you reach 59½.

I have a qualified annuity, annuitized the policy, and received a fixed monthly payment. I know this is taxable, but are there RMD requirements for these funds as well?

The payments should be enough to fulfill the RMD requirement for that specific qualified annuity but not for any other qualified retirement accounts.

If I annuitize an annuity, I can see the benefit of a joint annuity guarantee for a spouse. Still, a financial advisor is telling me I’m dumb if I don’t also buy a 20-year guarantee so that if we both die in less than 20 years, a third beneficiary gets the remainder. Is this the best route?

The best option is to choose a fixed indexed annuity with a Guaranteed Lifetime Withdrawal Benefit and select the Joint-Life payout option. This will provide income for both spouses’ lifetimes, and any remaining balance will be passed down to beneficiaries in a lump sum. This will also allow the account to accrue interest, you have more control, and liquidity.

I inherited an annuity that has already been annuitized. what are my options?

Once a policy has been annuitized, there are likely not any options available.  You will continue to receive payments according to the contract schedule, but trying to get a lump sum or loan is likely not an option.

Shawn Plummer, CRPC

Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor

Shawn Plummer is a Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor, insurance agent, and annuity broker with over 14 years of first-hand experience with annuities and insurance. Since beginning his journey in 2009, he has been pivotal in selling and educating about annuities and insurance products. Still, he has also played an instrumental role in training financial advisors for a prestigious Fortune Global 500 insurance company, Allianz. His insights and expertise have made him a sought-after voice in the industry, leading to features in renowned publications such as Time Magazine, Bloomberg, Entrepreneur, Yahoo! Finance, MSN, SmartAsset, The Simple Dollar, U.S. News and World Report, Women’s Health Magazine, and many more. Shawn’s driving ambition? To simplify retirement planning, he ensures his clients understand their choices and secure the best insurance coverage at unbeatable rates.

The Annuity Expert is an independent online insurance agency servicing consumers across the United States. The goal is to help you take the guesswork out of retirement planning and find the best insurance coverage at the cheapest rates

Scroll to Top