Annuity Payments Vs. Lifetime Withdrawals

Shawn Plummer

CEO, The Annuity Expert

annuitization vs withdrawal

Annuitized Annuity Payments

What They Are: Annuitized annuity payments involve converting your annuity’s value into regular, periodic payments over a specified time or for life.


  • Predictability: Offers a guaranteed income stream.
  • Longevity Protection: Ideal if you’re concerned about outliving your assets.
  • Tax Efficiency: Portions of each payment are considered a return on your original investment, reducing taxable income.

Lifetime Withdrawals

What They Are: Lifetime withdrawals allow you to take funds from your annuity while the balance remains invested.


  • Flexibility: You can decide when and how much to withdraw.
  • Control Over Investment: Your remaining balance continues to be invested, offering potential growth.
Annuitization Vs Withdrawal

Annuity Payment Options: Irrevocable vs. Revocable

Irrevocable Annuity Payments

  • Definition: Once chosen, the payment plan cannot be altered.
  • Security: Provides a stable, unchangeable income.
  • Consideration: Best for those who want absolute certainty in their financial planning.

Revocable Annuity Payments

  • Definition: Offers flexibility to change the annuity terms.
  • Advantages: Adjust payments based on changing life circumstances or financial needs.

Fixed Period Payouts vs. Lifetime Payouts

Fixed Period Payouts

  • Characteristics: Payments are made for a specified period (e.g., 10, 20 years).
  • Suitability: Ideal for those with specific financial goals within a set time frame.

Lifetime Payouts

  • Characteristics: Payments continue for the life of the annuitant.
  • Advantage: Eliminates the risk of outliving your assets.

Related Reading: How Long Will a Million Dollars Last if 5% is Withdrawn Annually?

Death Benefits: Which Payments Include Them?

  • Annuitized Payments: Annuitization typically offers no death benefits unless specifically structured.
  • Lifetime Withdrawals: The remaining balance, if any, can often be passed on to beneficiaries.
  • Fixed Period: If the annuitant passes away before the end of the period, the remaining payments may go to designated beneficiaries.

Annuity Payment Options

FeatureAnnuitized PaymentsLifetime WithdrawalsFixed Period PayoutsLifetime Payouts
Payment PredictabilityHighModerateHighHigh
Investment ControlNoneFullLimitedNone
Death BenefitsLimitedYesConditionalLimited
SuitabilityLong-term securityFlexibility & ControlSpecific GoalsLongevity Risk

Every Annuity Payout Option

Annuities offer a range of payout options to suit different financial needs and goals. Here’s a comprehensive list of these options:

  1. Life Annuity (Straight Life): Payments continue for the annuitant’s lifetime but cease upon their death. This option generally offers the highest payout because it carries the risk of no payments to beneficiaries.
  2. Joint and Survivor Annuity: Payments continue for the lifetime of the annuitant and, after their death, continue to a designated survivor (usually a spouse) at either the same or a reduced rate.
  3. Life Annuity with Period Certain: Payments are made for the annuitant’s lifetime, but if the annuitant dies before a certain period (e.g., 10 or 20 years), the payments continue to beneficiaries for the remainder of that period.
  4. Fixed Period Annuity (Period Certain Annuity): Payments are made for a specific period, regardless of how long the annuitant lives. If the annuitant dies before the period ends, the remaining payments go to their beneficiaries.
  5. Fixed Amount Annuity: A specific amount is paid out periodically until the annuity funds are exhausted.
  6. Deferred Annuity: Payouts begin at a future date specified in the annuity contract. This option allows the annuity to grow before payouts start.
  7. Immediate Annuity: Payments begin almost immediately after the annuity is purchased, typically within one year of purchase.
  8. Variable Annuity: The payouts vary based on the performance of the investments chosen within the annuity.
  9. Indexed Annuity: Payouts are tied to a market index (like the S&P 500), offering the potential for higher returns based on market performance, with some level of protection against market downturns.
  10. Guaranteed Minimum Income Benefit (GMIB): An optional rider that ensures a minimum level of annuity payments, regardless of market conditions.
  11. Inflation-Adjusted Annuity: Payments increase over time to offset the effects of inflation, preserving purchasing power.
  12. Lump-Sum Payment: The entire value of the annuity is paid out in one large payment, rather than in periodic payments.

Next Steps

The journey to understanding financial terms can be daunting, especially concerning our golden years. However, when armed with the correct information, decisions become more apparent. Whether you lean towards annuitization or the Guaranteed Lifetime Withdrawal Benefit, remember that both aim to provide financial security. Evaluate your priorities, consult a financial advisor, and make informed choices for a peaceful retirement. Your future self will thank you!

The Difference Between Annuity Payments And Lifetime Withdrawals

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Frequently Asked Questions

How do you convert an annuity to an income stream?

Initiate the lifetime withdrawals or annuitization phase of your annuity contract to start income payments.

Can you withdraw money from a lifetime annuity?

Withdrawing money from a lifetime annuity is generally restricted, as these annuities are designed to provide regular income for life. Some contracts may offer limited withdrawal options, but these often come with penalties, reduced future payments, and potential tax implications.

Can a lifetime annuity run out of money?

A true lifetime annuity is designed to provide income for as long as you live, so it won’t run out of money. Payments continue until your death, regardless of market conditions or how long you live.

What is the difference between annuitization vs. withdrawal?

Annuitization converts a lump sum into a series of fixed payments for life or a set period, offering a guaranteed income stream. Annuity withdrawal allows you to take out funds periodically without a fixed schedule, risking the depletion of the account. Both methods access funds in an annuity.

What are annuity payout options?

Annuity payout options refer to the various ways in which an annuity can distribute income to the annuitant. Common options include a lump sum payment, fixed periodic payments for a set period, or lifetime annuity payments. These options allow individuals to choose a payout structure that best suits their financial needs and goals.

What is the highest annuity payout option?

The highest annuity payout option refers to the plan that provides the largest sum of money to the annuitant. This option typically offers a fixed monthly income for a specific period or for the rest of the annuitant’s life. It is crucial to compare different annuity plans and consider factors like interest rates, fees, and payout options to choose the most advantageous one.

How do annuities payout?

Annuities pay out by providing a guaranteed income stream for a specific period or for the rest of the recipient’s life. Payments can be made monthly, quarterly, annually, or in a lump sum. The amount paid out depends on factors like the initial investment, interest rates, and the length of the payout period.

Is when to take annuity payments an important decision?

When to take annuity payments is an important decision that depends on individual circumstances. In general, it is wise to consider factors such as age, financial needs, and long-term goals. Taking annuity payments earlier may provide immediate income while delaying can result in higher payouts. Consulting with a financial advisor can help determine the best timing for annuity payments.

What are the IRA annuity payout options?

IRA annuity payout options refer to the various ways individuals can receive payments from their individual retirement accounts. These options include a lump sum payment, annuitization, systematic withdrawals, or a combination of these methods. Choosing the right payout option depends on individual financial goals and circumstances.

Shawn Plummer

CEO, The Annuity Expert

Shawn Plummer is a licensed financial professional, 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

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