What Is A Deferred Annuity? How Do They Work? The Pros and Cons

Shawn Plummer

CEO, The Annuity Expert

In today’s fast-paced world, financial planning for retirement can often seem like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Amidst many investment options, deferred annuities stand out as a viable choice for many. But what is a deferred annuity? This comprehensive guide will help decode the deferred annuity definition, its various facets, and why it might be the golden ticket to your financial security during retirement.

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Demystifying Deferred Annuities: A Definition

At its core, a deferred annuity is a contract between an investor and an insurance company. The investor agrees to make a single lump-sum payment or a series of payments. In return, the insurance company commits to making periodic payments to the investor at a future date. This future date is usually post-retirement, making it an appealing option for those looking for a steady income stream in their golden years.

 Deferred Annuity Definition

Deferred Annuity At A Glance

Fixed Index
Principal ProtectionNoYesYesYesYes
Access To PrincipalYesYesYesNoNo
Control Over MoneyYesYesYesNoNo
Tax-Deferred GrowthYesYesYesNoNo
Guaranteed GrowthNoYesYesNoNo
Guaranteed IncomeYesYesYesYesYes
Inflation ProtectionYesYesNoYesYes
Death BenefitYesYesYesYes/NoYes/No
Long-Term Care HelpYesYesYesNoNo

Deferred Annuity Contracts: The Basic Mechanics

The critical distinction of deferred annuities lies in their unique two-phase structure:

  • Accumulation Phase: This is when the investor makes payments into the annuity. These contributions grow on a tax-deferred basis, meaning the earnings aren’t taxed until they are withdrawn.
  • Annuitization Phase: This phase kicks in when the investor chooses to start receiving payments from the annuity, usually upon retirement. The frequency of these payments can range from monthly to annually, depending on the specific contract.

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The Deferred Annuity Formula

Calculating your deferred annuity returns involves a simple formula: FV = P * (1 + r/n)^(nt). Here, FV is the future value of your annuity, P is the principal amount, r is the annual interest rate, and n is the number of times that interest is compounded per year. T is the number of years the money is invested for.

Immediate vs. Deferred Annuities: The Core Differences

When discussing annuities, it’s crucial to highlight the main difference between immediate and deferred annuities. Immediate annuities begin paying out almost instantly after the premium payment, typically within a year. On the other hand, deferred annuities accrue interest over the accumulation phase before the payout phase begins, usually years later.

What Is A Deferred Annuity?

Deferred Annuity: An Illustrative Example

Let’s delve into an illustrative example to understand deferred annuities better. Suppose at age 50, Jane invests $200,000 into a deferred annuity with a guaranteed annual interest rate of 3%. If Jane decides to annuitize her contract at age 65, she would have accumulated approximately $283,474. From age 65 onwards, she will start receiving regular payments, the amount of which depends on her lifespan, the contract terms, and the accumulated amount.

What Are Deferred Annuities?

Why Would a Deferred Annuity Be Preferred as a Retirement Investment?

Deferred annuities often emerge as a preferred choice for retirement investments due to their unique advantages:

  • Tax-Deferred Growth: The interest earned on your annuity isn’t taxed until withdrawn, allowing your investment to grow more rapidly over time.
  • Guaranteed Income: Deferred annuities provide a guaranteed income stream during retirement, irrespective of market conditions, offering financial security.
  • Flexibility: The payment structure allows you to tailor it to your financial goals and risk tolerance.

Next Steps

In conclusion, understanding the definition of a deferred annuity and its features is crucial for any investor planning for a secure retirement. Deferred annuities could be a viable option for those looking for guaranteed, lifelong income post-retirement. However, consulting with a financial advisor to evaluate if this investment aligns with your financial goals and circumstances is always advisable. Your retirement is a time to relax and enjoy life. With proper financial planning, you can ensure it is just that.

 Deferred Annuities

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is a deferred annuity?

A deferred annuity is an investment vehicle that allows you to save for retirement. You make contributions to the annuity, which grows tax-deferred. You can withdraw a lump sum or receive income payments when you reach retirement age. There are two types of deferred annuities: fixed and variable.

What is the main difference between immediate and deferred annuities?

An immediate annuity pays benefits immediately, while a deferred annuity pays benefits at some point in the future. The main difference between the two is when you start receiving payments. Another difference between the two is how they grow. An immediate annuity doesn’t grow, while a deferred annuity does. This growth is tax-deferred, meaning you don’t pay taxes until you withdraw the money.

How are deferred annuities calculated?

The formula for calculating a deferred annuity is future value = present value × (1 + interest rate)^number of periods. For example, if you have $10,000 in a deferred annuity that pays 5% interest and you plan to leave it invested for ten years, the future value of the annuity would be: $10,000 × (1 + 0.05)^10 = $16,105.05

Who needs a deferred annuity?

Deferred annuities are often used by people who are saving for retirement. The tax-deferred growth can make them an excellent way to grow your nest egg. And, since you don’t start receiving payments until later, you don’t have to worry about the effects of inflation on your purchasing power. Deferred annuities can also be an excellent way to create an income stream in retirement since you can choose to start receiving payments when you expect your other sources of income (such as Social Security) to start declining.

Can you lose money with a deferred annuity?

Yes, you can lose money with a deferred annuity if the interest rate on the annuity is lower than the inflation rate. This is because the purchasing power of your money will decline if it’s not keeping up with inflation. Also, if you withdraw money from a deferred annuity before age 59½, you may have to pay a 10% early withdrawal penalty. And, of course, you could lose money if the company that issues the annuity goes out of business. That’s why it’s important to research an insurer before buying an annuity. You can check an insurer’s financial strength rating at A.M. Best and Moody’s websites.

When should I buy a deferred annuity?

The best time to buy a deferred annuity is when you have the money you won’t need for at least seven years. This will give the annuity time to grow and compound without the risk of having to withdraw the money early. Also, remember that you may want to start taking Social Security benefits at age 62. It could reduce your Social Security benefits if you start receiving payments from a deferred annuity before that. So, you may consider waiting until age 62 to start taking payments from a deferred annuity.

How soon can benefit payments begin with a deferred annuity?

With a deferred annuity, you can choose when you want payments to begin. The most common choice is at retirement, but you can also choose to start receiving payments before or after retirement in as little as 30 days. If you start taking payments before age 59½, you may have to pay a 10% early withdrawal penalty.

What are the basic types of deferred annuities?

There are two basic types of deferred annuities: fixed and variable. With a fixed deferred annuity, the interest rate is guaranteed for a set period, usually 2 to 10 years. After that, the interest rate may change but never be lower than the guaranteed minimum rate. With a variable deferred annuity, the interest rate and your payments can go up or down depending on how the investments in the annuity perform.

How many phases does a deferred annuity have?

A deferred annuity has two phases: the accumulation and payout phases. You contribute to the annuity during accumulation, and the money grows tax-deferred. During the payout phase, you begin taking distributions from the annuity and pay taxes on the money as you withdraw it.

Can I cash out a deferred annuity?

Yes, you can cash out a deferred annuity, but you may have to pay a surrender fee and income taxes on the money. Also, if you withdraw money from a deferred annuity before age 59½, you may have to pay a 10% early withdrawal penalty.

Are fixed deferred annuities safe?

Yes, fixed deferred annuities are safe because the interest rate is guaranteed for a set period. However, the interest rate may change after the guarantee period ends, so some risk is involved.

What is an FPDA annuity?

An FPDA annuity is a flexible premium deferred annuity. This type of annuity allows the policyholder to make additional premium payments on an as-needed basis, up to a specific limit.

What is an SPDA annuity?

A single premium deferred annuity, or SPDA, is a type of investment that can provide financial security in retirement. With an SPDA, you make a one-time payment into the annuity, which is then invested before it pays out.

What is the difference between an income annuity and a deferred annuity?

An income annuity provides regular payments immediately after purchase, offering a steady income stream. Deferred annuity accumulates savings over time with tax-deferred growth, and payments begin at a later date chosen by the investor. The main difference is the payout start time, with income annuity starting immediately and deferred annuity starting later, allowing for potentially higher payouts due to investment growth during the deferral period.

Shawn Plummer

CEO, The Annuity Expert

I’m a licensed financial professional focusing on annuities and insurance for more than a decade. My former role was training financial advisors, including for a Fortune Global 500 insurance company. I’ve been featured in Time Magazine, Yahoo! Finance, MSN, SmartAsset, Entrepreneur, Bloomberg, The Simple Dollar, U.S. News and World Report, and Women’s Health Magazine.

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

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