Deferred Income Annuity: The Personal Pension Plan

Shawn Plummer

CEO, The Annuity Expert

The world of finance is brimming with concepts that, although seemingly complex, can be broken down and understood with the proper guidance. One such concept is that of ‘deferred income annuities.’ In this post, we’ll dissect this term, exploring what it is, its pros and cons, and how to choose the right one for you. So, whether you’re a seasoned investor or a novice dipping your toes in financial waters, this guide promises to be enlightening.

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What is a Deferred Income Annuity (DIA)?

Often referred to as longevity insurance, a deferred income annuity, or DIA, is a contract between you and an insurance company. You make a lump sum payment or a series of payments to the company, and in exchange, they promise to provide you with a steady income stream at a future date. This payout, also known as annuitization, typically begins several years after the initial investment and continues for the rest of your life.

Example: Consider John, a 60-year-old who’s planning for retirement. He invests $100,000 in a DIA that will start paying him when he turns 70. Upon reaching 70, he begins receiving a fixed monthly income from the annuity for the rest of his life, providing him financial security in his retirement years.

Deferred Income Annuity Pros And Cons

The Art of Choosing a Deferred Income Annuity

Selecting a DIA is not a decision to be taken lightly. It requires a careful analysis of several critical factors, including:

  • Financial Strength of the Insurer: Choose a company with a solid financial standing. This will ensure they can fulfill their commitment to paying the annuity even after several years.
  • Payout Rates: Compare the payout rates of different providers. This will influence the amount of income you will receive upon annuitization.
  • Flexibility: Some DIAs offer flexibility in changing the income start date or providing a death benefit to your heirs. Look for such features when comparing deferred income annuities.

Example: Let’s go back to John. When he chose his DIA, he carefully considered the insurer’s financial strength, checking the ratings from agencies like AM Best and Standard & Poor’s. He compared payout rates from various providers and found the most competitive one. He also considered the flexibility features and chose an annuity that allows him to change the start date if needed.

Deferred Income Annuity

Benefits and Drawbacks of Deferred Income Annuities

Like any financial product, DIAs come with their pros and cons.


  • Guaranteed Lifetime Income: With a DIA, you’re guaranteed an income for the rest of your life, making it a reliable safety net for your retirement years.
  • Protection from Market Volatility: Since your income is predetermined and not influenced by market fluctuations, DIAs can offer peace of mind.
  • Potentially Higher Payouts: Compared to immediate annuities, DIAs usually provide higher income due to the deferral period.


  • Liquidity Issues: Once you invest in a DIA, you generally can’t withdraw the funds until the income payments begin, which might be several years later.
  • Inflation Risk: Your income might not keep up with inflation, reducing purchasing power over time.
  • Lack of Return if you Die Early: If you pass away before the income payments start, your investment might be lost unless you have chosen a DIA with a death benefit.

Example: John enjoys a guaranteed income in his retirement, protecting him from market volatility. However, if there’s an unexpected financial emergency before he turns 70, he can’t access the funds he invested in the DIA. Moreover, the fixed income he receives might not keep up with inflation over the years.

Deferred Income Annuity Pros and Cons

Income RidersDeferred Income Annuity
Guaranteed income for lifeGuaranteed income for life or fixed period
Flexibility to start/stop income streamTax-favored withdrawals on nonqualified annuities
Potential paycheck increases for inflation.No additional fees
Costs range from no cost to 1.25% annuallyIrrevocable payments; No refunds
Potential to earn interestCan be surrendered before receiving income
Future income guaranteed todayCan not be surrendered after receiving income
Can be surrendered or cashed inEarns approximately 1% interest annually
Lump-Sum Death BenefitNo liquidity
Help with long-term care costsNo death benefit or series of payments
Standard liquidityCan not help healthcare costs

Comparing DIAs with Other Annuity Products

Deferred income annuities are often compared to those with guaranteed lifetime income riders. While both offer a guaranteed income, the latter provides more flexibility in accessing your funds. However, this comes at a higher cost, making DIAs more cost-effective for those seeking a simple, guaranteed-income solution.

Example: John’s friend, Emily, opted for a deferred annuity with a guaranteed lifetime income rider instead of a DIA. She liked the flexibility of withdrawing her funds if necessary, even though it came with higher fees.

Deferred Income Annuities

When do you Pay Income Tax on a DIA?

The income from a DIA is taxed as ordinary income. However, you only pay taxes when you start receiving the income payments, not when you make the initial investment.

Example: When John starts receiving his income payments at 70, he pays income tax on them as ordinary income. However, he did not pay any taxes when he invested at 60.

Delving Deeper into Deferred Income Annuities

Having addressed some of the fundamentals of deferred income annuities, we must delve deeper, shedding more light on specifics and expanding our knowledge scope. This in-depth exploration can provide us with a better understanding of this financial tool and how to leverage it best.

Deferred Income Annuities: Comparisons and Contrasts

As we mentioned earlier, choosing the suitable DIA requires a comparative analysis. Several tools exist online to help with this, but a few key elements to focus on include:

  • Payout Structure: Different annuities offer different payout structures, from fixed payments to increasing payments designed to offset inflation.
  • Fees: Each annuity comes with its fees. Make sure you understand these costs and factor them into your decision.
  • Contractual Guarantees: Check the contract’s guarantees, such as death benefits or inflation protection.

When you compare deferred income annuities, it’s essential to consider these elements in addition to the key factors we discussed earlier.

How Do Deferred Income Annuities Compare?

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

Guaranteed-Income Deferred Annuities: A Reliable Option

Guaranteed-income deferred annuities are a type of DIA where the insurer guarantees a certain income level, typically for the rest of your life. These are particularly attractive to individuals seeking stability and predictability in their retirement income.

Example: John’s cousin, Lisa, decided to invest in a guaranteed-income deferred annuity. She felt secure knowing she’d have a guaranteed income level when she retires, regardless of what happens to the stock market.

What Is A Deferred Income Annuity

Revisiting the Key Question: Are DIAs a Good Idea?

Dias can be a good idea for specific individuals, particularly those who are risk-averse and want a guaranteed income in retirement. However, they’re not for everyone. Other investment options might better suit you if you value liquidity, flexibility, and the potential for high returns more than guaranteed income.

In the final analysis, whether a DIA is a good idea depends on your financial goals, risk tolerance, and retirement plans. It’s recommended to consult with a financial advisor to discuss your specific situation and make the most informed decision.

Example: In John’s case, a DIA was a good idea because it gave him the financial stability he desired for retirement. However, a DIA was not the best choice for his sister, Anne, who wanted more flexibility and the potential for higher returns.

Next Steps

In conclusion, deferred income annuities are a financial tool designed to provide a stable, reliable income stream in the future. They offer several benefits, such as protection from market volatility and guaranteed income. However, they also have potential downsides like liquidity issues and inflation risk.

What Are Deferred Income Annuities

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Frequently Asked Questions

Are deferred income annuities a good idea?

Deferred income annuities can be a good idea for individuals seeking a guaranteed income stream in the future. They provide a way to ensure a stable income during retirement.

What are the disadvantages of a deferred annuity?

While deferred annuities have benefits, they also come with potential disadvantages. Some drawbacks include limited access to funds during the deferral period, potential surrender charges for early withdrawals, and the possibility of lower returns compared to other investment options. Additionally, annuities can be complex and involve fees and expenses that should be carefully considered.

At what age do you have to pay income on a deferred income annuity?

The age at which you must pay income tax on a deferred income annuity depends on when you start receiving payments. Generally, once you begin receiving income from the annuity, it becomes taxable as ordinary income. The specific age can vary based on the annuity contract terms and local tax laws.

What is a deferred income annuity?

A deferred income annuity is a type of annuity contract where an individual pays a premium to an insurance company, and in return, they receive guaranteed future income payments. However, the payments are deferred until a predetermined date, typically during retirement. This allows individuals to secure a reliable income stream later in life, offering financial security and protection against longevity risk.

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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