Maintaining your lifestyle and managing medical costs while depending solely on Social Security benefits and other savings during retirement can be a challenge. Planning ahead by purchasing an annuity that provides periodic payments to cover some of those costs could provide you with a buffer during the golden years.
Insurance companies issue annuities, but they also are sold by independent brokers, annuity distributors, mutual fund companies, large banks, financial advisors and other independent financial agents.
Social Security and pensions often fall short of covering all expenses during retirement. Seniors can supplement their income with annuities in order to manage increased medical costs, living expenses and maintaining their lifestyle. Additionally, certain annuities have guarantees which prevent seniors from outliving their income, and provide a death benefit for the beneficiary.
Seniors make up a significant portion of the annuity owning and purchasing population. Around half of annuity owners purchased their annuity between the ages of 50 and 64. About 14 percent of annuity purchasers are age 65 or older, according to the 2013 Gallup Survey of Individual Annuity Contracts.The same survey found that 65 percent of annuity owners are retired.
Determining if an annuity is the right choice for you will require evaluating factors like your age, health care needs, current assets and any retirement plans you may already have. Unlike a 401(k) and IRA, an annuity allows unlimited annual contributions. Seniors can also use annuity payments for premiums on long-term care insurance without paying income tax on those withdrawals.
When purchasing an annuity, it is vital that you understand all details of the contract, especially any fees or surrender charges that may be associated with the annuity you buy. Consider the overall value of the annuity in relation to the portfolio you already have, and make sure that you have access to the cash you need for immediate expenses or emergencies.
Beware of agents who continually pressure you to buy an annuity, offer a limited time only deal and do not disclose all fees. Remember that an annuity is only as strong as the insurance company that issues it. Examine each insurance company’s rating through an agency such as Standard & Poor’s, A.M. Best Company or Moody’s Investors Services.
What happens to the money in your annuity if you die? You can pay a small annual fee on your deferred annuity that ensures your beneficiaries continue receiving payments when you die. The death benefit works differently from one type of annuity to another.
These annuities will not only provide a steady stream of income during retirement for as long as you live, but they also include a cash refund option that returns any remaining premium to your beneficiaries.