Annuitization, SPIAs and Guaranteed Lifetime Income Riders Compared

Annuitization, Single Premium Immediate Annuities (SPIA), and Guaranteed Lifetime Income Riders (GLIR) offer pathways to secure lifetime income. Annuitization assures a steady income stream but relinquishes control, whereas SPIAs offer instant income. Guaranteed Lifetime Income Riders provide both flexibility and assurance of income security.

Ken Orenstein, FRC
  • Written By
    Ken Orenstein, FRC

    Ken Orenstein, FRC

    Federal Retirement Advisor

    Ken Orenstein is a Federal Retirement Advisor and principal advisor for Brokerage Consulting. With expertise in investments, retirement planning, financial planning, Medicare, employee benefits and life insurance, Ken brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to his role. His educational background includes a Bachelor of Science in Management from Kean University. Ken is dedicated to providing personalized and informed advice to his clients, helping them make well-informed decisions to achieve their financial goals.

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  • Edited By
    Michael Santiago
    Headshot of Michael Santiago, senior editor for

    Michael Santiago

    Senior Financial Editor

    Michael Santiago is a skilled writer and editor with over a decade of experience in various industries. As a senior financial editor, he collaborates with a team of experts to develop compelling and accurate content.

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  • Updated: March 28, 2024
  • 2 min read time

Key Takeaways

  • Annuitization, Single Premium Immediate Annuities (SPIA) and Guaranteed Lifetime Income Riders (GLIR) provide avenues for guaranteed lifetime income.
  • Annuitization offers a guaranteed income stream but sacrifices control, while SPIAs provide immediate income. Guaranteed Lifetime Income Riders offer flexibility while ensuring income security.
  • Annuities offer solutions for longevity risk and healthcare costs, addressing key concerns for retirees.

Methods of Obtaining Guaranteed Lifetime Income With Annuities

There are three different methods, utilizing annuities, to obtain guaranteed lifetime single or joint income, as well as one method for leveraging annuities to double one’s income due to impairment.


Most annuities contain an annuitization benefit. When an annuity contract holder elects annuitization, they convert the value of their annuity into a guaranteed lifetime income stream. Once annuitization is elected, the contract holder cannot change their mind and has surrendered any future control of their asset in exchange for guaranteed lifetime income. In my professional opinion, this is the most restrictive method of income planning.

Single Premium Immediate Annuity (SPIA)

A Single Premium Annuity, or SPIA, is an annuity entirely based on the annuitization principle. With this annuity, income is typically activated one month after funding.

Guaranteed Lifetime Income Rider (GLIR)

The most modern and flexible method of securing guaranteed lifetime income, while still maintaining control of the owner’s annuity asset, is by obtaining an annuity with a built-in guaranteed lifetime income rider.

In this type of annuity, the contract holder maintains the choice of when to activate either single or joint life guaranteed lifetime income. They can also opt to suspend income in the future or revert back to their principal account and transfer the annuity balance to another asset, usually after any applicable surrender periods.

Additionally, there are lifetime guaranteed income riders that include impairment doublers, operating similarly to traditional long-term care insurance benefits, with comparable triggers for eligibility.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the main difference between annuitization, SPIA and Guaranteed Lifetime Income Riders?

Each method offers distinct approaches to securing guaranteed lifetime income with annuities, with varying levels of flexibility and control over assets.

How do Guaranteed Lifetime Income Riders differ from traditional annuitization?

Guaranteed Lifetime Income Riders provide a more flexible approach, allowing annuity holders to maintain control over their assets while still ensuring a steady income stream.

What factors should I consider when choosing between these methods for guaranteed lifetime income?

Considerations include your preferences for flexibility versus control, immediate versus deferred income and your overall retirement and financial goals.

The author drew upon personal experience in basic budgeting, income and retirement planning to craft this article, omitting formal references or footnotes.

Please seek the advice of a qualified professional before making financial decisions.
Last Modified: March 28, 2024