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Financially Reviewed By : Rubina K. Hossain, CFP®
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Timing is a big factor in choosing when to tap into your annuity money. Depending on when you purchased it, it might make sense to withdraw funds from your annuity, assuming your contract allows this. If you purchased your annuity recently, selling future payments may be a wiser choice.

Unlike people who bought annuities as part of a financial or retirement plan, structured settlement recipients are not allowed to withdraw money early. But you still have options, including selling future payments.

Or, if you haven’t yet received your settlement money, you may qualify for a type of cash advance to cover expenses while you wait.

Getting Cash Now From My Annuity

Annuities provide a reliable stream of cash over a period of time. But your financial needs can change in an instant and may cause you to reevaluate your annuity. This is especially true in cases of medical or financial emergencies and new business opportunities.

Early withdrawals usually come with expensive tax implications and surrender fees. Penalties tend to decrease over time, so if you wait several years, you may face lower fees.

But what if you can’t afford to wait because you need cash now?

You may get more money by selling payments on the secondary market instead of making withdrawals from your annuity account. Selling payments can provide flexibility and immediate access to a large sum of cash that you can invest in other financial vehicles or use to pay off long-term debt.

Common Reasons for Selling an Annuity
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Reasons for selling an annuity include:

  • Job loss
  • Medical emergency
  • Lifestyle change
  • Annuity inheritance

What is the Process for Cashing In My Annuity?

Rather than waiting years to receive their payments, some people choose to sell their long-term income products.

There’s a short but set process for doing this:
Research Annuity Purchasers
Start by shopping around for the right annuity buyer. Beware of unethical practices and fraud. Trustworthy annuity purchasers will have positive reviews, offer free quotes and avoid high-pressure sales tactics.
Get a Quote
Your quote should have a low discount rate so you get to keep as much of your money as possible. The average discount rate is 12 percent. The current value of your annuity depends on certain factors, such as the size and frequency of your payments.
Submit Your Paperwork
Once you receive a quote, you must complete paperwork to allow buyers to access your annuity contract. You’ll need to provide identification, tax forms and other documentation requested by the purchaser or insurance company.
For Structured Settlements, Present Your Case Before a Judge
If you’re selling a structured settlement, there is one more step. A brief hearing to obtain court approval of your transfer must take place. Federal and state laws have this safeguard in place to ensure all the details of your transaction are fully disclosed and to make sure the sale is in your best interests.

Once the sale is approved, you will receive a lump sum of cash from your structured settlement.

How Long Does It Take To Cash Out an Annuity?

Annuity owners can receive their cash within an average of four weeks. This time frame depends on the annuity type, the insurance company and the purchasing company.

A structured settlement sale can take longer due to the required court approval step, which can take between 45 to 90 days.

Pro TIP
Make sure you practice due diligence to avoid becoming the victim of an unethical company that preys on uninformed sellers. You can find annuity purchasers through insurance agents and annuity brokers who connect buyers and sellers.

You Can Get Cash Today Without Giving Up All Future Payments

When it comes to selling your annuity, you have options. You can sell the whole thing, or you can sell the right to some of your future payments.

Selling a portion of your annuity is generally done by either forfeiting payments for a set time period, say one to three years, or selling a specific dollar amount for a lump sum.

Partial Sale vs. Lump Sum Sale
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Partial Sale

A partial annuity sale allows you to sell a period of your annuity payments for a lump sum of cash. For example, you can sell the first three years of your annuity payments in exchange for the money you want for a down payment on a new home.

Throughout that time span, your payments will stop. Once three years have passed, you will begin receiving regular payments.

You may also elect to sell a portion of your annuity payments. For example, if your payments are $1,000 a month, you may sell half or $500 a month, and continue to receive the rest of the payments.

Lump-Sum Sale

A lump-sum sale allows you to sell a specific dollar amount of your structured settlement or annuity — $10,000, for example — instead of a certain number of payments that might not total the exact amount you need.

For the partial and lump-sum options, the annuity retains a cash value. If, at a later date, you encounter another circumstance where you cannot wait for scheduled payments, you can contact the funding company to sell additional payments. These flexible selling options allow you to tailor the transaction to your needs, taking only what you need.

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INTERESTED IN SELLING SOME OR ALL OF YOUR PAYMENTS?
Turn your future payments into cash you can use right now. Get started with a free estimate and see what your payments are worth today!

Why You’re Not Receiving the Full Value for Your Annuity

When someone purchases your future payments, it’s not a dollar-for-dollar exchange. Why is that? Because the overall value of your contract — say $100,000 — is only worth that amount over a long period of time. This can be explained by a concept called the time value of money, which states that a dollar in hand now is worth more than a dollar in hand later due to its interest-earning potential.

Factoring companies use discount rates to account for this discrepancy in value and make a small profit for giving you cash upfront. For example, if you wanted to sell annuity payments worth $10,000, and the factoring company has a 10 percent discount rate, you would receive $9,000 in cash.

Factoring companies calculate the discount using fluctuating variables that include:

  • Demand for their services
  • Interest rates
  • Inflation
  • Time investment

When Annuities and Structured Settlements Can’t Be Cashed In

Some annuities don’t qualify for sale. These include annuities in tax-qualified retirement plans and straight-life annuities, which stop paying out at the annuitant’s death. These cannot be sold because the number of payments is not guaranteed.

Frequently Asked Questions About Cashing Out Annuities

How long does it take to cash out an annuity?
If your annuity funds a structured settlement, the cash-out and court approval process may take 45 to 90 days. For all other annuities, the withdrawal process can span roughly four weeks, depending on the quickness of the insurance company and buyer.
When can you withdraw from an annuity without penalty?

In most cases, you must meet specific criteria to avoid withdrawal penalties:

  • First, after you reach 59 ½ years old, you would no longer have the IRS-issued penalty for withdrawals.
  • Secondly, check to see if your contract allows for an early withdrawal without penalty during the surrender period. If not, then you would have to withdraw after your surrender period ends — which is outlined in your contract by the insurance company — to avoid their fees.

Structured settlement payouts are subject to a discount rate or an administrative charge imposed by the purchasing company.

Can all annuities be cashed out?
Yes, however, different annuity types have varying rules and limitations. For example, structured settlement sales require court approval, and state and federal regulations often govern pensions funded by annuities. Speak to your insurance company or financial advisor for cash-out options for your specific annuity.
When do you have to withdraw from an annuity?

The IRS mandates that annuitants begin receiving a minimum annual withdrawal amount for qualified annuities on the date they turn 70 ½, or 72 if you reach 70 ½ after Dec. 31, 2019.

However, there are reasons to sell your annuity sooner than required, such as:

  • Making a major life purchase
  • Paying off credit-card debt
  • Paying off medical bills
  • Financing a college education or paying student loans
  • Funding a divorce
  • Paying for a funeral
Please seek the advice of a qualified professional before making financial decisions.
Last Modified: June 18, 2021

2 Cited Research Articles

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  1. Avraham, R. and Sebok, A.J. (2018, April 10). An Empirical Investigation of Third Party Consumer Litigation Funding. Retrieved from https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3137247
  2. Fisher, D. (2018, March 19). Study on consumer lawsuit loans finds high rates, confusing terms. Retrieved from https://legalnewsline.com/stories/511365351-study-on-consumer-lawsuit-loans-finds-high-rates-confusing-terms