“You can’t always get what you want; but if you try, sometimes, well you just might find you get what you need.”

You probably never imagined the Annuity Guys would be quoting lyrics from the Rolling Stones, but somehow this line was the perfect description of the findings from a TIAA-CREF study on lifetime income. The TIAA-CREF study found that eighty-four percent of respondents claim that receiving a **guaranteed monthly paycheck during retirement is important to them; but only fourteen percent have purchased an annuity. We don’t know from the study whether or not they asked respondents if they were receiving enough income from another **guaranteed source, such as Social Security or a lifetime income pension. However, just from our discussions with website visitors, we can validate the high level of folks looking to create a **guaranteed lifetime income stream.

Many times people decide not to buy an annuity due to either a misunderstanding of the annuity or a miss-characterization assuming that all types of annuities are similar. We know that the internet is a wealth of knowledge about annuities and how they work, but we also see a significant emphasis on the most highly criticized aspects of one type of annuity misapplied to all types of annuities. Unfortunately, the emphasis on the negative aspects tends to stick in peoples minds causing some to avoid a discussion about the pros and cons of any particular type of annuity.

It is noteworthy that one group of Americans buying annuities are the very wealthy. The top 1 percent of wealthiest Americans, those annually earning over $380,000 are more likely to own annuities. Why would wealthy individuals who would seemingly not need an annuity that provides a **guaranteed income flock to them? It seems they value annuities for what they provide – safe income, safe growth, tax deferral, creditor protection, and the ability to avoid probate as an asset class that is non-correlated to the stock market.

So, it seems that if you know what you need you might just get what you want!

Annuities a Puzzle to Most Boomers

By Casey Dowd

Earlier this month TIAA-CREF released their second annual “Lifetime Income” study which revealed that many Americans are generally interested in a **guaranteed monthly income stream but are unfamiliar with annuities which could support their lifetime income options. “For many Americans, annuities are often unknown or misunderstood, which is unfortunate since they are the only way to generate retirement income that cannot be outlived,” said Ed Van Dolsen, president, Retirement, and Individual Financial Services at TIAA-CREF. 84 percent of the respondents claim that receiving a monthly paycheck during retirement is important to them, yet only 14 percent of Americans have purchased an annuity.

Sean Wilson, a Wealth Management Adviser at TIAA-CREF discussed annuities with me and how they can help retirees to achieve their lifetime income goals. Here is what Sean had to offer:

Boomer: What are the different types of annuities?

Wilson: When you invest in an annuity you can choose to allocate your money in:

Guaranteed investments. Your investment dollars will accumulate at a **guaranteed interest rate. If you’re not comfortable with market volatility and its potential to impact your savings or income, this could be the choice for you.
Variable investments. Your investment will accumulate based on the performance of the variable funds you select. If you would like the potential for higher returns on your investment and are comfortable with risk, you may consider this choice. Of course, there are risks associated with investing in variable products, including loss of principal.
In fixed or **guaranteed annuities, the funds are invested in the insurance company’s general account, which typically contains fixed-income securities, such as bonds. The issuer, not the contract owner, assumes all investment risk. Fixed annuities offer a **guaranteed payment, with the payout amount based on the assumed future returns of the investments and the annuitant’s life expectancy. The payment can be fixed for life or can allow for future increases.

Variable annuities provide the contract owner with the ability to invest in both fixed-income and stock-based accounts whose values change depending on the performance of these underlying investments. While variable annuities# offer the potential for higher long-term returns than fixed annuities, generally their payouts will fluctuate (sometimes dramatically) from year to year. Unlike with a fixed annuity, the contract owner of a variable annuity#assumes all investment risk.

When planning your financial future, one of your biggest concerns is “longevity risk,” or the risk of being unable to fund your retirement if you live much longer than expected. Consider a product that offers one of the best ways to finance a long-life expectancy — the life annuity.

While variable annuities# are often criticized for having high fees (a criticism of some fixed annuities as well), being difficult to understand and lacking flexibility on receiving income in retirement, life annuities offer one advantage that other investment options do not — a **guaranteed stream of income that will last as long as you live. (Note that these **guarantees are based upon the issuing company’s claims-paying ability.)

A variable annuity# that provides a range of investment options among various asset classes has relatively low costs and includes product features that are well-suited to your needs can play an important role in helping you fund your retirement.

Boomer: What investment and payout options do annuities have? [Read More at FoxBusiness]