Annuities & Retirement

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Annuities &Amp; Retirement 2

A secure, comfortable retirement is every person’s dream. Since we’re living longer, healthier lives, we can expect to spend more time in retirement than our parents and grandparents did. Achieving the dream of a secure, comfortable retirement is much easier when you plan your finances accordingly.

An Overview of Annuities

Did you know that an annuity is a contract between you and an insurance company, under which you make a lump-sum payment or series of payments? In return, the insurer agrees to make periodic payments to you beginning immediately or at some future date. Annuities typically offer tax-deferred earning and may include a death benefit that will pay your beneficiary a guaranteed* minimum amount, such as your total purchase payments.

Unlike retirement plans, there is no limit to how much money you can put into an annuity! The number of annuity products on the market today can make selecting the most suitable annuity a confusing process.

Some facts to consider:

  • Timing of payout – immediate or deferred: In an immediate annuity, the annuitant (you) begins receiving payments immediately after purchase. This is for individuals who need immediate income from their annuity. In a deferred annuity, payments begin at some future date, usually at retirement.
  • Investments by Insurers – fixed or indexed: Insurance companies invest annuity assets in government securities and high-grade corporate bonds. They offer a guaranteed* rate, typically over a period of one to ten years. Indexed annuities provide you chance to earn a return that is based on changes in an equity index.
  • Liquidity options – An annuity may allow you to withdraw either your interest earnings or up to 15% per year without a penalty (although any withdrawal from an annuity may be subject to taxes and a 10% federal penalty if taken before age 59 1/2).

Types of annuities

  • Fixed annuity: The insurance company guarantees that you will earn a minimum rate of interest during the accumulation phase of the annuity. Plus, it guarantees that the periodic payments will be a set amount. These periodic payments may last for a definite period, such as 20 years, or an indefinite period, such as your lifetime or the lifetime of you and your spouse. Fixed annuities are not securities and are not regulated by the SEC.
  • Equity-indexed annuity is a “hybrid” type of annuity. During the accumulation period – when you make either a lump sum payment or a series of payments – the insurance company credits you with a return that is based on changes in an equity index, such as the S&P 500 Composite Stock Price Index. (An annuity’s index account does not credit the same return or a percentage of the return of any index. Dow Jones indices do not include the dividend income of the company stocks that comprise it.) The insurance company typically guarantees a minimum return. After the accumulation period, the insurance company will make periodic payments to you under the terms of your contract, unless you choose to receive a lump sum. Depending on the mix of features, an equity-indexed annuity may or may not be a security. The typical equity-indexed annuity is not registered with the SEC.

Before You Decide:

If you are considering purchasing an annuity call us to discuss the following:

  • The rating of the insurance company (indicating their financial strength) issuing the annuity, particularly in the case of a fixed annuity.
  • Understand the fees you will pay.
  • Understand that if you are considering a withdrawal from an annuity it may be subject to taxes and a 10% federal penalty if taken prior to 59 1/2 years of age

For additional information about annuities you can visit  (If you cannot access this information online, contact me to request a copy.)

* Annuity guarantees rely on the financial stability and claims paying ability of the issuing insurance company.

Social Security Retirement Planner can help you now

A good place to start thinking about planning for your retirement is with the Social Security Planner. Here you can find tools and guides to help you think through this phase of your life. It also points out things you may want to consider as you prepare for the future.

If you are:

Looking for information, you can:

Already near retirement age, you can:

Close to age 65, you can find out how to apply for just Medicare. You may need to sign up for Medicare close to your 65th birthday, even if you will not be retired by that time.

  • Some health insurance plans change automatically at age 65.
  • If you are getting Social Security benefits when you turn 65, your Medicare Hospital Benefits will start automatically.

With retirement around the corner now is the time to plan for your financial needs

Your Social Security benefits are the foundation on which you can build a secure retirement. The three major elements of your retirement portfolio are:

  • Benefits from pensions,
  • Savings and investments, and
  • Social Security benefits.

Most financial advisors say you’ll need about 70% of your pre-retirement earnings to comfortably maintain your pre-retirement standard of living. If you have average earnings, your Social Security retirement benefits will replace only about 40%. The percentage is lower for people in the upper income brackets and higher for people with low incomes. You’ll need to supplement your benefits with a pension, savings or investments.

To help you plan for retirement, the Social Security website includes a Retirement Estimator that lets you get a retirement benefit estimate based on current law and real time access to your earnings record. It also provides a Benefits Planner to help in the event of disability or loss of your family’s wage earner.

Factors that may affect your retirement benefits

Your benefit amount is based on your earnings averaged over most of your working career. Higher lifetime earnings result in higher benefits. If you have some years of no earnings or low earnings, your benefit amount may be lower than if you had worked steadily.

Your benefit amount also is affected by your age at the time you start receiving benefits. If you start your retirement benefits at age 62 (the earliest possible retirement age) your benefit will be lower than if you wait until your full retirement age. If you start your retirement benefits after full retirement age, the monthly benefit may be higher due to delayed retirement credits.

If you are self-employed

Self-employed people must report their earnings and pay the taxes directly to the IRS. You are self-employed if you operate a trade, business or profession, either by yourself or as a partner.

You report your earnings for Social Security when you file your federal income tax return. If your net earnings are $400 or more in a year, you must report your earnings on IRS Schedule SE for Social Security purposes, in addition to the other tax forms you must file.

If you work for a federal, state or local government

If you work for a federal, state or local government where you do not pay Social Security taxes, the pension you receive from that agency may reduce any Social Security benefits for which you are qualified. There are two factors that may reduce your benefits.

  • The first factor affects the way your Social Security retirement or disability benefits are figured. The Windfall Elimination Provision fact sheet provides answers to questions you may have about this provision.
  • The second factor affects Social Security benefits you receive as a spouse or widow/widower. The Government Pension Offset fact sheet provides answers to questions you may have about this provision.

You can get more information on the website for Federal, State & Local Government Employees.

If you work outside the United States

If you work outside the United States (U.S.) for an American company or, in some cases, an affiliate company of an American company, you and your employer may have to pay Social Security taxes on the same earnings to both the U.S. and the foreign country. But, if you work in one of the agreement countries shown in our fact sheet, How International Agreements Can Help You:

  • Your Social Security coverage will be assigned to either the U.S. or the foreign country, and
  • You and your employer don’t have to pay taxes to both countries.

You can get more information about work outside the U.S. on our International Programs website.

Prepare for your medical needs

Medicare is a health insurance plan for people who are 65 or older and people who are disabled or have permanent kidney failure. Medicare has three parts—hospital insurance, medical insurance and prescription drug coverage. Most people have all three parts.

  • Hospital insurance, sometimes called Part A, covers inpatient hospital care and certain follow-up care. You already paid for it as part of your Social Security taxes while you were working.
  • Medical insurance, sometimes called Part B, pays for physicians’ services and some other services not covered by hospital insurance. Medical insurance is optional, and you must pay monthly premiums.
  • Prescription drug coverage, sometimes called Part D, pays for prescription drugs. Prescription drug coverage is optional, and you must pay monthly premiums. However, you also may be able to get extra help paying the monthly premiums, annual deductible and prescription co-payments.
  • If you are already getting Social Security benefits when you turn 65, your Medicare (Part A) starts automatically. If you are not getting Social Security, you should sign up for Medicare close to your 65th birthday, even if you aren’t ready to retire.

If you are already receiving disability or survivors benefits when you apply for retirement

If you are receiving disability benefits when you reach full retirement age, nothing will change, except that your benefits will be called retirement benefits instead of disability benefits. If you are receiving survivor’s benefits and you also are eligible for your own higher retirement benefits, you can switch from survivors to retirement benefits as early as age 62 or as late as age 70. In many cases, widows/widowers begin receiving one benefit at a reduced rate and switch to the other benefit at an unreduced rate at full retirement age. However, if you switch, you will be paid only the higher of the two benefits, not both.

Commission disclosure: As an insurance agent, I may earn a commission from insurance companies when  a policy is sold. When you click on links and make a purchase, this can result in me earning a commission. Affiliate programs and affiliations include, but are not limited to, the eBay Partner Network, Walmart, Etsy, AliExpress and Amazon. As an Amazon Associate, I may earn commissions from qualifying purchases from Amazon. Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of, Inc, or its affiliates.