Annuities: Understanding How They Pay Out

Annuities have gained popularity as retirement income solutions, but what exactly are they and are they right for you? Here are the fundamentals of annuities, including their types, payout options, tax implications, benefits, and drawbacks.

What are annuities?

Annuities are financial products offered by insurance companies. They involve a contract between an individual and an insurance company, typically with the goal of accumulating funds for retirement. During the accumulation phase, the funds within the annuity grow on a tax-deferred basis. When the individual reaches the payout phase, regular income payments begin.

Types of annuities

There are different types of annuities, each with its own payout structure.

  • Fixed Annuities: Guarantee a fixed rate of return over a specified period, irrespective of market fluctuations.
  • Variable Annuities: Allow investment allocation among various options, with payout amounts tied to underlying investment performance.
  • Indexed Annuities: Offer returns linked to specific market indexes, with a minimum guaranteed payout.
  • Immediate Annuities: Involve a lump-sum payment and immediate income payments, based on predetermined amounts and durations.

Payout Options

Annuities offer different payout options to suit individual needs.

  • Life Only: Payments for the person’s lifetime, end with death with no benefits for beneficiaries.
  • Life with Period Certain: Payments for the person’s lifetime, with a minimum period guarantee. If the person dies before the minimum period ends, payments continue to the designated beneficiary.
  • Joint and Survivor: Payments continue to the surviving spouse or beneficiary after the person’s death, ensuring income for both lives.
  • Lump Sum: Allows for a one-time payment instead of regular payouts, suitable for specific financial needs.

Taxes and Annuities

Annuity payouts have tax implications based on the annuity type, payment structure, and funding source. Annuity payments are usually subject to income tax, but a portion of each payment may be considered a return of principal and not taxable.

Benefits vs. Drawbacks

Annuities have both advantages and disadvantages. It’s important to weigh and understand both before deciding.

Benefits of Annuities:

  • Guaranteed Income: Provide a predictable income stream for retirement.
  • Tax-Deferred Growth: Earnings grow on a tax-deferred basis, potentially allowing for faster accumulation compared to taxable accounts.
  • Protection Against Longevity Risk: Ensure income for life or a specified period, guarding against outliving savings.
  • Death Benefits: Many annuities include provisions for beneficiaries to receive a portion of the annuity’s value upon the person’s death.

Drawbacks of Annuities:

  • Lack of Flexibility: Limited access to funds before the payout period ends, reducing liquidity.
  • Fees and Expenses: Various charges, including administrative fees and surrender charges, can reduce overall annuity value.
  • Complex Terms and Conditions: Annuity contracts can be intricate, requiring careful understanding of guarantees, interest rates, and provisions.
  • Limited Growth Potential: Fixed annuities may have restricted growth compared to other investments, impacting long-term purchasing power.

Understanding how annuities pay out is essential for making informed financial decisions. Whether you choose a fixed, variable, indexed, or immediate annuity, it’s crucial to consider your financial goals, risk tolerance, and lifestyle needs. Additionally, carefully review the payout options available. Consult a financial advisor to help you make informed decisions based on your unique financial goals and circumstances.

Navy Mutual

If you have questions or want to learn more about creating an annuity for your family, head to Navy Mutual to talk to an agent. Remember that your choices today can create ease in the future, both for you and your loved ones. An annuity is simply one tool you can use to do just that. 

This article is sponsored by Navy Mutual. Protect your family and your future. Navy Mutual provides affordable life insurance and annuities to those who have answered our nation’s call. If you are active duty, in the reserve or guard, or retired from any branch of the United States military or uniformed services, we’d be honored to serve you. Click here for a quote from Navy Mutual today!

Author – Brandy Hall, Nurse Writer, turned a passion for patient teaching into content writing. By creating easy-to-understand patient education content, she helps people understand their health without complex terms and jargon. She is published on, Healthnews, and more.