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FinanceLongevity annuities can be a good deal for seniors. But not many...

Longevity annuities can be a good deal for seniors. But not many people buy them

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American life expectancy is trending up — and that creates extra monetary danger for retirees, who should make their nest eggs final a longer time.

An common 65-year-old in the present day will stay one other 20 years, about six years greater than in 1950, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Seniors can take measures to cut back this “longevity risk,” resembling working longer and delaying Social Security.

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They even have a kind of annuity at their disposal — a longevity annuity — that’s among the many finest monetary offers for seniors who fear their cash will not final, in line with retirement consultants. However, they have been little used so far.

“It’s contingent on living a long time,” stated Wade Pfau, a professor of retirement earnings at The American College of Financial Services. “If you live a long time, you’ll get the most bang for your buck that way.”

How they work

A long life annuity is like a type of old-age insurance coverage. There are many differing types, however such annuities are a type of “deferred income annuity.”

Here’s the fundamental premise: A retiree arms over a chunk of cash to an insurance coverage firm in the present day and begins getting month-to-month funds many years later, typically beginning between age 75 and 85.

As with different annuities, that stream of earnings is assured to final for the remainder of your life.

But the deferred funds supply a distinctive profit: Insurers pay extra on a month-to-month foundation than with different annuities that begin earlier in life. (Morbidly, it is because there’s a better likelihood that patrons will die earlier than their earnings begins — thereby spreading the pot of cash over fewer remaining people.)

The thought is to create a extra finite horizon to plan for.

David Blanchett

head of retirement analysis at PGIM

Here’s a tough instance, utilizing a quote for a 65-year-old man in New York who buys a no-frills annuity with a $100,000 lump sum. This individual would get about $500 a month ($6,000 a 12 months) for life if he began receiving a direct payout; the identical purchaser would get about $2,800 a month ($33,600 a 12 months) by ready 20 years to start out funds.

That stage of earnings can assist defray considerations of outliving one’s investments and different financial savings, in line with retirement consultants.

“You don’t know how long you’re going to live,” stated David Blanchett, head of retirement analysis at PGIM, Prudential’s funding administration arm. “The idea is to create a more finite horizon to plan for.

“You know whenever you survive to that age, you will be taken care of.”

A certain type — a qualified longevity annuity contract, or QLAC — can also reduce a retiree’s required minimum distributions from individual retirement accounts and 401(k) plans.

Consumers can use up to $135,000 or 25% (whichever is less) of their retirement funds to buy a QLAC. Someone with $500,000 of retirement savings would calculate a required distribution on $365,000 instead of the full $500,000.


However, despite their benefits, these annuities aren’t popular among seniors.

Deferred income annuities accounted for $1.7 billion (or 0.7%) of the $219 billion in total annuity sales in 2020, according to LIMRA, an insurance industry group. (Since longevity annuities are a subset of deferred income annuities, their share would be even smaller. LIMRA doesn’t break out this data.)

By comparison, variable annuities accounted for almost $99 billion of sales last year.

The mismatch is largely due to the psychological hurdle of handing over a large sum of money that won’t yield a benefit if one doesn’t survive another 20 or so years, Blanchett said.

And they’re not for everyone — a retiree who wants to retain control and flexibility over their money may be hard-pressed to hand cash to an insurer. They may prefer investing the funds instead.

“[Longevity annuities] are doubtlessly essentially the most environment friendly annuity, economically talking,” Blanchett said. “They’re with out a doubt the toughest behaviorally.”

Perhaps the easiest way to integrate a longevity annuity into your financial plan is by assessing a desired level of guaranteed future monthly income and using the annuity to plug any gaps, after accounting for other income sources like Social Security and pensions, Blanchett said.

(For instance, a retiree who envisions needing $50,000 a year to live comfortably at age 85 and already gets $30,000 a year from Social Security would get insurance quotes to determine the lump sum needed to generate $20,000 a year from the annuity.)

Other factors

However, this is a tougher financial-planning proposition than with other annuities — precisely because it’s difficult to determine how much money one will need to live in two decades, according to Tamiko Toland, director of retirement markets for CANNEX, which provides annuity data. That’s all the more difficult when trying to assess how inflation will affect the future cost of living.

An insurer’s credit rating also becomes much more important, experts said. A stronger financial rating generally means a higher likelihood the company will be around to make payments in the future.

It would be clever to get quotes from a number of insurers, and maybe even settle for a little little bit of a diminished fee from a higher-rated firm, Blanchett stated.

Consumers can buy longevity annuities with sure options that will make them extra palatable — however they’re going to quit a substantial quantity of month-to-month earnings for these options, consultants stated.

For instance, shoppers can buy them with a refund choice. If the client dies earlier than earnings begins, beneficiaries get a refund of the premium; if the client dies after earnings begins, beneficiaries get the premium minus any funds made.


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