Flexible income options in your employer plan

Your retirement income will likely come from a variety of sources, each with its own rules for taking distributions. Knowing how each one works can help you manage taxes and maximize your income during retirement.

Your Retirement Plan Brings You:


Choose from a variety of income options to suit your needs.


Combine income options, payment frequencies, and start dates to create a customized income plan.

Income You Cannot Outlive

Cover your everday expenses with lifetime income from our TIAA and CREF annuities.


Your employer plan with TIAA may consist of annuities, listed here, and/or a wide range of mutual funds.

Fixed Annuities

  • TIAA Traditional Annuity
  • TIAA Stable Value

Variable Annuities

  • CREF Stock Account
  • CREF Global Equities
  • CREF Growth Account
  • CREF Equities Account
  • CREF Bond Marketing Account
  • CREF Inflation-Linked Bond Account
  • CREF Money Market Account
  • CREF Social Choice
  • TIAA Real Estate
Income Options Video Screen Shot

There are many ways to access income from your annuity.

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Income Options in Retirement

Meet John … he's 10 years away from retiring and he's thinking about how much income he'll need, when he'll need it, how frequently he should get it and where that money will come from.

John has a retirement plan that offers TIAA annuities through his employer. The good news is that the options under his employer retirement plan offer John choice, confidence and flexibility to help meet his income needs.

John can choose from a spectrum of income options to create his own income plan. He can convert portions of his assets at different times — some now, some later — and has the flexibility to combine different income options to suit his financial needs.

Depending on the options he chooses, John can determine the frequency and amount of his payments. Let's take a closer look, beginning with the choice that provides the most certainty: Lifetime Income.

If John selects lifetime income, he'll receive a stream of monthly payments that he cannot outlive, much like a pension. Under the terms of his plan, John can turn a portion of his accumulation into income he can't outlive — a choice many plan investment options may not provide.

The amount of John's lifetime income payments can be steady and reliable through a fixed annuity, such as TIAA Traditional, or his lifetime income payments may vary upwards or downwards if he chooses one of TIAA's Variable Annuities.

John could also choose a combination of both fixed and variable payments. But with either choice — he'll never outlive his income!

John can use some of his retirement savings to generate guaranteed income to help cover essential or everyday expenses such as housing, food, and utility bills.

John can elect to receive payments for just himself, or for him and a loved one. It ensures they will each have income for as long as they live. He can also add a guarantee period so that payments continue to a beneficiary should he (and his loved one) die before the specified period ends.

And although John cannot change some of the choices he's made after beginning lifetime income, he can retain control and flexibility. For example, he can make transfers to other annuity accounts, with some restrictions, in response to changing market conditions or inflation.

We understand that people have diverse needs, so we offer many choices. John may want to combine lifetime income with other options to create a customized income plan. For example, if John needs income for a specific time period, say until his mortgage is paid off, he can choose to receive fixed period payments for a duration of up to 30 years.

John can also add flexibility to his income plan with systematic withdrawals to cover discretionary costs such as travel or home improvements.

With this systematic withdrawal option he can choose the amount and frequency of payments, monthly, quarterly, semiannually, or annually and also change them anytime. He can start and stop payments whenever he likes and even switch to another income choice at any time.

He can also leave a portion of his retirement savings untouched. If necessary he can take a cash withdrawal of all or a portion of his savings to cover unforeseen expenses like car repairs or large health care expenses. Whatever is left, he has the flexibility to leave it in his is account and withdraw it at whatever pace he desires, or convert it to a stream of income later.

While these options offer more control, they do not give John the certainty of lifetime income. There is a chance that he could run out of money.

John, with TIAA's help, can combine options into a plan that is tailored to his needs in retirement.

In addition to the income options we've just described, there are special rules for withdrawals from TIAA Traditional for certain plans.

A Transfer Payout Annuity allows John to access his TIAA Traditional Annuity savings over a certain number of years. However, since a Transfer Payout Annuity only provides income for a limited period of time, and because John may be giving up higher amounts of lifetime income if he contributed to TIAA Traditional throughout his career, he should speak with us before choosing this option to ensure it's right for him.

With the TIAA Interest-Only Option, John may receive payments that equal his interest earnings each month once he reaches age 55, if his plan allows it. He can then switch to another income option if his needs change, or to the Minimum Distribution Option once he reaches 70½.

Lastly, with our Minimum Distribution Option, we will calculate how much of John's plan assets he needs to receive to meet federal distribution requirements when he reaches age 70½, or retires, whichever is later. And if he doesn't need this money for income, we can help with other products that may fit his needs and preferences.

For nearly 100 years, TIAA has been committed to helping people like John and his family pursue a comfortable retirement We can help John navigate through these decisions and create a personalized income plan that is right for him — by providing choice, flexibility, and an income that cannot be outlived.

To learn more, please contact your dedicated TIAA consultant or call us at 800-842-2252.

The annuities in your retirement plan offer a variety of income options, described below. One or more of which may be right for your financial needs. Please note that not all options are available with all plans or contracts. Be sure to read Getting Started to learn more about when to consider different income choices.
Annuity Options
Your retirement plan may also include mutual funds. When you retire, you can move those assets to an annuity to ensure income for life or you may access the money youve accumulated through one-time and/or systematic withdrawals and through RMD. Refer to the contract section below for more details.

Retirement Plan Contracts

The annuities assets in your retirement plan are in a product, or contract, that your employer has chosen for the plan. Each contract has different features.
What contract do I have? You can determine which contract(s) you have by logging in to your account from tiaa.org and expanding the View Contracts link underneath your plan name.
View the table below to see which flexible income options are available to you.


You can choose from the spectrum of flexible income options outlined above to create your own income plan. You can convert portions of your assets at different times – some now, some later – you can determine the frequency and amount of your payments, and you can combine different income options to suit your unique needs.
As you prepare for the future, consider including a combination of annuities in your income plan. With a fixed annuity such as TIAA Traditional, you can cover your essential expenses such as housing, utilities and food by converting a portion of your assets to an income you cannot outlive. Assets in a variable annuity can be converted to lifetime income or withdrawn as needed for discretionary or unexpected expenses at a later time. This gives you the flexibility to adapt your income plan as your needs change over time.
In addition to the flexibility built in to TIAA’s income options, you even have some flexibility once you convert assets to a stream of income. For example, you can make transfers between annuity accounts, with some restrictions, in response to changing market conditions or inflation.

Income You Cannot Outlive

With TIAA, you can turn a portion of your accumulation into annuity income you can't outlive – a choice most plan investment options cannot provide. The amount of your lifetime income payments can be steady and reliable through a fixed annuity, such as TIAA Traditional, or the lifetime income payments may vary upwards or downwards if you choose one of TIAA's Variable Annuities, giving you the potential for income growth and the ability to keep pace with inflation.  You could also choose a combination of both fixed and variable payments.
Next Steps

How TIAA can help

Lifetime income

Investigate income options that can help create lifetime income to help realize your retirement lifestyle.

Investment strategies

We can help you align your asset allocation strategy with your long-term income needs.

Don’t go it alone

We can help you create a retirement income strategy that factors in your concerns, as well as your goals.

Get in Touch

Talk with a TIAA Consultant to help you shape your overall retirement strategy and to help you consider the next steps.


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You should consider the investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses carefully before investing.  Please call 877-518-9161 or log on to www.tiaa-cref.org for underlying product and fund prospectuses that contain this and other information.  Please read the prospectuses carefully before investing.
Before consolidating assets, be sure to carefully consider the benefits of both the existing and new product. There will likely be differences in features, costs, surrender charges, services, company strength and other important aspects. There may also be tax consequences or other penalties associated with the transfer of assets. Indirect transfers may be subject to taxation and penalties. Consult with your own advisors regarding your particular situation.
Annuity contracts contain exclusions, limitations, reductions of benefits and may contain terms for keeping them in force. We can provide you with costs and complete details.
TIAA Traditional is a guaranteed insurance contract and not an investment for Federal Securities Law purposes.
The TIAA Traditional Retirement Annuity (RA) Contract form series 1000.24; Group Retirement Annuity (GRA) Contract form series G1000.4 or G1000.5, G1000.6 or G1000.7; Supplemental Retirement Annuity (SRA) Contract form series 1200.8; Group Supplemental Retirement Annuity (GSRA) Contract form series G1250.1; IRA Annuity Contract form series 1280.2 or 1280.4 (not available in all states) or TIAA-IRA-01; Roth IRA Annuity Contract form series 1280.3 or 1280.5 (not available in all states) or TIAA-Roth-01; Keogh Annuity TIAA Contract form series G1350. Retirement Choice Contract form Series IGRS-01-5-ACC, IGRS-01-60-ACC, and IGRS-01-84-ACC, Certificate Series IGRS-CERT1-5-ACC, IGRS-CERT1-60-ACC, IGRS-CERT1-84-ACC; Retirement Choice Plus Contract form Series IGRSP-01-5-ACC, IGRSP-01-60-ACC, IGRSP-01-84-ACC, Certificate Series IGRSP-CERT1-5-ACC, IGRSP-CERT1-60-ACC, IGRSP-CERT1-84-ACC are issued by Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America.
The Intelligent Variable Annuity, contract form series TCL-VA2 is issued and underwritten by TIAA-CREF Life Insurance Company, headquartered in New York, NY. TIAA-CREF Individual & Institutional Services, LLC, member FINRA, distributes securities. The TIAA-CREF Investment Horizon Annuity, contract form series TCL-MVA 1 is issued and underwritten by TIAA-CREF Life Insurance Company, headquartered in New York, NY. The Single Premium Immediate Annuity, contract form series TCL-1009, TCL-1033, TCL-901 is issued and underwritten by TIAA-CREF Life Insurance Company, headquartered in New York, NY. These products may not be available in all states. Please call us for details.
TIAA Traditional is issued by Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America (TIAA), New York, NY.  After-tax annuities are issued by TIAA-CREF Life Insurance Company., New York, NY. Each entity in the TIAA family of companies is solely responsible for its own financial condition and contractual obligations.
This article is intended for informational and educational purposes only and should not be regarded as a recommendation or an offer to buy or sell any product or service to which the information may relate.  Certain products and services may not be available to all entities or persons.
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