Consider turning a portion of assets into income you can’t outlive

People are living longer, and accordingly, retirement is lasting longer—30 years or more for many. So make sure your retirement income plan has the same longevity, which means creating an income stream that lasts as long as you do. Annuities are designed for retirement. They offer several payment options, including lifetime income.
Fixed annuity guarantees are subject to the claims-paying ability of the issuing company. Variable annuity payments are not guaranteed and will fluctuate based on the performance of the underlying investments.
Herb's Story Video Screen Shot

Income you can’t outlive: Herb’s story

View From the Top

The planning for retirement, there are really two major aspects to consider.The first aspect is you must begin to think about what will you be doing upon retirement.

I'm not an idle person. I've got to keep active. I work out. I do upper body three times a week and jogging.

And the other side of it of course is the financial. I think you will find that upon retirement, there's so many other financial issues that you did not think of. I can't emphasize that enough.

I had preplanned to have my living expenses taken care of through my annuities. I have a fixed annuity with TIAA. It lasts through a lifetime, so I know exactly what I'm going to get month after month after month.

I urge everybody when they're approaching retirement, do some careful thinking.

The benefits

It starts with a solid foundation

Lifetime income sources such as Social Security, pensions and fixed annuities can help you create a foundation - or an “income floor” - designed to help cover everyday expenses throughout your retirement. These changes are not affected by changes in the market.
Guaranteed lifetime income from fixed annuities is subject to the claims paying ability of the issuing company.

Social Security

To maximize monthly benefits from the government, consider starting your claim at full retirement age or later. Spouses should plan together to make the most of spousal benefits.


Today fewer than 20% of American workers are offered a defined benefit pension like your grandparents may have had.1 If you have one, it should be inclluded in your income plan.


A fixed annuity can help bridge gaps you may have when it comes to income need to cover everyday expenses. You can choose when and how much of savings to convert to a lifetime income.
By the numbers

79% of Americans say having a guarantee of monthly income for the rest of their life is important to them.

Source: 2016 TIAA Lifetime Income Survey
What is an annuity?

An annuity can be a cornerstone of retirement

An annuity is a product offered by an insurance company that is designed for retirement and other long-term goals. Annuities can provide you with:


Annuities offer several income options to help meet your personal needs.


If you choose lifetime income, you won't have to worry about running out of money.


Having income you can't outlive allows greater flexibility for the remainder of yout investment portfolio to potentially meet unforeseen needs.

People with lifetime income from annuities are more likely to have a retirement lifestyle that has exceeded expectations

Lifestyle graphic
Source:   How Retirees Manage Retirement Savings for Retirement Income: A Survey of TIAA-CREF Participants by the TIAA-CREF Institute
What is an annuity?

An annuity can be a cornerstone of retirement

An annuity is a product offered by an insurance company that can generate a lifetime income stream in retirement. Annuities come in many flavors—some that pay just you, you and a partner, or you can add an option to ensure payments to beneficiaries during a specified period of time. Depending on the type of annuity, your income can be fixed or variable. Your initial income amount will be based, in part, on which options you choose.
Annuity basics

How annuities work


You put money in

During the accumulation stage, your funds accumulate tax deferred until you choose to start income.

With variable annuities, your money will be subject to the risks associated with investing in securities, including loss of principal.

You choose how to take income

At retirement, you can decide to start income. Options can include income that will last as long as you live, a "fixed period" (which is a specified period of time), a full lump-sum or ongoing systematic withdrawals.  Talk to your institution because options may vary depending on your plan.

You can make adjustments

Many people choose to turn just a portion of their assets into lifetime income to start and then convert more over time based on their needs. Additionally you may have some flexibility to make transfers between annuity accounts, with some restrictions, after you start taking income.  You’ll want to check your contract details.
Lifetime income is the annuity’s major attraction as a retirement income option.
Income options

Your income, your choices

Annuities can provide a wide range of flexible income options and, depending on the type of annuity, your income can be fixed or variable. Your initial income amount is based, in part, on which options you choose.

Your Income Options

  • Can be set up for just you or you and a partner.
  • Income can be for life or a set period of time.
  • Income may be accessible in other ways such as systematic withdrawals depending on your contract;
  • Income tax will be due at the time income or withdrawals are taken, plus a possible federal 10% penalty if you make a withdrawal before age 59½.
  • Once you set up lifetime or period certain income that balance is not available for income under other distribution options.
  • You cannot change the annuity option or annuity partner once you begin receiving income.
  • Features can be added to allow income to continue to beneficiaries for a specified period; adding this benefit will reduce the initial income amount.

Fixed vs. Variable Annuities

  • Fixed annuity income is consistent, reliable and guaranteed. For a fixed annuity the insurance company, not contract owner, assumes risk.
  • Variable annuity income is not guaranteed but has the potential to grow over time. The amount of each payment will fluctuate based on underlying investment performance. You assume the decision-making for the investments.
If you choose to invest in the variable investment products your money will be subject to the risks inherent in investing in securities, including loss of principal.
A closer look

Our Retirement Annuities

Learn more about the TIAA and CREF annuities that may be offered in your employer savings plan. Contact your institution to see which of these products are available in your plan.
Annuity contracts and certificates are issued by Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America (TIAA) and College Retirement Equities Fund (CREF).

TIAA Traditional

Our flagship fixed annuity can provide lifetime income that has the potential for increases that may help offset inflation.2

Variable Annuities (including the CREF Accounts, TIAA Real Estate and TIAA Access Annuities)

Our variable annuities can help you plan for lifetime income with growth potential, with income that may vary based on the performance of the investment choices you select.

Combining Fixed and Variable Annuities to Create Lifetime Income

When paired together, TIAA Traditional and variable annuities (such as CREF Stock account) can provide predictable, guaranteed income along with income that has the potential to grow to help keep pace with inflation, meet unexpected expenses and potentially leave a legacy, though the total amount received will fluctuate based upon underlying investment performance of the variable annuity(ies).  Even after starting income, transfers can be made between annuity accounts, with some restrictions, to pursue the fixed and variable income amount right for you. Talk to us about your situation because depending on your personal circumstances, there may be reasons to consider certain types of income, for example if you are in poor health you may want to keep more of your assets available for immediate needs.

Unlike the TIAA Traditional annuity, TIAA Real Estate and CREF variable annuity accounts do not guarantee a minimum income. Instead, income is more directly related to an account’s investment performance. As a result, income from a variable annuity account is generally more volatile than from the TIAA Traditional annuity.

Keep in mind that there are inherent risks associated with investing in securities, including loss of principal. The greater the risk, the more likely you can lose money.  You should carefully consider your needs and the suitability of a product prior to purchase.

Any guarantees under annuities issued by TIAA are subject to the issuer's claims-paying ability. Payments from the variable accounts will rise or fall based on investment performance.

A history of payment consistency

Annuity payments rely on the provider’s ability to pay, which is why it makes sense to get annuities through the TIAA family of companies.

100 years

TIAA has offered annuities for nearly 100 years. Since 1918, making us one of the longest running providers in the country.

13 years of increases

TIAA has increased TIAA Traditional lifetime income payments 13 years out of the past 20 (as of 11/15). Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Since 1949

Every year since 1949, we’ve paid more than our guaranteed minimum.

Additional amounts are not guaranteed for future years.
Source:  TIAA-CREF Actuarial Department calculations.
Stay flexible

You can tailor your plan to suit your needs

Annuity strategies are not one-size-fits-all. Discover how taking income from annuities can be flexible to meet your needs.
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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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.
TIAA Traditional is a guaranteed insurance contract and not an investment for federal securities law purposes.
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.
You should consider the investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses carefully before investing.  Please call 877 518-9161 or log on to for underlying product and fund prospectuses that contain this and other information.  Please read the prospectuses carefully before investing.
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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.