Learn about the 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 Offers 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 For as Long as You live

You can cover your everyday 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 Account
  • CREF Growth Account
  • CREF Equities Account
  • CREF Core Bond Account
  • CREF Inflation-Linked Bond Account
  • CREF Money Market Account
  • CREF Social Choice Account
  • TIAA Real Estate Account

TIAA Traditional and TIAA Stable Value are issued by Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America (TIAA), New York, NY.

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Understanding your income options

Your Income Options

The annuities in your retirement plan offer a variety of income options, described in this Annuity Options tableOpens dialog. One or more 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.

Your retirement plan may also include mutual funds. When you retire, you may want to 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 Retirement Plan Contracts tableOpens dialog 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 – determine the frequency and/or amount of your payments, and you can combine different income options to suit your unique needs.

As you prepare for the future, you may want to 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 can give 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 For as Long as You Live

With TIAA, you can turn a portion of your accumulation into lifetime annuity income – 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

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Ready to Retire?

Take the next steps to activate the lifetime income options you may already have in your plan.

Annuity account options are available through contracts issued by TIAA or CREF. These contracts are designed for retirement or other long-term goals, and offer a variety of income options, including lifetime income. Payments from the variable annuity accounts are not guaranteed and will rise or fall based on investment performance.

Any guarantees under annuities issued by TIAA are subject to TIAA's claims-paying ability. TIAA Traditional and TIAA Stable Value are guaranteed insurance contracts and not investments for federal securities law purposes.

Exchanging your savings for income payments (referred to as “annuitization”) is a permanent decision and once lifetime income payments has been selected you are unable to change to another option.

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 may contain terms for keeping them in force. We can provide you with costs and complete details.

TIAA Traditional and TIAA Stable Value are fixed annuity products issued through these contracts by Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America (TIAA), 730 Third Avenue, New York, NY, 10017: TIAA Traditional form series including but not limited to: 1000.24; G-1000.4; IGRS-01-84-ACC; IGRSP-01-84-ACC; 6008.8. TIAA Stable Value form series SV-01 and SV-02; TIAA certificate series - SV-CERT1 and SV-CERT2. Not all contracts are available in all states or currently issued.

Certain products and services may not be available to all entities or persons.

Please note that TIAA is not responsible for the content or privacy policies of third-party sites that may be referenced in this article or to which you may link from this article. TIAA does not endorse or recommend the products, services, or information found on any third-party site.

This material is for informational or educational purposes only and does not constitute fiduciary investment advice under ERISA, a securities recommendation under all securities laws, or an insurance product recommendation under state insurance laws or regulations. This material does not take into account any specific objectives or circumstances of any particular investor, or suggest any specific course of action. Investment decisions should be made based on the investor’s own objectives and circumstances.