As of 2005, U.S. individuals had an estimated $7.4 trillion invested in IRAs and employer-sponsored retirement accounts. Many retirees will thus face the difficult problem of turning a pool of assets into a stream of retirement income. Purchasing an immediate annuity is a common recommendation for retirees trying to maximize retirement spending. The vast majority of retirees, however, are unwilling to annuitize all their assets. This research demonstrates that a “longevity annuity,” which is distinct from an immediate annuity in that payouts begin late in retirement, is optimal for retirees unwilling to fully annuitize. For a typical retiree, allocating 10–15 percent of wealth to a longevity annuity creates spending benefits comparable to an allocation to an immediate annuity of 60 percent or more.
Note: The views expressed herein are those of the author and not necessarily those of Financial Engines.
Reprinted from Financial Analysts Journal, vol. 64, no. 1 (January/February 2008): 40–48. Author affiliation is accurate as of the original publication date.