Annuity Meaning, Definition & Types

Despite having some drawbacks, these insurance contracts provide consistent income.

What is Annuity

An annuity is a legal agreement between you and an insurance company under which you make a single payment or a series of payments in exchange for regular payments that could start right away or at some point in the future.

Points to Note

  • Insurance contracts known as annuities guarantee that you will receive regular income either now or in the future.

  • An immediate annuity turns a lump sum into cash flows right away, while a deferred annuity has an accumulation phase and a disbursement (annuitization) phase.

  • Either a one-time payment in full or a series of installments made over time can be used to purchase an annuity.

  • There are three main types of annuities: fixed, variable, and indexed. Each has a different level of risk and potential payout.

  • Annuity income is typically taxed at regular income tax rates rather than long-term capital gains rates, which are typically lower.

Knowledge of Annuities

  • An annuity’s purpose is to deliver a consistent income stream, typically during retirement. Like 401(k) contributions, funds accrue tax-deferred and are only eligible for penalty-free withdrawal after age 5912.

  • Numerous features of an annuity can be customized to the buyer’s unique requirements. You can decide when you want to annuitize your contributions, that is, begin receiving payments, in addition to deciding whether to make a single payment to the insurer or a series of payments. An immediate annuity is one that starts paying out payments right away, while a deferred annuity starts paying out payments at a future date that has been predetermined.

  • The disbursements’ duration can also change. You have the option of choosing to receive payments for your entire life or for a set amount of time, like 25 years.

    Naturally, securing a lifetime of payments can reduce the size of each check, but it also helps ensure that you don’t outlive your assets, which is one of the key benefits of annuities.

Different Types of Annuities

There are three main types of annuities: fixed, variable, and indexed. The risk and potential payout for each type varies. It is frequently designed as a deferred annuity for any of these.


The payout from fixed annuities is guaranteed. Fixed immediate annuities pay a fixed rate right away, and fixed deferred annuities pay you later. These two types of annuities are available. The drawback of this predictability is a modest annual return that is typically just a little bit higher than a bank’s certificate of deposit (CD).


Variable annuities offer the potential for higher returns but also come with greater risk. A higher return is possible with variable annuities, but the risk is higher as well. In this scenario, you select a mutual fund from a list that goes into your unique “sub-account.” In this instance, the performance of the investments in your sub-account will determine your retirement benefits.Your retirement payments in this case are determined by the performance of the investments in your sub-account.


Index annuities fall in the middle of the spectrum in terms of risk and potential reward. Although a portion of your return is based on the performance of a market index, such as the S&P 500, you still get a guaranteed minimum payout. In terms of risk and potential reward, index annuities fall in the middle.

  • Even though a portion of your return is dependent on the performance of a market index, like the S&P 500, you still receive a minimum payout that is guaranteed.

  • Despite the potential for higher earnings, variable and indexed annuities are frequently criticized for their comparably high fees and relative complexity.

  • Many annuitants, for example, are required to pay high surrender charges if they need to withdraw their money within the first few years of the contract. Variable and indexed annuities are frequently criticized for their comparatively high fees and relative complexity despite the possibility of higher earnings. If they need to withdraw their money within the first few years of the contract, many annuitants, for instance, must pay high surrender charges.

What Kinds of Annuities Available and the types of Annuities

Immediate Annuity

An immediate annuity is the most basic type of annuity. You make one lump-sum contribution. It is changed into an ongoing, assured stream of income that will last for a set amount of time (as little as five years) or for the rest of your life. Within a year, withdrawals might start.


tax benefits

Quick financial gain

Individual guaranteed income

Income stability

Deferred Annuity

A deferred annuity is a type of insurance policy that produces retirement income. A company that offers annuities offers you incremental repayments of your investment along with some returns in exchange for one-time or recurring deposits held for at least a year.

This assists you in achieving two financial objectives: accumulating a nest egg for retirement and then producing income once you reach that stage. Here is how deferred annuity contracts operate and when they might be advantageous for your financial situation.

a) The Phase of Accumulation

This type of annuity differs from immediate annuities, which demand a large upfront payment and typically offer lower rates of return, in that it has an accumulation phase. Because of this, single premium immediate annuities (SPIAs) are another name for many immediate annuities.

Periodic Annuity

Term deferred annuities eventually convert your balance into a predetermined number of payments, such as over five or twenty years. If you pass away during the term, your heirs will still receive payments.

However, once the term is over, payments cease, even if you are still alive.

Single-Premium Deferred Annuities

A single lump sum payment is made to purchase the contract with a single-premium deferred annuity. You might do this by making a sizable deposit from your savings or by transferring money from a retirement account, like your 401(k).

Be aware that if you transfer from a tax-advantaged traditional retirement plan, you will likely be required to pay income taxes on all income received from an annuity because the annuity’s funds have never been subject to taxes.

Variable Annuity:

There is no rate of return guarantee for variable annuities. When you invest in a variable annuity, your savings are placed in subaccounts that resemble mutual funds and contain securities like stocks, bonds, and money market accounts.

Your balance will increase and your future payout will be higher if the investments you choose perform well. Your balance won’t grow as quickly and might even decrease if your investments perform poorly, which will lower your expected payout in the future.

Fixed Annuity:

The most secure choice, frequently contrasted with a certificate of deposit (CD), is a fixed deferred annuity. Although the interest rate on a fixed annuity is frequently much lower than market returns, its guaranteed returns let you know exactly how much money you’ll have in retirement. Fixed annuities are a good option as a result if you can’t take any risks with your future retirement income but still want to ensure that your savings grow at least a little bit.

What are the Benefits of Investing in Annuities?

  • Creates Future Retirement Income Guarantees. Building your savings now for guaranteed income later is possible with a deferred annuity. According to Adam Deady, a certified financial planner (CFP) with MassMutual, “Deferred annuities offer a way to help cover essential expenses over the course of retirement by supplementing Social Security and pension income.”
  • Flexibility with investments. You can choose an investment strategy based on your objectives and risk tolerance from a variety of deferred annuity types.
  • Tax benefits. You are exempt from paying taxes on your gains so long as your money is invested in a deferred annuity. If you compare this to a taxable brokerage account or CD, where you must pay taxes annually, your return may be improved.
  • No Maximum Contribution. Your annual savings amount is capped by retirement plans like 401(k)s and IRAs. Because deferred annuities do not have contribution caps, they are effective complements to conventional retirement savings options.
  • Additional Rider Perks. Contract riders are optional extras that you can purchase when you purchase a deferred annuity. Popular choices include a guaranteed minimum payment when you begin collecting income that is unaffected by your investment performance and a death benefit for your heirs in the event that you pass away while in the accumulation phase. By investing on your own, you wouldn’t receive these advantages.

Deferred Annuities’ drawbacks

  • Lack of Liquidity When you purchase a deferred annuity, it can be expensive to withdraw your money before the agreed-upon time due to potential surrender fees, and the decision may be final once you begin receiving income. You give up asset liquidity in exchange for a lifetime income stream.
  • Taxes on Early Withdrawals. The IRS wants you to keep money in these accounts until retirement because deferred annuities have tax advantages. You might owe a 10% early withdrawal penalty on top of income taxes on your gains if you withdraw all of your money at once or end your contract before turning 59 12.
  • Possible High Fees In return for guaranteed income and investment returns, a deferred annuity may impose a wide range of fees. To ensure you fully comprehend the costs, familiarize yourself with the contract terms of any potential annuities.
  • Complexity of Structure Contracts for deferred annuities can be complicated, especially when they involve variable and fixed index annuities. You might want to speak with a reputable financial advisor before buying an annuity because of the nuances surrounding fees, guarantees, and investment terms.

Sensibility to Risk

Some investment risk is required in order to increase wealth to a level that can support long-term consumption goals in retirement. Annuities are among the safest financial instruments that can be included in a diverse portfolio. Due to the fact that annuities are technically insurance products rather than investments intended for the short term, their performance can resemble that of stocks and bonds with significantly less volatility. There are various levels of risk offered by various annuity types.

What Justifies Purchasing an Annuity?

  • Long-term contracts known as annuities carry penalties for early withdrawal.

  • With income annuities, you must relinquish control over your investment.

  • Many annuities have very little or no interest.

  • In some annuity types, guaranteed income cannot keep pace with inflation.

  • It’s possible that the annuity won’t give your beneficiaries a death benefit.

  • Annuities provide regular but infrequent liquidity, and occasionally none at all.

  • Investment-based annuities may have expensive fees.

  • To take a distribution from the annuity, you must wait until age 59.5.

How Do Annuities Function?

The purpose of an annuity, a long-term investment provided by an insurance company, is to lessen your risk of outliving your income. Your purchase payments (what you contribute) are transformed into recurring payments that may last a lifetime through annuitization.

You can select an annuity from Nationwide that will allow you to:

  • Invest all at once or gradually over time

  • Receive payments right away or at a later time.

  • Specify the rate of return you want: fixed, variable, or indexed.

You run the risk of losing money when you invest. The issuing insurance company’s ability to pay claims is a condition of all guarantees and protections; however, guarantees do not apply to any variable accounts, which are subject to investment risk, including the potential loss of principal.

What Does Annuity Calculator Mean?

The Annuity Calculator displays growth based on consistent deposits during the accumulation phase of an annuity and is designed for use in that phase. To determine the income payment phase of an annuity, please use our Annuity Payout Calculator.

Tax and Annuity Understanding

They do not, however, imply a complete tax escape. This means that taxes are postponed until after you start receiving annuity payments. Ordinary income is taxed on withdrawals and lump sum distributions from an annuity.


Q1. Is there an annuity age restriction?

Ans – Do annuities have a maximum age? The minimum age to purchase an individual annuity under the ICICI Pru Guaranteed Pension Plan – Immediate Annuity is 30 years old. An annuity can only be purchased once every 100 years.

Q2. When can I take money out of my annuity?

Anytime you want, you can withdraw money from an annuity, but be aware that you’ll only be getting a portion of the total contract value.

Q3. Do senior citizens make money from annuities?

Retirement income from annuities can be dependable, but if you pass away too soon, you might not get your money’s worth. When compared to mutual funds and other investments, annuities frequently have higher fees. An annuity can be tailored to meet your needs, but you will typically have to pay more or settle for a lower monthly income.

Q4. What will happen to the annuity if I pass away?

In some annuities, the “annuitant”‘s payments cease upon his or her passing, while in others, the payments continue for years to a spouse or other annuity beneficiary. At the time the contract is drafted, the annuity buyer chooses one of these options

Q5. What age is ideal for annuity purchases?

The majority of financial advisors will advise starting an income annuity between the ages of 70 and 75 in order to receive the highest payout. However, you alone will be able to judge when it’s time for a safe, reliable source of income.

Q6. Do annuities make monthly payments?

You can convert a lump sum of cash into a monthly, quarterly, or annual immediate annuity if you require a guaranteed stream of income right away. Until your death, you can choose to receive payments for a predetermined number of years.