An immediate annuity is a good part of many retirement plans. It provides guaranteed income for life, ensuring you won’t outlive all your money and will have a minimum income, in addition to Social Security. Some economists discuss a new reason to buy annuities. They call it dementia insurance. Everyone, as he or she ages, has a reduction in cognitive or decisionmaking ability. That has an impact on a number of things but especially financial decisions. Putting part of your nest egg into an immediate annuity prevents you from making financial mistakes with the money. The economists say that’s one more good reason to add annuities to your plans.
One answer to the challenge of needing to manage money, on the one hand, and declining cognition, on the other, is to purchase an annuity early in retirement. An annuity transforms 401(k) balances into a stream of lifetime income, which requires further decisions. As discussed last week, the cheapest way to purchase the best annuity is to delay claiming Social Security benefits. For those with modest 401(k) balances, the ideal strategy may be to work as long as possible, then use 401(k) assets to pay for living expenses to delay claiming an extra two or three years. The thing to remember is that the monthly Social Security benefit at age 70 is 75 percent higher than that at age 62. And the Social Security annuity is indexed for inflation, a product hard to find in the private market.