Fixed annuities are a popular choice for individuals who want a guaranteed interest rate and a stream of income they can’t outlive. With a fixed annuity, the principal investment and a specified interest rate are both guaranteed.
Some of the advantages of fixed annuities include:
- Minimal risk exposure
- A tax deferral on earnings
- Access to your money (Withdrawals made before age 59½ are generally subject to a 10% federal income tax penalty, and a contingent deferred sales charge – CDSC – may apply)
- Death benefits for your beneficiaries
An equity-indexed annuity is a fixed annuity that earns interest or provides benefits that are linked to an external equity reference or an equity index. The value of the index might be tied to a stock or other equity index. One of the most commonly used indices is Standard & Poor’s 500 Composite Stock Price Index (the S&P 500), which is an equity index. The value of any index varies from day to day and is not predictable.
When you buy an equity-indexed annuity you own an insurance contract. You are not buying shares of any stock of index.
How Are They Different from Other Fixed Annuities?
An equity-indexed annuity is different from other fixed annuities because of the way it credits interest to your annuity’s value. Some fixed annuities only credit interest calculated at a rate set in the contract. Other fixed annuities also credit interest at rates set from time to time by the insurance company. Equity-indexed annuities credit interest using a formula based on changes in the index to which the annuity is linked. The formula decides how the additional interest, if any, is calculated and credited. How much additional interest you get and when you get it depends on the features of your particular annuity.
Your equity-indexed annuity, like other fixed annuities, also promises to pay a minimum interest rate. The rate that will be applied will not be less than this minimum guaranteed rate even if the index-linked interest rate is lower. The value of your annuity also will not drop below a guaranteed minimum.
With an immediate annuity, you immediately begin receiving income payments soon after you purchase it.
Immediate annuities features:
- Immediate annuities are usually purchased with a lump-sum payment
- Investments can fixed or variable
- Investments are tax-deferred, so you don’t pay taxes on accumulated earnings until you withdraw your money – only your earnings are taxed as ordinary income
- Income options include a guaranteed payment for life or a specified period of time (guarantees subject to the claims-paying ability of the issuing insurance company; they don’t apply to the investment performance or safety of the underlying investment options)
- Options include death benefits
- Investments can lock in a future income stream using all IMMEDIATE ANNUITY OPTIONS
- Useful for defined benefit pensions and for legacy planning
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