It should come as no surprise that recent polls of middle-aged working Americans show that the majority of the country’s workforce isn’t confident when to comes to retirement plans — for years, studies and polls have indicated a steady decrease in the number of workers who believe that they’ll be able to retire at a reasonable age and continue to live comfortably throughout retirement.
The most recent 2014 Retirement Confidence Survey, conducted by the U.S. Employee Benefit Research Institute, shows that only 18% of working Americans feel confident that they’ll have enough money to retire comfortably. It’s clear that private companies and corporations aren’t willing to take major docks in their profits, but the insurance industry seems to be stepping up its game in response to the nationwide lack of confidence.
The solution, proposed by insurers, is called a longevity annuity. These types of annuities aren’t exactly new, as Forbes reporter Jean Chatzky notes, and they’re basically a type of deferred annuity where the retiree-to-be gives a lump sum of cash to an insurance company, and the company promises to provide income later on in life (i.e., during retirement).
But, as Chatzky explains, a recent law passed in July 2014 now allows longevity annuities to be purchased inside of 401(k) plans and IRA plans, if the retiree agrees to start collecting his/her income at age 85 instead of the usual minimum age (70.5 years old). This new legislation, Chatzky states, will likely cause a rise in longevity annuities among bigger nationwide insurers, and ultimately will become a popular option for retirement planners throughout 2015.
Granted, there are plenty of risks that accompany any annuity, and longevity annuities are no exception. It’s difficult for employees to cancel their annuity agreement and take back their money should they change their minds, and any annuity offering a “lifetime” source of income could definitely run into problems, since it’s nearly impossible to predict just how long one person’s post-retirement life will last.
But the recent legislation allowing for more flexibility in longevity annuities has been in the works for quite some time, MarketWatch’s Andrea Coombes states, and financial stability for working Americans was the main goal throughout the entire legislation process.
Whether or not 2015 really will be “the year for longevity annuities” is uncertain — but in a market where the consequences of nearly every financial decision are uncertain, this particular change might just be worth the risk.