Retirement Plan Distributions

Retirement Plan Distributions

When it comes to receiving the fruits of your labor — the money accumulated in your employer-sponsored retirement plan — you are faced with a few broad options. Should you take the payout as systematic payments, a lifetime annuity, or a lump sum?

Systematic withdrawals

Some retirement plans may allow you to take systematic withdrawals: either a fixed dollar amount on a regular schedule, a specific percentage of the account value on a regular schedule, or the total value of the account in equal distributions over a specified period of time.

The lifetime annuity option

Your retirement plan may allow you to take payouts as a lifetime annuity, which converts your account balance into guaranteed monthly payments based on your life expectancy. If you live longer than expected, the payments continue anyway.*

There are several advantages associated with this payout method. It helps you avoid the temptation to spend a significant amount of your assets at one time and the pressure to invest a large sum of money that might not last for the rest of your life. Also, there is no large initial tax bill on your entire nest egg; each monthly payment is subject to income tax at your current rate.

If you are married, you may have the option to elect a joint and survivor annuity. This would result in a lower monthly retirement payment than the single annuity option, but your spouse would continue to receive a portion of your retirement income after your death. If you do not elect an annuity with a survivor option, your monthly payments end with your death.

The main disadvantage of the annuity option li