Retirement Plan Income Options

Minimum Distribution Requirements

To encourage individuals to take responsibility for their financial well-being, the federal government allows tax deferral on earnings in retirement accounts. However, by the time you reach the age of 70½ and are no longer working, you must begin taking taxable income from your retirement accounts. TIAA-CREF can issue payments to you in the minimum amount to satisfy federal requirements.

Lifetime Annuity Payments

Retirement may last more than 30 years, and the last thing you want is to outlive your assets. With a lifetime annuity, you'll receive monthly payments that won't run out.*  A one-life annuity will provide the most income, with payments ceasing at your death. If you choose a one-life option with a guaranteed period and you die during the guaranteed period, payments continue to your beneficiary(ies) for the rest of the guaranteed period.

Two-life annuities pay somewhat less, but they ensure that income will last for your and your annuity partner's lifetimes. You can also add a guaranteed period. If both you and your annuity partner die within the guaranteed period, payments continue to your beneficiary(ies) for the rest of the period.

Systematic Withdrawals

Your retirement plan may permit you to take single-sum or systematic withdrawals from your accounts when you retire. A lump-sum withdrawal can be useful for paying off a mortgage or other debts, but you have the potential to incur a substantial tax bill, reducing the power of your savings over time.

Systematic withdrawals allow you to have any amount over $100 sent to you from your savings at intervals you specify. Your accumulations are yours to leave to your beneficiaries, but these withdrawals do not necessarily meet federal minimum distribution requirements, and you have no guarantee that you won't outlive your assets.

Interest-Only Payments

Interest-only payments let you take regular payments in the amount of the interest that would ordinarily be credited to your retirement annuity accumulation in a TIAA Traditional Account.  This allows you to preserve your assets. There are restrictions on when you can take these payments, and they do not automatically satisfy federal minimum distribution requirements.

Transfer Payout Annuities

The TIAA Traditional Account is a guaranteed contract backed by the claims-paying ability of TIAA. Part of what allows us to guarantee principal and interest is your promise not to take all your funds from the account at once. For Retirement and Group Retirement  Annuities, transfers and withdrawals from TIAA Traditional can be scheduled via a Transfer Payout Annuity, where you receive your funds over a 10-year period, during which the balance remaining in the account continues to receive interest.

How to Begin Receiving Income

A complete list of income options available varies according to the type of contract you own.  If you know which income options are available from your employer-sponsored retirement plan, you can download the appropriate form for your contract.  The list below provides an overview.

To review income options for your plan(s) or if you aren't sure which form to use, please call a retirement specialist at 1 800 842-2776.

Lifetime Annuity Income

  • RAs/GRAs, ERISA
  • RAs/GRAs, non-ERISA
  • SRAs/GSRAs, ERISA
  • SRAs/GSRAs, non-ERISA
  • Rollover IRA

Minimum Distribution Income

  • ERISA
  • Non-ERISA

TIAA Traditional Interest Payment Retirement Options

  • ERISA
  • Non-ERISA

*  Any guarantees under annuities issues by TIAA are subject to TIAA's claims-paying ability.
Payments under CREF and the TIAA Real Estate Account are variable and will rise or fall based on investment performance.

© 2013 and prior years, Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association - College Retirement Equities Fund (TIAA-CREF), New York, NY 10017