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What is the “Period Income” Option on Annuities?

Annuities are popular financial products for individuals seeking a steady stream of income in their retirement years. A unique feature that annuities offer is the "Period Income" or "Guaranteed Period" option. Here, we delve into the mechanics of this option, its benefits, potential drawbacks, and uses in the current financial landscape.

The Period Income option on annuities signifies a plan where the entire annuity balance, inclusive of a portion of interest, is paid out in equal distributions over a predetermined span of years. This option is an ideal solution for those who have a requirement for a regular income for a specified period of their lives.

This arrangement mirrors the initial investment, providing distributions suspiciously similar to the amount initially placed into the annuity. This functionality of the Period Income option caters to a unique need where an individual desires to divest a lump sum from their possession for a set duration.

The Impact of Interest Rates on the 'Period Income' Option

Historically, the Period Income option was more appealing to investors when the interest rates were comparatively higher. High interest rates enabled insurers to generate significant interest over time, augmenting these payout schemes.

However, in today's low interest rate environment, insurers have a limited timeframe to generate substantial interest for such payouts. As a result, the lure of the Period Income option has slightly diminished, given the reduced potential for gains from interest.

Deferred Period Income Annuity and Asset Protection

An intriguing aspect of annuity contracts, particularly with the Period Income option, is the clause of deferment. In a deferred period income annuity, the income is delayed for a specific period, making these assets unattainable to the annuitant during this period.

This aspect could act as a shield against creditors, lawsuits, and liens, safeguarding the annuitant's financial future. These unaccessible funds, for all intents and purposes, do not belong to the annuitant until the deferment period concludes, adding an extra layer of asset protection.

The 'Period Income' Option and Deferred Compensation Arrangements

In a corporate setting, the Period Income option could be a viable tool for deferred compensation arrangements, such as salary continuation plans and other qualified or non-qualified arrangements. It allows companies to plan for steady, predictable payouts over a specified time, providing employees with a guaranteed income post-retirement or upon meeting other predetermined conditions.

While the Period Income option on annuities may not be as attractive today due to low interest rates, it still serves as a useful tool in financial planning. Whether it's for personal needs, asset protection, or corporate compensation arrangements, the Period Income option provides a steady, guaranteed income over a certain period. As with any financial decision, it is essential to consider personal financial needs and circumstances before choosing this or any other annuity option.


The Period Income option or Guaranteed Period option on Annuities means that the entire balance, plus some interest, will be paid out to you in equal amounts over the course of a set number of years.

This option may fulfill a specific need for income in a certain time of life.

It used to be slightly more attractive to investors when interest rates were higher, but, today, the low interest rate environment does not give insurers enough time to generate interest for these sorts of payouts.

The distributions will look suspiciously like the amount that you put into it. This can serve a purpose as well, if you have a need to get a lump sum out of your hands for a specific number of years.

Annuity contracts are firm and in such cases, particularly when the income is deferred for a number of years (a “deferred period income annuity”), for all intents and purposes those assets do not belong to the annuitant for the time being, which can potentially serve as a shield against creditors, lawsuits, and liens.

It could also be used for deferred compensation arrangements such as salary continuation plans and other qualified or non-qualified arrangements at companies.

What is the “Life with Period Certain” Option?
Should I Hold an Annuity Within My IRA?

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