For millions of Americans, a life annuity can provide safety of principal and tax deferral. However, one disadvantage inherent in most life annuities is their inability to keep up with inflation over the long-term.
For example, assume that you invest $100,000 into a single premium immediate life annuity. as an example, a current contract from a major annuity company would then pay out $658.59 per month, for a total of $7,903.08 for the year. The problem is if the rate of inflation is 3%, then the purchasing power of these payments will decline from one year to the next. Obviously, $7,903 will not buy in a future year what it can now. Imagine how you feel twenty years from now when the purchasing power of your life annuity is reduced by 47%!
One way that life annuity buyers can deal with this problem is to purchase a cost-of-living rider in the contract. This rider is designed to ensure that the income from the annuity stays abreast of the rate of inflation over time.
However, these will be a trade off in that less income may be received today.
For example, the same immediate life annuity contract with a 3% inflation protection rider will only pay $499.06 per month initially. But this amount will increase by 3% each year for the duration of the payout, thus providing some protection from inflation. Of course, it is plain to see that there is a cost to this rider, as the initial monthly payment is $159.53 less than the contract without the COLA rider. However, if the annuitant should live long enough to receive payments for the next 20 years, then the payment by year 20 would be $901.36 per month or $242.77 per month more than the straight-life annuity contract payout. The longer you live, the more value the inflation rider becomes in your life annuity.
COLA riders can come in different forms, with some riders having a specific cost, while others (such as the one shown previously) merely affect the dollar amount of the monthly payout (i.e. less today and more later). Different rates of increase are also generally available, depending upon how much inflation protection the life annuity contract holder desires. For example, the contract as shown previously also has a 6% inflation protection rider option, which would result in the contract holder receiving a proportionately lower payment each month to begin with, and a higher payment at the end of the term.
Financial Professionals–annuity lead program