"I'm a real advocate of fixed annuities," says Warschauer, who compares it to a fixed vs. variable mortgage rate. "It's obvious with a fixed mortgage you're more secure. When you're in your retirement years, you really want to be able to count on the cash in-flow, and the fixed annuity does that." Of course, the fact that it's fixed means it doesn't go up with inflation. His recommendation: Package a growth element within your IRA or 401(k), and then shift money out into immediate fixed annuities for daily living expenses.
On the variable annuity route, consider products that come with bonuses or guarantees such as living benefit riders, says Bayne Northern, a national sales manager for Penn Mutual Life's Annuity Distribution System. Variable annuities that include bonuses "may actually 'replace' what you have just lost in the market."
But guarantees as part of a variable annuity come at an added expense, cautions Peter Miralles, president of Atlanta Wealth Consultants. In addition, he says, "Generally the guarantees are diminished when withdrawals are made while the market value is down."
Shaun Golden of Golden Wealth Management in Riverhead, N.Y., concurs about living benefit riders, which can be found in today's variable annuity contracts, offering a "lifetime of guaranteed income regardless of financial market conditions." Golden, who has positioned a portion of his clients' assets into these types of annuities, says he's getting expressions of appreciation for protecting "the income which we count on each month."
Sollmann says variable annuities with an income rider are worth considering for those who are still saving for retirement who want the potential to grow assets along with income protection, even in down markets.
For those concerned about fees, Laurence Greenberg, president and CEO of Jefferson National Life Insurance Co., suggests a low-cost, no-load variable annuity, such as the one his firm offers. It charges a flat-insurance fee of $20 per month.