Question: I have been an educator my entire life and hold my retirement plan accounts with The Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America-College Retirement Equities Fund, also known as TIAA and formerly, TIAA-CREF. What types of options will TIAA give me now that I am retired?
Answer: While I am not a TIAA employee or have any affiliation, in working with clients, I do see a lot of these accounts that cross my desk from time to time. I believe that there are likely thousands, if not, millions of American employees and retirees who are educators, scientists, and hospital employees who have TIAA accounts. TIAA options include CREF variable annuities which can be rolled into a new or existing IRA.
Here is what I understand to be the case. Many participating workers may have something called a TIAA Traditional Annuity. These accounts are designed to be a guaranteed account with the purpose to provide a competitive interest rate for participants during the ‘accumulation’ phase of their life (the ‘working years’). Once the person retires, he can annuitize and receive lifetime (guaranteed) income.
Most of the time, the shortest length of time to roll out of a TIAA Traditional Annuity is by taking 10 payments over 9 years. TIAA calls this the Transfer Payout Annuity or TPA. This option is best for people who want to move some or all of their TIAA Traditional account elsewhere (such as an IRA rollover or cash withdrawal). So long as the annual payments from the TPA are directly rolled to an IRA, there shouldn’t be any income tax consequences.
Comment: If money is transferred via a TPA into a taxable account, it will be subject to tax and depending on a client’s age, a 10% early withdrawal penalty may apply.
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