Hargreaves Lansdown

Your annuity options

When you set up your annuity it's fixed for life, so it's vital you choose your options carefully, and ensure you get the best rate you can for your chosen option. You should consider both your immediate and long-term income needs when making your decisions as well as those of any spouse or partner. Make sure you declare all health and lifestyle factors for both of you as you could get more income.

Below we have listed the four main decisions you need to make when setting up your annuity. You can mix and match to suit your needs and requirements. If you want some variable income too you can also try out a combination of an annuity and drawdown via our new Retirement Planner. If you can't find the option you're looking for please call our Helpdesk on 0117 980 9940.

Who do you want to receive your income?

Single Life: Just myself
Your annuity income will be paid only to you throughout your life and will cease when you die.

Joint Life: Myself and my spouse/partner
You can continue to support your spouse or partner with up to 100% of your annuity income after you die.


Do you want your income to increase?

I would like a level income
Your income will remain level and won't increase. Although the income may be higher initially, you should bear in mind the effects of inflation over time.

I would like my income to track inflation
Your income will move in line with the Retail Price Index (RPI), and therefore track inflation and retain its buying power. Your personal costs and expenses may increase by more or less than RPI.

I would like my income to increase by a fixed percentage
Your income will rise by a fixed percentage each year (such as 3% or 5%). This means your income could counter the effects of inflation.


Do you want your income guaranteed?

I would like a guarantee period
The payments can be guaranteed for a specified length of time, typically 5 or 10 years, but you may be able to choose a longer period if you want (longer guarantees are a new option from 6 April 2015). If you die within this time the income will continue to be paid out to your estate, or to the beneficiaries you nominated, for the remainder of the guarantee period.

I wouldn't like a guarantee period
Unless you have opted for a joint life annuity, your income will stop upon your death, even if you die shortly after taking it.

I would like a money back option (value protection)
You can also choose to protect the value of the annuity, so if you die before a pre-set age, the remaining purchase price can be paid back to your nominated beneficiaries, less the income already paid out. If you die before the age of 75 this can be tax-free; it could be subject to tax if you die over the age of 75.

How do you want your income to be paid?

Payment in advance
You will receive your first payment immediately and then at the start of your chosen payment period.

Payment in arrears
Your income will be paid at the end of your chosen payment period.

Buying your annuity - choose wisely. Don't forget that once you've chosen your annuity provider and set up your annuity you cannot currently change it for the rest of your life.

Free instant annuity quote

Couple

Meet Brian and Susan

Brian is an IT manager and has been married to Susan for 35 years. They have 3 children and 6 grandchildren.

Brian and Susan have both done their sums and have worked out how much they need to live on. This is based on what they currently spend on living expenses, running the house etc. and taking into consideration how much they plan to spend on travel and other hobbies now they are retired.

Brian wants to make sure that if he dies first Susan will have enough to live on. Brian's other pensions pay a widow's pension and are linked to inflation so he is keen to consider an annuity that continues to support Susan. They have worked out Susan would need about half of Brian's pension.

Hargreaves Lansdown's Head of Advice, Danny Cox, might suggest:

"Brian and Susan have done their homework and worked out their retirement budget; this is a really good idea. A joint life annuity comes to mind for them. A 50% spouse's pension will mean Susan will receive a pension of half the amount Brian has been receiving when he dies.

A level pension suits Brian and Susan since they have other income which is index-linked to help protect against inflation. A level pension provides them with a higher income now than they would receive if they had a pension which increases. This will help them enjoy the early years of their retirement, but the buying power of this level pension will reduce over time.

If Brian and Susan decide the pension should stay the same after Brian's death they should take 100% spouse's pension. Providing a 100% spouse's pension means a lower pension income than if you provide a 50% spouse's pension."

Choosing your annuity is an important decision which should be considered carefully. This is a fictitious but realistic scenario to help you make your own decisions; it does not constitute a personal recommendation. If you are unsure about the suitability of any aspect you should seek financial advice.

Man

Meet John

John is single and works in accounts. His children are both grown up and are financially independent. John wants to make the most out of the income from his pension scheme now because he will also be getting an income from his other pension arrangements which will be index-linked (that is, the amount he receives will increase over time).

Hargreaves Lansdown's Head of Advice, Danny Cox, might suggest:

"After taking tax-free cash, a level annuity would be my initial thought for John. This would work well but only because he has other index-linked pensions. If he did not have these other index-linked pensions I would not be suggesting a level pension. The level pension will pay the highest amount of immediate income.

John does not need death benefits from his pension and wants to maximise income now, so an annuity in only his name without a guarantee period does just that. It does mean that on John's death no payment will be made to his family.

If John did want to make sure some benefit is paid if he were to die early, he could consider adding a five year guarantee period. A five year guarantee period need not reduce your starting pension by very much.

This guarantee means if you die in the first five years, your income will continue to be paid up until the end of the fifth year. This means your estate will receive some benefit if you die early. You can also normally choose a 10 year guarantee if you wish."

Choosing your annuity is an important decision which should be considered carefully. This is a fictitious but realistic scenario to help you make your own decisions; it does not constitute a personal recommendation. If you are unsure about the suitability of any aspect you should seek financial advice.

Couple

Meet Mary

Mary works in human resources and is married to Peter. Mary is looking forward to retirement and spending more time on her favourite hobby, music.

Peter has a number of pension plans so Mary does not think Peter will need any payment from her pension arrangement if she dies first. However, she is worried about the rising cost of food, heating and day-to-day living, and that her pension won't keep up with inflation.

Hargreaves Lansdown's Head of Advice, Danny Cox,
might suggest:

"An escalating pension appears, at first sight, to be best for Mary. Mary's husband Peter has his own pension to live on so Mary does not need to provide any pension or guarantee if she dies first. Inflation is perhaps the biggest threat to your retirement income as it reduces the spending power of your pension.

Mary should link her pension income to the Retail Prices Index (RPI) so it keeps track with inflation. This means her initial income is lower, but it offers some protection for future buying power."

Choosing your annuity is an important decision which should be considered carefully. This is a fictitious but realistic scenario to help you make your own decisions; it does not constitute a personal recommendation. If you are unsure about the suitability of any aspect you should seek financial advice.

Couple

Meet Rob and Maria

Rob has been working for his employer for many years and has been paying into the company pension all this time. This will form his and Maria's main income in retirement. Maria has a smaller teacher's pension and they will also both receive a State Pension.

He wants to make sure Maria is going to be ok if he dies first. However, he is also worried about running out of money later in life, and if things become a little tight in 10 years' time, he might be too old to do anything about it.

Hargreaves Lansdown's Head of Advice, Danny Cox, might suggest:

"In my view Rob and Maria should consider a joint life, escalating pension. This is the 'Rolls Royce' of pension annuities because it provides both Maria with a pension if Rob dies first and it increases each year to protect against the effects of inflation.

A 50% spouse's pension would mean Maria will continue to be paid half of Rob's pension on his death. Rob's pension will move in line with the Retail Prices Index (RPI) every year, meaning the buying and spending power of his pension should be protected. This is important to Rob as he is worried that, without an increasing pension, the effects of rising prices will bite later in retirement."

Choosing your annuity is an important decision which should be considered carefully. This is a fictitious but realistic scenario to help you make your own decisions; it does not constitute a personal recommendation. If you are unsure about the suitability of any aspect you should seek financial advice.

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Important information

What you do with your pension is an important decision - in the case of an annuity it is irreversible. Therefore, we strongly recommend you understand your options and check they are suitable for your circumstances: take appropriate advice or guidance if you are unsure. Our service is not personal advice. We offer a range of information to help and independent financial advice if requested. Alternatively, Pension Wise, the Government's new pension guidance service, provides a free impartial service to help you understand your options at retirement. It's available at www.pensionwise.gov.uk, by calling 030 0330 1001, or face to face.

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Client case study: £2,500 more income per annum

Mr Coe

Mr Coe enhanced his annuity by £2,500 a year thanks to our online enhanced annuity service.

Read his story

Client case study: Mr Coe, Stockton-on-Tees

Mr Coe

I just wanted to say thank you for the enhanced RPI protected annuity quote received today. Thanks to you for making it so easy I am going to receive an annual sum £2,500 greater than the lowest standard quote, and this is entirely down to your team. I remain hugely impressed with the service you provide.