NU Online News Service, Nov. 29, 10:25 a.m. – The American Academy of Actuaries, Washington, says Congress should think about benefits distributions when evaluating proposals for individual Social Security investment account programs.

“While most Social Security individual account proposals have focused on how benefits should be accrued and invested before retirement, there are equally important questions on how benefits are to be paid,” says Bruce Schobel, chairman of the academy’s social insurance committee, says .

The academy analyzes proposals for voluntary and mandatory annuitization of account assets in a brief for a presidential commission that is studying the individual account concept.

The brief also discusses timing of account balance conversions, the benefits forms that would be used, qualifications for the organizations that would provide the annuities, pricing of the annuities, and taxation of account distributions.

Because annuities are contracts that promise to pay beneficiaries a steady stream of income as long as they live, issues such as post-retirement mortality, survivor benefits, freedom of choice, investment risk and cost-of-living adjustments will have a big effect on the design and cost of an individual account program, the authors of the brief predict.

The academy has posted the brief on its Web site, at http://www.actuary.org/