AXA Equitable is rolling out a variable annuity that can protect the retirement income of either one holder or of a husband and a wife.

The annuity, the AXA Equitable Retirement Income for Life variable annuity, The annuity contract also provides a potential death benefit for heirs and permits holders to make additional contributions up until the date when they begin taking withdrawals, according to AXA Equitable, New York, a unit of AXA S.A., Paris.

AXA Equitable says it will start off by calculating a Guaranteed Annual Payment, by applying an annual “ratchet” adjustment to the income base. Once established, the GAP amount may increase but will never decrease, unless excess withdrawals are taken, according to AXA Equitable, which is responsible for backing the product guarantees.

The annuity gives the owner immediate access to the funds, and the contract includes a joint spousal lifetime income guarantee, according to AXA Equitable.

The owner can begin taking withdrawals immediately after buying the annuity, and the age of the owner at the time of the first withdrawal will determine the percentage used to calculate the Guaranteed Annual Payment for the life of the contract, AXA Equitable says.

The GAP can increase due to strong market performance that raises the annuity account value above the income base, AXA Equitable says.

The funds in the annuity must be invested in 1 of 5 asset-allocation investment options.

If the owner or second spouse covered by a joint annuity dies, the beneficiary will receive the greater of either the remaining account value or the premiums less withdrawals, AXA Equitable says.