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Are Annuities the High-Speed Rail of Retirement Plans? (BenefitsPro)

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Plans for a new high-speed rail line between Rochester and Buffalo, N.Y., writes Chris Carosa, are something few people want and even fewer people will use. Like the much-maligned annuity, he continues, it is a solution in search of a problem. Carosa is responding to the IRS’s recent pronouncement that the “longevity annuity” was the answer to America’s retirement crisis; the best way to remove income uncertainty and deliver a fixed income. This proposal, he says, has quite a few holes. For one, it doesn’t solve the problem of a lack of retirement savings. And, from a pension perspective, it is unclear who assumes the liability (is it the investor or the plan sponsor?). Finally, there is the small issue of fees. All reasons, Carosa concludes, why industry pros, plan sponsors and even investors have avoided annuities like the plague.