Single Premium Immediate Annuities

Christian Worstell
In this article...
  • Learn how a Single Premium Immediate Annuity (SPIA) works, its pros and cons and how to purchase one. Find out if single premium annuities are right for you.

A single premium immediate annuity (SPIA) is an insurance product that provides guaranteed income payments in exchange for a lump sum payment upfront.

Are you approaching retirement and considering a single premium immediate annuity as part of your financial plan? If you're considering annuity options, it's critical to comprehend the mechanics, benefits, drawbacks and purchase process for SPIAs and any other type of income annuity you consider.

This article will discuss the details of a single premium immediate annuity, its pros and cons, as well as how to go about purchasing one.

Table of Contents:

What Is a Single Premium Immediate Annuity?

Single premium immediate annuities are a type of retirement income product that provide a guaranteed stream of income for life. SPIAs, with their single-payment setup and quick payout commencement, make them a desirable selection for those looking to supplement other retirement sources such as Social Security.

With SPIAs, the purchaser is essentially exchanging their lump sum payment for a lifetime of regular payments from the insurance company.

The monthly amount an individual receives depends on a variety of elements, such as age when purchased, gender, health condition, interest rates and the original sum invested.

Generally speaking, younger purchasers will receive smaller monthly payments than older purchasers due to increased longevity risk. This also means, however, they may have access to larger overall payouts over time as they age into higher payout brackets.

On the plus side, these products offer a sense of security by guaranteeing lifetime income no matter how long one lives or what market conditions may be at any given time. The same can't be said for most investments such as stocks and mutual funds, which can experience unexpected changes in value without warning.

Furthermore, since SPIAs do not require recurring payments, there are no additional expenses associated with keeping up your policy beyond the original cost when buying it. This means more money stays put rather than going towards superfluous charges like annual management fees.

Key Takeaway: Single premium immediate annuities (SPIAs) provide a secure, long-term stream of income for retirees who exchange their lump sum payment for lifetime payments from an insurance company. This product offers peace of mind and is relatively low cost to maintain. It's important to understand the risks involved before making any decisions, as SPIA contracts are not very flexible nor liquid.

How Does a Single Premium Immediate Annuity Work?

A SPIA is funded with a single lump sum payment. The sum you obtain each month is contingent on aspects like your age, gender, health condition and the prevailing interest rates when you bought your annuity.

To purchase a single premium immediate annuity, simply contact an insurance company directly or work with an independent financial advisor who specializes in these types of products.

When you make the initial investment, you're buying the annuity contract from an insurance company. The annuity contract ensures you receive consistent payments for life, regardless of any external changes in the market. Payments can be selected to occur at any frequency, for example monthly, quarterly or yearly.

Some annuity providers may provide the option for value to be adapted according to inflation in order to maintain a steady buying power.

Make sure whomever you decide upon has experience working with retirees so they can properly assess your individual needs before recommending any specific options available on today’s market place. Different companies may offer varying levels/types coverage, so shop around until finding one that best meets both yours and your family's current financial goals and objectives.

Key Takeaway: By investing a lump sum upfront, you can enjoy guaranteed payments adjusted for inflation and potentially benefit from additional state tax incentives. You can choose different types of payout phases, such as monthly or yearly payments.

Pros and Cons of Single Premium Immediate Annuities

Single premium immediate annuities can provide financial security in several ways:

  • Guaranteed income stream
  • Tax advantages
  • Financial security in retirement
  • Payments remain consistent even if markets fluctuate
  • Potential state tax incentives available

One major benefit of SPIAs is that they offer tax advantages compared to other types of investments because all earnings are tax deferred until withdrawn. In certain cases, state-level tax incentives may be available when investing in a SPIA.

Make sure you research applicable rules with the local taxation authority prior to making any decisions.

One of the primary advantages of investing in a single premium immediate annuity is that it offers guaranteed income for life. This means that even if the markets fluctuate wildly and your investments take a dive, you will still receive your monthly payment regardless.

Another advantage is that with an immediate annuity there is no need to worry about managing or monitoring investments, as all decisions are made upfront when purchasing the policy. Furthermore, since payments begin immediately after purchase, there’s no waiting period required before receiving funds like other investment vehicles such as 401(k)s or IRAs.

Single premium immediate annuities have some disadvantages, such as:

  • No access to principal once invested
  • Cannot adjust payouts after signing contract without penalty fees
  • May require significant upfront capital investment which could limit liquidity elsewhere

Given their specific design for retirement planning, SPIAs typically lack flexibility compared to other types of investments. Once you've taken the plunge and purchased one, there is usually no way to alter or pause the monthly payout without incurring hefty surrender charges.

Furthermore, these products provide little in terms of liquidity should you need access to cash before reaching retirement age. This means if you withdraw funds prematurely, expect substantial penalties as well as potential loss of your initial investment depending on your contract's particular stipulations.

How to Purchase a Single Premium Immediate Annuity

When acquiring a single premium immediate annuity, it is critical to evaluate the contract particulars and compare prices from different annuity providers. Before committing, one should think about some essential components such as whether you want a fixed annuity or a variable annuity.

A fixed annuity guarantees a certain amount of income each month regardless of market performance, while a variable annuities offer more flexibility with potential upside but also greater risk.

It’s also important to understand how payments are made out over time. Most SPIAs offer either annual or monthly payments, so choose one that fits your needs.

Additionally, consider any payout options available. Many policies allow for lump-sum payment upon death to a named beneficiary.

Finally, make sure to check whether taxes apply. SPIAs may be subject to ordinary income tax rates depending on where they were purchased and when payments begin.

Key Takeaway: When shopping for a single premium immediate annuity (SPIA), it's important to compare rates from multiple providers, understand payout options and consider taxes. Consult with a financial advisor or tax professional to ensure the SPIA meets your needs and take advantage of potential benefits like mortality credits.

Single Premium Immediate Annuity FAQs

What is a single premium immediate annuity most often used for?

It provides guaranteed, regular payments for life and can be an effective way to protect against outliving one's savings.

SPIA payouts tend to vary, with older purchasers generally obtaining greater regular installments than younger buyers, based on age and the amount invested. These contracts also offer protection from inflation since they guarantee fixed payments over time.

What are the advantages of a SPIA?

The advantages of SPIAs include immediate cash payments, tax-deferred growth, inflation protection and principal protection from market losses. They also offer lifetime benefits with no need to renew or adjust the terms as you age, and they can be tailored to meet individual needs such as providing survivor benefits or allowing withdrawals in case of an emergency.

What are the tax implications of a SPIA?

The taxation of this annuity type is contingent on the source of funds used to purchase it and whether payments are taken in one lump sum or spread out over time.

Generally speaking, SPIA payments are taxed as ordinary income when they’re received. Any interest earned from these investments, however, may be subject to capital gains taxes.

It’s important to speak with a qualified financial advisor before investing in an SPIA so you can understand all the potential tax consequences associated with your investment.


Take control of your financial future today by researching the benefits available through single premium immediate annuity programs. Utilize our helpful guides to gain a better understanding of government assistance, private insurance plans and other health and financial assistance and age with health, security and peace-of-mind.

Christian Worstell
About the Author

Christian Worstell is a senior Medicare and health insurance writer with He is also a licensed health insurance agent. Christian is well-known in the insurance industry for the thousands of educational articles he’s written, helping Americans better understand their health insurance and Medicare coverage.

Christian’s work as a Medicare expert has appeared in several top-tier and trade news outlets including Forbes, MarketWatch, WebMD and Yahoo! Finance.

While at HelpAdvisor, Christian has written hundreds of articles that teach Medicare beneficiaries the best practices for navigating Medicare. His articles are read by thousands of older Americans each month. By better understanding their health care coverage, readers may hopefully learn how to limit their out-of-pocket Medicare spending and access quality medical care.

Christian’s passion for his role stems from his desire to make a difference in the senior community. He strongly believes that the more beneficiaries know about their Medicare coverage, the better their overall health and wellness is as a result.

A current resident of Raleigh, Christian is a graduate of Shippensburg University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. You can find Christian’s most recent articles in our blog.

If you’re a member of the media looking to connect with Christian, please don’t hesitate to email our public relations team at

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