Perhaps your biggest decision is what to do with the money in your retirement plan—such as a 401(k) or 403(b). Your employer may allow you to stay in the plan after you retire, which has pluses and minuses that your advisor can explain.
Here are your other basic choices.
GET A LUMP SUM
You can get your money right away in a lump sum
, but in most cases you’ll have to pay income tax on the full amount in the year received. If you’re under age 59½, there may also be a 10% premature distribution penalty. You can defer the income tax by rolling the distribution into a traditional IRA
ROLLOVER TO AN IRA
This is one of the most popular strategies. Rolling your money into a traditional IRA moves it from your employer’s control to yours. You can manage it any way you want. Keep in mind that you must start taking required minimum distributions at age 70½.
RECEIVE REGULAR PAYMENTS
Retirement plans usually let you receive regular monthly or quarterly payments. You decide how much you want to receive. The downside is the payments aren’t guaranteed to last as long as you live, which some annuities do guarantee.
PURCHASE AN ANNUITY
You can also receive regular payouts by purchasing an annuity with all or part of your retirement plan balance. Some annuities guarantee you’ll receive payouts for the rest of your life. This may be a good option if you’re concerned about outliving your income. Some annuities also have a built-in “pay raise” to help you keep pace with inflation.
Guarantees and benefits are subject to the claims-paying ability of Symetra Life Insurance Company.