Advisors Working with Individuals

Retirement Annuities, Group Retirement Annuities, Supplemental Retirement Annuities and Retirement Choice/Retirement Choice Plus Annuities

TIAA-CREF pioneered the use of variable annuity contracts nearly 60 years ago to fund lifetime income solutions, and we've stood nearly alone in the financial community in our commitment to maintain low-cost1, high-quality retirement plans that offer retirement income to individuals.

TIAA-CREF offers retirement plans through the following types of contracts:

Retirement Annuities

A Retirement Annuity (RA) is an individual contract issued to each plan participant. It is used primarily for employer-sponsored retirement plans. Depending on the terms of the employer’s plan, RA plan premiums can be paid by the employer, employee or both. If the employee pays some or all of the premiums, contributions can be either pre-tax through salary reduction, or after-tax through payroll deduction. Additionally, the employer may permit making contributions in an after-tax Roth IRA style, although the employee would not receive a tax deduction. An RA is designed to be completely portable if the individual changes jobs.

The employer’s plan rules determine which investment and income options are available. Employees then invest their funds among the available investment options. They can also change how the new premiums are allocated, or move funds from one investment to another. They can also transfer accumulations from other investment choices under the employer’s plan to the RA contract.

Group Retirement Annuities

Group Retirement Annuities (GRAs) are similar to RAs. The main difference is that while RA premiums are paid either by the employer, employee or both, GRA premiums can be paid only by the employer. GRA premiums can be from pre-tax or after-tax contributions. Accumulations can be transferred from other investment choices under the employer’s plan to the GRA contract. Unlike the RA contract, the GRA certificate is not portable if the employee changes jobs.

Supplemental Retirement Annuities

Many institutions that offer RA contracts also offer supplemental plans known as Supplemental Retirement Annuities (SRAs). SRAs are voluntary tax-deferred annuities (TDA) through which an employee contributes money for retirement in addition to the basic retirement plan offered by the employer. Contributions are taken directly from the employee’s salary and thus reduce taxable income. Taxes on potential earnings are deferred until withdrawn as income in retirement. The employer may permit making contributions in an after-tax Roth IRA style, although the employee would not receive a tax deduction.

Group Supplemental Retirement Annuities

Like SRAs, Group Supplemental Retirement Annuities (GSRAs) are tax-advantaged investments funded with voluntary, pre-tax dollars through a salary reduction agreement between the employee and employer. The key difference is that SRA contracts are issued directly to the employee, while GSRA contracts are issued via an agreement between the employer and TIAA-CREF.

Group Annuity (GA) and Institutionally Owned GSRAs

These are used exclusively for employer retirement plans and issued directly to the employer or the plan’s trustee. The employer pays premiums directly to TIAA-CREF. The employer or the plan’s trustee may control the allocation of contributions and transfers to and from these contracts. If a GA or Institutionally Owned GSRA contract is issued pursuant to the plan, the plan’s rules regulate transfers and withdrawals, receiving annuity income or death benefits, and the timing of payments.

Retirement Choice/Retirement Choice Plus Annuities

These plans work similarly to GRAs and GSRAs, respectively. The main difference is that, unlike GRAs, they are issued directly to the employer or the plan’s trustee. Among other rights, the employer may transfer accumulations under these contracts to alternate funding vehicles.

Receiving retirement income

We are committed to helping employees to and through retirement. As such, we offer several ways to receive regular retirement income from TIAA-CREF accounts. While we believe that receiving at least some income through a life annuity2 helps ensure that an individual’s assets last a lifetime, we offer a number of other options including interest-only payments, minimum distributions, systematic withdrawals, and single-sum distributions, subject to the rules of the contract and the employer's plan. Learn more about Retirement Plan Income Options .

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