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Securing Longevity Insurance Through Income Annuities

I have published a few pieces in the past couple weeks on how income annuities are priced and used. Understanding how to use annuities can be a great benefit when planning for retirement. Let’s consider another possibility.

Another option is to consider treating the income annuity as longevity insurance. This involves paying for a deferred income annuity at age 65 and not receiving payments until a much higher age, such as 80 or 85. With a life-only version, this leverages the power of mortality credits, as the more costly nearer-term annuity payments have been removed from the calculus.

In Table 1, the income provided between ages 65 and 84 is $0, so we only need to consider the income provided for ages 85 and beyond. The long period for annuitized assets to grow and earn interest combined with the lower probabilities for surviving to these advanced ages results in the annuity’s cost being dramatically lowered. Table 1 shows a cost of $15,351. Compared to the immediate life-only income annuity, the cost for guaranteed income has fallen almost 90%. The payout rate from this annuity is the income divided by the cost, which has grown to 65.1%.

Longevity insurance is a unique tool for retirement income considering the relatively small amount of assets required for such long-term spending needs. This allows retirees to plan for a fixed horizon until income from the deferred annuity begins.

Table 1: Calculating the Cost of a $10,000 Deferred Income Stream for a 65-Year Old Male (Longevity Insurance, Life Only)

Discount Rate: 2.50%
AgeIncomeDiscount FactorDiscounted Value of IncomeSurvival Probabilities*Survival-Weighted Discounted Value
65$0100.0%$0100.0%$0
66$097.6%$098.9%$0
67$095.2%$097.7%$0
83$064.1%$055.2%$0
84$062.6%$050.5%$0
85$10,00061.0%$6,10345.7%$2,789
86$10,00059.5%$5,95440.9%$2,435
87$10,00058.1%$5,80936.0%$2,092
88$10,00056.7%$5,66731.2%$1,766
89$10,00055.3%$5,52926.5%$1,466
90$10,00053.9%$5,39422.1%$1,190
91$10,00052.6%$5,26218.0%$949
92$10,00051.3%$5,13414.4%$738
93$10,00050.1%$5,00911.2%$562
94$10,00048.9%$4,8878.6%$420
95$10,00047.7%$4,7676.4%$305
96$10,00046.5%$4,6514.7%$217
97$10,00045.4%$4,5383.3%$151
98$10,00044.3%$4,4272.3%$102
99$10,00043.2%$4,3191.6%$67
100$10,00042.1%$4,2141.0%$43
101$10,00041.1%$4,1110.7%$27
102$10,00040.1%$4,0110.4%$17
103$10,00039.1%$3,9130.3%$10
104$10,00038.2%$3,8170.2%$6
Present Value of the Annuity = Sum of Survival-Weighted Discounted Values: $15,351
Annuity Payout Rate:65.1%
*Survival Probabilities are calculated from the IRS Mortality Tables for pension plan valuations.

In practice, deferred income annuities are used to prepay for retirement income, not as longevity insurance. For instance, a 55-year old might purchase a deferred income annuity which will begin income at 65. We have already determined that the cost of a life-only income annuity at 65 is $148,492. If a 55-year male wanted to provide lifetime income starting at 65, we could further discount the price in two ways – by the ability to earn interest for 10 years before income starts, and by the probability that the 55-year old will live to 65.

The discount factor for 10 years of investment growth at 2.5% is 78.1%. The same mortality data also reveals a 94.7% chance that the 55-year old lives to 65. Multiplying these two factors by $148,492 gives us a premium of $109,246 for a deferred income annuity purchased at 55. This represents a 9.15% payout rate.

Pricing for an 85-Year Old Male

We looked at longevity insurance as it applies to a 65-year old male purchasing a deferred income annuity with income starting at 85. We may also consider the alternative of just waiting until age 85 and then buying an immediate annuity. During those 20 years, interest rates and mortality tables can change in unexpected ways, which impacts pricing calculations.

Table 2 shows the calculated cost for this income annuity if we assume that interest rates and mortality data remain the same. An 85-year old will experience higher mortality rates and a shorter time horizon, reducing the cost of an income annuity at this age. In this case, the premium is $55,043, which raises the payout rate to 18.17%.

This payout rate is noticeably higher than that available at age 65, but it is lower than that available with the longevity insurance contract. Longevity insurance carries two key differences here: 20 years of asset growth within the contract, and the discount a 65-year-old receives thanks to his less than stellar chances of living to 85 (less than a 50% chance).

Waiting until 85 to make the purchase means sharing fewer mortality credits with the pool. As with our earlier calculation, if we discount this $55,043 premium by the 45.7% survival probability from age 65 and by 20 years of investment growth at 2.5%, we arrive at the $15,351 premium for the longevity insurance contract.

Table 2: Calculating the Cost of a $10,000 Income Stream for an 85-Year Old Male (Life Only)

Discount Rate: 2.50%
AgeIncomeDiscount FactorDiscounted Value of IncomeSurvival Probabilities*Survival-Weighted Discounted Value
85$10,0001.000$10,000100.00%$10,000
86$10,0000.976$9,75689.48%$8,730
87$10,0000.952$9,51878.82%$7,502
88$10,0000.929$9,28668.19%$6,332
89$10,0000.906$9,06058.02%$5,257
90$10,0000.884$8,83948.28%$4,267
91$10,0000.862$8,62339.45%$3,402
92$10,0000.841$8,41331.45%$2,646
93$10,0000.821$8,20724.57%$2,017
94$10,0000.801$8,00718.81%$1,506
95$10,0000.781$7,81213.99%$1,093
96$10,0000.762$7,62110.19%$777
97$10,0000.744$7,4367.27%$540
98$10,0000.725$7,2545.03%$365
99$10,0000.708$7,0773.40%$241
100$10,0000.690$6,9052.26%$156
101$10,0000.674$6,7361.45%$97
102$10,0000.657$6,5720.91%$60
103$10,0000.641$6,4120.56%$36
104$10,0000.626$6,2550.34%$21
Present Value of the Annuity = Sum of Survival-Weighted Discounted Values: $55,043
Annuity Payout Rate:18.17%
*Survival Probabilities are calculated from the IRS Mortality Tables for pension plan valuations.

Next, read 12 Principles of Intelligent Investors.

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