Money Advice Service

An annuity pays a regular retirement income – usually for life. If you decide to buy a lifetime annuity with your pension pot, a key decision you’ll need to make is whether you want an income just for yourself or one that would continue to pay out to someone else after you die.

Single-life annuity

With a single-life annuity you receive an income until you die – after that the payments stop.

It could therefore be suitable if you have no financial dependants, or if your partner has their own pension arranged, or if they have a shorter life expectancy than you.

The only time the income would continue after you die with a single-life annuity would be if you also opted to have ‘guarantee period’.

Read about guarantee periods in our guide Protecting your retirement income.

Joint-life annuity

A joint-life annuity provides you with an income for life, but then transfers to your spouse, partner or any other chosen beneficiary when you die and pays them a regular income for the rest of their lives.

Or it can be used to pay income to your dependent child, usually until they’re 23.

A joint-life annuity could be particularly suitable if your spouse or partner doesn’t have their own pension arrangements, or if their pension payments won’t be sufficient to meet their financial needs.

When you die, the income paid to the person you choose will be a proportion of the income you were getting just before your death.

You decide on the proportion that will be paid when buying the annuity.

It could , for example, be 100%, two-thirds or half of your retirement income at the time of your death.

However, the higher the proportion you choose, the lower your retirement income will be.

Other annuity options to decide on

As well as choosing between a single or joint-life annuity, you’ll need to decide whether you want your (and any nominated beneficiary’s) income fixed for life or to increase.

See our guide Fixed or increasing annuity income.

There are also extra features you can opt for, such as guaranteeing your income continues for a set period of time after your death.

See our guide Protecting your retirement income.

If you have a medical condition or a poor lifestyle you might qualify for a higher income, called an enhanced annuity.

If you think this might apply to you see our guide Higher retirement income for people with poor health.

Compare lifetime annuity rates

Use our Annuity comparison tables to compare lifetime annuity rates.

To compare how much retirement income you might get from a single or joint-life annuity use our comparison tables below.

They also explain the other choices you need to make about your annuity income and how to decide which might be suitable for you.

Get advice before taking out an annuity

Once you take out an annuity you can’t change your mind – and it’s just one of several options you have for providing a retirement income.

So it’s important to be sure it’s the right choice for you.

For an overview of all of your options and to find out where to get help and advice, including free government-backed guidance from Pension Wise, see our guides below:

This article is provided by the Money Advice Service.