Period Certain

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DEFINITION of 'Period Certain'

An annuitization-method option with which the annuitant selects a specific time period for which the annuity income payments will last. This is unlike the more commonly selected life option, with which the annuitant receives an income payment for the rest of his or her life, regardless of how long (or short) their retirement years end up lasting.

BREAKING DOWN 'Period Certain'

By selecting the period-certain annuitization option, the annuitant is usually able to receive a higher monthly payment than with the life option. This extra income comes with a price though: the risk that the annuity payments will run out before the annuitant's death. For example, say a 65-year-old annuitant decided to start receiving payments from his or her annuity, and chose a 15-year period-certain payout option. This would provide him or her with a retirement income until the age of 80. Should the annuitant die at or before age 80, this option would not present a problem, but should he or she be expected to live longer than 80 years and not have another source of retirement income, this option could prove too risky.

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