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Apr 13, 2020 by |

California and Marin County Annuity and Financial Elder Abuse Attorney: Understanding Income Riders


How Do Income Riders Work?

Are They Worth It?

Our lawyers recommend you avoid annuities, especially if you’re a senior. Be particularly wary when an agent tries to sell you annuities with “enhanced” features like income riders. Income riders, often sold as “Guaranteed Lifetime Withdrawal Benefits” or “Guaranteed Minimum Income Benefits,” are attachments to annuities that offer annual income payouts for the rest of your life after a holding period has expired.  Carriers charge annual fees for these riders which reduce your return on investment from day one.  If you are over age 60 and reside in California, the California annuity attorneys at Evans Law Firm, Inc. can review your annuity, including income riders, and the policy’s surrender provisions, for free.  Call us today at (415)441-8669 or toll free at 1-888-50EVANS (888.503-8267).

The Costs and Risks of Income Riders

Costs: there’s usually a 1-1.25% annual fee for an income rider. With a rider on a 2% contract your return may be more than cut in half, from day one. Policy withdrawals also impact the benefit of your rider, if not wiping it out entirely, and this hidden cost may also reduce or eliminate any return on your money.


  • Income riders create a “phantom account,” within your annuity on which future income payouts will be based. You can never withdraw the balance in this account. If you die before the policy annuitizes or you terminate the policy, you will not receive a nickel from this income rider account. The annual fees you pay, on the other hand, come out of – and reduce – the accumulation value of the policy which is money out of your pocket.
  • Similarly, you cannot peel off interest from an income rider like you can a CD or bond (leaving the principal there). In an annuity, no interest will be paid to you until the policy is annuitized and once you begin your income draw downs, the income will always be paid to you in scheduled amounts, determined by the carrier’s actuarial tables not your current income needs. Payments are scheduled at inception and do not change as you get older or your circumstances change.
  • Any complete surrender will never include the phantom amount of the income rider “fund.” Instead, you will pay a surrender charge, and any accruals in the separate rider account are forfeited. Any partial surrender of accumulated value will reduce the base on which the income rider “growth” is calculated.
  • You cannot transfer the income rider total to another annuity. If you surrender your contract, any accumulated growth in the income benefit account is lost.
  • Once you start taking income, the annual growth percentage stops.
  • The scheduled income amounts will be taxable to you as ordinary income.

Annuities are complex and policy riders are even more complex. Always consult your tax advisor and a professional with nothing to gain from a sale before purchasing an annuity or making any change or surrender of an existing policy.  If you are over age 60 and reside in California and have already been sold an annuity, we are able to review your annuity at no cost if you believe that you or a loved one were victims of annuity fraud or suffered a financial loss as a result of an income rider or other rider fees, and/or surrender penalties on an unsuitable annuity. 

Leading providers and distributors of life insurance and fixed, variable and fixed indexed deferred annuities in California are listed below. We are not in any way suggesting that any of these carriers or distributors has done anything wrong.  Rather, the list is provided solely as a reference for our readers.

AIG/American General Life Insurance Company

Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America

American Equity Investment Life Insurance Company

American General Life Insurance Company/AIG

American International Group, Inc. (AIG)

American National Life Insurance Company

Athene Annuity & Life Assurance Company

Athene Annuity and Life Company

Athene USA

Aviva Life Insurance Company

AXA Equitable Financial Services, LLC

AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company/AXA US

AXA Advisors, LLC

Brighthouse Financial, Inc./MetLife

EquiTrust Life Insurance Company

Fidelity & Guaranty Life Insurance Company

Genworth Financial, Inc.

Genworth Life and Annuity Insurance Company

Genworth Life Insurance Company

Guggenheim Partners, LLC

Guggenheim Partners/Security Benefit Life Insurance Company

ING USA Annuity and Life Insurance Company

Jackson National Life Insurance Company

John Hancock Life Insurance Company

Lincoln Benefit Life Company

Lincoln Financial Group

Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company

Metlife/Metropolitan Life Insurance Company/Brighthouse Financial, Inc.

Minnesota Life Insurance Company

Nationwide Investor Services Corporation (NISC)

Nationwide Life and Annuity Insurance Company

Nationwide Life Insurance Company

New York Life Insurance Company

Northwestern Mutual Investment Services, LLC

Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company

Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management Company

Pacific Life & Annuity Company

Pacific Life Insurance Company


Security Benefit Corporation

Security Benefit Group, Inc.

Security Benefit Life Insurance Company/Guggenheim Partners

Security Investors, LLC

Security of Denver Life Insurance Company/Voya

Transamerica Life Insurance Company

Voya Financial Advisors

Voya/Reliastar Life Insurance Company

World Financial Group Insurance Agency, Inc.

Contact Us

If you or a loved one has suffered a loss on an income rider, policy surrender, or from other high fees and charges in Marin County or elsewhere in California, contact Ingrid M. Evans and the other Evans Law Firm financial elder abuse and annuity attorneys at (415) 441-8669, toll free at 1-888-50EVANS (888.503-8267), or by email at <a href=””></a>.  Our attorneys have experience with complex financial contracts and large insurance companies.  We can help guide your case through a FINRA arbitration, jury trial or toward an equitable settlement.  We handle cases involving physical and financial elder abuse, qui tam and whistleblower law, nursing home abuse, whole life insurance and universal life insurance, and indexed, variable, and fixed annuities.

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