Retirement insights from a Colorado PERA perspective

Inside Colorado PERA

PERA Offering New Lifetime Income Options to DC Plan Participants

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In 2019, Congress passed sweeping legislation known as the SECURE Act that ushered in some major changes in retirement plans. One of those changes was making it easier for employer-sponsored plans like 401(k)s to offer annuities to plan participants.

Since then, consumer interest in annuities has grown, and 2020 saw the highest annuity sales in over a decade, totaling nearly $255 billion.

PERA now has two annuity products to offer participants in the PERAPlus 401(k), 457 and DC plans.

What is an annuity?

Simply put, an annuity is a financial product that provides guaranteed, regular payments — either for a fixed amount of time or for a person’s life. PERA’s Defined Benefit (DB) plan and Social Security are both annuities that provide a lifetime retirement benefit.

While PERA’s DB plan offers lifetime income in retirement, workers who save on their own in a defined contribution plan like a 401(k) risk running out of savings in retirement. Annuities, which are usually available for purchase through insurance companies, can help offset this risk by converting all or a portion of a person’s account balance into regular income. Like a pension, annuities collect or “pool” assets from a large number of individuals in order to provide each person with guaranteed payments.

There are many types of annuities with a variety of features, but PERA, through its partner Empower, is able to offer two types of annuities for participants in the PERAPlus 401(k), 457 and DC plans: A single premium fixed immediate annuity and Qualified Longevity Annuity Contracts (QLACs).

Single premium fixed immediate annuity

Empower’s parent company Great-West Life & and Annuity Insurance Company offers a single premium fixed immediate annuity through the PERAdvantage Capital Preservation Fund within the PERAPlus 401(k)/457 and DC plans. This allows participants to use all or a portion of their account balance to make a one-time purchase that immediately converts to guaranteed payments. The participant can choose the frequency of the payments as well as how long they’ll continue.

This annuity can be a good option for plan participants who are entering retirement and are ready to start receiving income right away.

QLAC marketplace

Plan participants who want to wait until later in retirement to begin collecting payments can take advantage of the Qualified Longevity Annuity Contract (QLAC) marketplace offered by Blueprint Income.

While an immediate annuity provides income right away, a QLAC is a deferred annuity that is designed to begin providing income after age 72, and as late as 85. QLACs are exempt from IRS required minimum distribution (RMD) rules, so they can be a good option for retirees who wish to reduce their RMDs and taxes between the ages of 72 and 85.

Blueprint Income facilitates the rollover of the purchase amount from the participant’s retirement account into the annuity option the participant chooses.

Both annuity options provide retirees the ability to turn their savings into reliable income, and both offer joint annuity options, which can provide income to a surviving spouse. While an annuity might not be the right fit for everyone, it can be a helpful tool in planning for one’s golden years.

For more information on these annuity options, visit

Defined benefitA mandatory retirement savings plan in which a participant’s future benefits are known or can be calculated, but contributions are subject to adjustments. Defined contributionA voluntary plan in which participants can save pre-tax income for retirement. Contributions are “defined” by the employee, but the future benefit is not guaranteed.


  1. Terri says:

    What is PERA doing to help those who did not have an option for any of these options. When I was working the option was to buy years to increase your retirement income. Our COLA has been decreased steadily by lowering the percentage and completely taking it away for several years. What is PERA doing to keep current retirees whole. Social Security is doing a better job for the retired than PERA.

    • Edward C Quintrall says:

      The term COLA has nothing to do with the cost of living. It is merely a dividend, should the employer decide to pay its share and the market does well.. The history of PERA solves the employers short term economic issues out of the pockets of the retirees and make up the long term issues by increasing the active members contribution.

    • Jim McGannon says:

      I disagree. PERA is one of the best plans in America and we are very blessed to have it. I have been in it since 2008 and have had nothing but a good experience with the Association

      • Mitch says:

        If you were a retiree like me that’s been with this outfit since 1980 you would be singing a different tune. You’re getting good service because you’re considered a contributing asset. Retiree’s on the other hand are considered a liability. Hense the term retirement reform and our slow financial demise.
        By the way; you’re welcome.

  2. Nancy Higgins says:

    What are the fees for both annuity types?
    This is important because annuities are insurance products and the fees can be very high!

    • Edward C Quintrall says:

      The term COLA has nothing to do with the cost of living. It is merely a dividend, should the employer decide to pay its share and the market does well.. The history of PERA solves the employers short term economic issues out of the pockets of the retirees and make up the long term issues by increasing the active members contribution.

    • Annoymous says:

      I would be very careful with Empower. Empower is an insurance company and retirement is just a side business for them. Empower put my information in incorrectly and I started getting letters. I went into their system and my information was correct–someone probably data entered wrong. Tried to call them. They have a voice system that recognizes nothing. The first time it hung up on me. The second time they sent me a code and when I put it in, I got sent to the survey. I sent a message to PERA who just ignored it. I finally got into their system and moved my money. When I moved my money they sent information to the correct email, but still am getting letters that my email in not correct (and I am supposed to trust them with my money). I used to think the people at PERA were great, but recently they seem to just not care and do not want to help people.

    • PERA On The Issues says:

      Hi Nancy, for more information on the single premium fixed annuity, please call Empower at 833-4-COPERA (833-426-7372). For more information on the QLAC options available through Blueprint Income, please visit

  3. Pamela Wiebelhaus says:

    I received a letter from Empower that they could not reach me via email. The letter looked cheap and I thought it was a scam. I replied that PERA had no problem sending me emails. Now I have a letter to call them to give them my information. What more do they need? They have my address and can obtain my email address from PERA. Second letter looked as unprofessional as the first. I also question how a company that spends money to put their name on a sports venue will invest my money wisely. Maybe it is time to withdraw my VIP account (original name) from the hands of PERA.

  4. Chris Wilkinson says:

    Once again, while offering options to our members seems like a great idea, it appears to me that any option that lures member contribution away from our defined benefits option contributes to our unfunded liability.

  5. Stacy Dorian says:

    How about offering an option to purchase or fund an annuity out of personal savings? I would really like to start an annuity but I will not touch my DB $$

    • PERA On The Issues says:

      Hi Stacy, the above annuity options are available to anyone with a PERAPlus 401(k), 457 or DC Plan account and do not affect your DB Plan account.

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