The retirement plan universe has moved from a defined benefit plan focus to a defined contribution plan focus since the 1970s. The 2008 market decline significantly reduced many 401(k) account balances and much thought is now being given to the question of how Americans are going to retire on their now-diminished account balances.

One idea being given an increasing level of attention is annuitizing a portion of the 401(k) account balance. Under this approach, a portion of a 401(k) account balance would be used to purchase an annuity policy to guarantee a stream of income for the participant’s life (or joint lives of the participant and spouse).

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