What is guaranteed retirement income?

2 MIN READ | #blog

People say there are no guarantees in life, but that isn’t necessarily true. Wash your car and it’ll rain the next day. Wrestle a child into a snowsuit and he’ll immediately need a bathroom. It seems like these never fail.

Then there are good guarantees. Like guaranteed income in retirement. If you put together a retirement strategy with financial instruments that provide a reliable stream of income, you can enjoy your non-working years with greater confidence.

So, where do you find guaranteed income in retirement? There are five main sources:

Social security

You already knew about this one. But do you know what Social Security benefits you can expect when you retire? If not, use this calculator. Knowing your number is essential to figuring out your likely income gaps — more on that later.


Employer-paid retirement accounts are rapidly becoming extinct. Up until the 1980s, defined-benefit pensions were the most popular retirement plan offered by employers. Today, only 15% of private-sector workers have access to one.1 If you have one, consider yourself fortunate.

Bonds and CDs

These relatively low-risk savings instruments are often used in a well-rounded retirement portfolio. Their yields are usually more steady than stellar, and they may offer some tax advantages.


An annuity 2 can be a great way to augment your income during retirement. You pay an insurance company a set amount, and they send you regular payments for life, guaranteed. There are many different types from which to choose, such as variable annuities offering tax advantages, retirement income, and the possibility for growth when the market rises.

Whole life insurance

Surprised? You may think of life insurance only in terms of guaranteed death benefits. But there is lots of life in life insurance, too. A whole life policy3 provides guaranteed cash value growth — earnings that you can use to supplement your retirement income.

Your unique income picture

Income from any one of these five sources alone may not be enough to sustain your retirement lifestyle. To bring your retirement numbers into focus, you need to see whether all your sources of income, guaranteed and non-guaranteed alike, will potentially be enough to support the retirement lifestyle you want. You can do this by looking closely at your necessary expenses and bills and determine if your monthly sources of retirement income are greater than that. If you have an income gap, you can work with a financial professional to close it.

There is no one right retirement strategy. However, a strategy that includes one or more sources of guaranteed income can be a sound approach. In fact, 51% of American adults surveyed agree that their number one financial priority is having a guaranteed income in retirement.4

They say money can’t buy happiness. But guaranteed income in retirement can help, and its many benefits extend well beyond finances to increase your emotional and financial confidence now and later in life.

Brought to you by The Guardian Network © 2017, 2020. The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America®, New York, NY

2022-142417 Exp. 08/2024

Not seeing what you’re looking for?

The Guardian Network®

Living Confidently is powered by The Guardian Network.


1 Bureau of Labor Statistics. “National Compensation Survey: Employee Benefits in the United States, March 2021, https://www.bls.gov/ncs/ebs/benefits/2021/employee-benefits-in-the-united-states-march-2021.pdf,” Page 191

2 Annuity guarantees are backed exclusively by the strength and claims-paying ability of the issuing insurance company.

3 While the primary purpose of life insurance is death benefit protection, it is important to understand the advantages that cash value accumulation can provide to clients, including supplemental income during retirement.

4 The Guardian Study of Financial and Emotional ConfidenceTM, 2021