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Pension Plan Retirement Options

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Choosing between pension options can be a difficult task. Choosing an option that guarantees your spouse pension benefits after your death means extra security but also lower monthly benefits. On the other hand, choosing a pension option that only pays through your lifetime can provide larger monthly payments, but requires a lump sum to protect your spouse if she outlives you. Use this calculator to help decide which pension option works best for your particular retirement needs.

Pension Plan Retirement Options Definitions

Current age
Your current age.
Retirement age
Age you are going to retire and begin receiving your pension benefits.
Your life expectancy
Your estimated age of death. This is the age at which Single Annuitant Pension benefits would end.
Spouse age
The current age of your spouse.
Spouse's life expectancy
The estimated age of your spouse's death. This is the age they will no longer require benefits.
Single pension at retirement
The monthly pension payment you will receive if you choose a single annuitant pension.
Joint pension at retirement
The monthly pension payment you will receive if you choose a joint survivorship pension.
Insurance cost per thousand
Your estimated cost of life insurance per thousand dollars of coverage per year. Please note that this is only an estimate, your actual costs can vary considerably depending on your health, sex and age. This calculator assumes that your life insurance has no cash value.
Indexed for COLA
If your pension is indexed for a Cost of Living Adjustment, check this box.
COLA annual adjustment
This is the rate your cost of living increases each year. This is also used if your pension is indexed for a Cost of Living Adjustment. This is what you expect for the average long-term inflation rate. A common measure of inflation in the U.S. is the Consumer Price Index (CPI). From 1925 through 2023 the CPI has a long-term average of 3.0% annually. Over the last 40 years the highest CPI recorded was 13.5% in 1980. For 2023, the last full year available, the CPI was 3.1% annually as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Rate of return on investments
This is the annually compounded rate of return you expect from your investments. The actual rate of return is largely dependent on the types of investments you select. The Standard & Poor's 500® (S&P 500®) for the 10 years ending December 31st 2023, had an annual compounded rate of return of 15.2%, including reinvestment of dividends. From January 1, 1970 to December 31st 2023, the average annual compounded rate of return for the S&P 500®, including reinvestment of dividends, was approximately 10.9% (source: www.spglobal.com). Since 1970, the highest 12-month return was 61% (June 1982 through June 1983). The lowest 12-month return was -43% (March 2008 to March 2009). Savings accounts at a financial institution may pay as little as 0.25% or less but carry significantly lower risk of loss of principal balances.

It is important to remember that these scenarios are hypothetical and that future rates of return can't be predicted with certainty and that investments that pay higher rates of return are generally subject to higher risk and volatility. The actual rate of return on investments can vary widely over time, especially for long-term investments. This includes the potential loss of principal on your investment. It is not possible to invest directly in an index and the compounded rate of return noted above does not reflect sales charges and other fees that investment funds and/or investment companies may charge. For the purposes of this calculator, taxation is not factored into the results. If you pay taxes on the interest, dividends or capital gains from these investments, you may wish to enter your after-tax rate of return.

Cost of insurance per thousand
This is the yearly cost of insurance per thousand dollars of coverage. For example, if you need $500,000 of life insurance coverage and have a cost of $10 per thousand, your annual premium would be $5,000.