People who are nearing retirement face a volatile stock market on the one hand and historically low returns on their savings on the other. Fixed annuities offer a guaranteed stream of income, but often come with high fees. Meanwhile, people who pay a lump sum for an annuity and die soon after lose the cash they invested. Economist Brett Hammond of TIAA-CREF discusses how an annuity can fit into a diversified portfolio, and some pitfalls to avoid.

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