Guaranteed income benefit?


Q. I anticipate retiring within the next six to 12 months with 34 years of service and a projected $350,000 Thrift Savings Plan balance (diversified in the L Fund). In the latest meeting with my financial adviser, he recommended that, upon retirement, I consider taking a portion of my TSP balance and purchasing a product that would guarantee an income stream at a minimum percentage of growth over time regardless of the bond or stock market performance. He called it a GWIB (??) He pointed out that there are numerous products to choose from and they all offer different benefits. In general, can you offer any advice regarding these products?

A. Be careful not to confuse a sales pitch with advice. The two are not equivalent. Advice implies the primacy of your interests, while a sales pitch is motivated by furthering the interest of others at your expense. It would be foolish to trust the advice of a salesperson in making such an important decision. It would also be foolish to commit to something you clearly don’t understand. Just say no to propositions like this unless and until a competent analysis of all of your options clearly proves it to be in your best interests. I can’t count the number of clients I’ve worked for who regret committing to abusing financial products with the benefit of hindsight.


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Mike Miles is a Certified Financial Planner licensee and principal adviser for Variplan LLC, an independent fiduciary in Vienna, Virginia. Email your financial questions to and view his blog at

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