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Problems With TIAA-Cref

This article was written by in Investing. 1,309 comments.


Apparently I was not the only person having problems with TIAA-Cref.

When I contacted the company to report my missing contribution, the customer service representative was very helpful and assured me the account would be adjusted. I had complete confidence, and when I checked my account yesterday, the deposit had been made and backdated. My minor situation was resolved to my satisfaction.

Do you have any thoughts about TIAA-Cref? Read the over 400 comments below and leave your own if you have an experience with TIAA-Cref to share.

Updated March 7, 2011 and originally published January 11, 2006. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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Luke Landes, also known as Flexo, is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about him and follow Luke Landes on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 1309 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar ethicwatch March 21, 2014 at 2:27 pm

For those interested in getting a better understanding of the group annuity options sec.gov/Archives/Edgar/data1364783/0001… very informative.

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avatar Pat March 21, 2014 at 2:37 pm

Can you reprint this link ? Doesn’t seem to work ?

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avatar ethicwatch March 21, 2014 at 6:31 pm

I tried to go back but I have the search information this was a sample group annuity contract used as an exhibit for an SEC inquiry. I don’t see why TIAA wouldn’t't supply a blank or specific document from a employer plan 800-842-2733 TIAA. http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1364783/00011932509085273/dex994el.htm. This is the insurance policy that governs lifetime income and other options. Group Flexible Premium Deferred Annuity, Fixed and Variable Accumulations non participating.

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avatar ethicwatch March 22, 2014 at 7:35 am

The TIAA group annuity is tied to a annuity purchase fund. The policyholder is the employer. There is an age attained payout based on a one-life with 10 year guaranteed period beginning at when the employee has completed years and months. The basis used for a single premium immediate annuity is included in section b. The payout sample begins at age 45. The employer policy determines age attained to receive full benefits. How many participants are made aware of the terms outlined in the group annuity which cover annuitization for lifetime income from TIAA. S
o the participant can choose a annuity start date, but the total payout is released at the age attained determined in the policy held by the employer, the participant thus begins with a single premium immediate annuity from investment accounts annuitize until they reach “age attained”. This seems worse than the Vermont professors lawsuit. Participants own there accumulations once vested. The application should serve as a written request to change the annuity date.

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avatar ethicwatch March 23, 2014 at 7:56 pm

Lifetime income request is a distribution so in 1991 aftertax annuities from frozen accounts are available. It appears a decision was made to use accumulations in the lifetime annuitization process. The annuitants decides the amount of accumulation to annuitize for lifetime income, immediate annuities are purchased, single life annuities, this prolongs/ protects the general account and the employer accounts. In the past annuitization for lifetime income was directly from the general account. This process uses the participants monies to the benefit of TC and the employer at the participants expense. This is probably unethical and illegal.

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avatar The Wizard March 23, 2014 at 11:26 pm

Unethical fer shur.
Ethicswatch is 100% right.
Always take your proceeds in straight cash.
Anything else is robbery…

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avatar ethicwatch March 24, 2014 at 7:42 am

In our contracts and certificates from TIAA and CREF there is a exclusivity benefit clause the benefits are for the exclusive benefit of participant, beneficiaries. In the documents plus the plan document there is language that states “no amount held under the plan will benefit the Plan Sponsor, any employer, the Plan Administrator. It will be impossible at anytime for plan assets to be used for or diverted to purposes other than the exclusive benefit of participants, beneficiaries and alternate payees.” There is also language that states “no third party beneficiaries”. So I raise objection to the single life immediate annuity used in the lifetime income annuity process. One-life and two life payment come from the general account of TIAA. This is the guaranteed insurance product. For any questions about your immediate annuities related to lifetime income or fixed period contact the Insurance Planning Center for TCLife which handles aftertax annuities at 877-825-0411. Note: TCLife doesn’t have its own employees they share employees with TIAA CREF, I personally believe it exists only to prolong monies being taken from the general account for lifetime income payments.

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avatar ethicwatch March 25, 2014 at 1:32 pm

In your payout directory there is a statement related to the immediate annuity ” rates applicable to Investment Account accumulations transferred to immediately provide an annuity Benefit Purchase amount from the Traditional Annuity. Accumulations are transferred from a separate account to the Traditional Annuity to purchase an annuity involving life contingencies with benefits beginning immediately, the resulting benefit purchase amount from the Traditional Annuity will be determined on whichever of these basis produces the smallest benefit purchase amount.” ” the basis in use for any single premium immediate annuities being offered by TIAA for contracts of the same class as this contract.” Which supports the use of aftertax annuities in the fixed period and lifetime annuitization process.
The impact depends on the group annuity language of the employer plan.

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avatar Linda March 24, 2014 at 1:39 pm

Are the “Wealth Managers” paid by TIAA-CREF? Do they pay TIAA-CREF for access to the investors? Or, is neither true?

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avatar The Wizard March 25, 2014 at 9:35 am

Wealth Management Advisors (WMAs) are full-time TIAA-CREF employees with at least a few years experience at the company, perhaps a decade or more. My WMA “Ed” handled the thousand or so employees at my former employer, though I think they focus mainly on folks with $500,000 or more in T-C. He worked out of a local T-C office in the Boston area.
When it comes time to consider retirement payout options, “Ed” has a team of helpers at the various large offices to facilitate paperwork. Mine was “Brad” in Charlotte…

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avatar Linda March 25, 2014 at 10:24 am

Wizard,
Thank you. You seem knowledgeable so, I’d like to impose on you for a follow-up question.
In response to my questions to the WMA, about the amount, of the TIAA-CREF credit, for participants, that the plan administrator (a public university) kept in fees, he quoted the TIAA-CREF “Relationship Manager”, as saying the issue of disclosure of fees was left to the university (who have shown an unwillingness to disclose). Since TIAA-CREF’s interests are theoretically aligned with investors and they know or can deduce the fees, can you speculate on why they weren’t forthcoming with the information? The letter I received from TIAA-CREF asked me to confirm the amount of credit I received was correct, and I don’t have any information on which to base a reply, what would you do?
It’s a disappointing practice, for a company, with trust, as a selling point, yes?

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avatar Sam March 25, 2014 at 5:06 pm

Linda, I couldn’t agree with you more. The issue with WMA’s is that they are told to give the impression that they are salaried and objective when, in fact, a significant portion of their compensation is based on their ability to entice existing TC clients to move more of their money into TC specifically the managed products. Obviously, this is designed to generate higher fees and ergo revenue for the company. The concern that i have is that the objectivity and subsequently the trustworthiness of the Advisors at TC is called into question. It seems that they are indeed “selling” rather than offering a service, as they represent.

S

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avatar Linda March 26, 2014 at 8:59 am

Sam,
Thank you for the clarity.
All of my questions about TIAA began this fall. I asked the WMA why the TIAA Institute paired with the vice-president of the Arnold Foundation, to co-write research that undermines pensions. The WMA wrote back that he would ask someone inside the company.
Employees think of themselves, as inside a company, yes?

avatar The Wizard March 26, 2014 at 12:20 pm

I believe Sam is correct in that WMAs do get additional compensation related to retained assets under management. That tends to make sense from the company’s perspective and isn’t totally evil.
Nowhere has TIAA-CREF ever claimed to be a charitable organization.
They also have some sort of Investment Management service that I could opt into for an additional fee, but I (obviously) said no to that…

avatar The Wizard March 26, 2014 at 12:15 pm

I’ve never been employed by T-C, I’m just a long-term participant. And at my institution, T-C was and still is the only choice of retirement plan, so it’s not like I could have chosen to put everything in Vanguard (where I have my Roth IRA) instead.
That being said, I’ve never worried about any “fees” my employer may have had to pay T-C to administer the plan there.
My focus has been more on the net total return of my investments with them, that’s all…

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avatar ethicwatch March 26, 2014 at 3:21 pm

The real question is how much are sponsors paid for administrative services? Do these fees serve as a justification to institute New products that encourage asset retention? Wealth Management could be in direct conflict with IRC rules that govern retirement plans. Then there is the possibility that wealth management could step on the spirit and intent of “exclusive benefit” of participants and beneficiaries. Also some participants with wealth managers might experience diminished mental capacity and not understand the strategies employed. So wealth management as it relates to this company might require a review by the regulators. The recent settlements support such scrutiny.

avatar Sam March 26, 2014 at 1:02 pm

LInnda absolutely the WM Advisors are employed by TC that is why, in my opinion, have a conflict. There is the opportunity for you as a participant to have an advisor from another firm provide you professional advice about the money that you have at TC and leave the money in the plan….and yes you do have the opportunity in some plans to use other funds. Either way I would encourage you to seek objective outside advice. TC claims that their WM advisors are objective but I fail to see that since they are paid both salary and commission based on what products they sell to TC clients…specifically they get more if they move clients to a TC product. Seems a bit incestuous!

Hope this helps.

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avatar The Wizard March 26, 2014 at 1:16 pm

Now hold on, Sam. It should be clear to anyone that employees of an investment company are going to work for the interest of the company to some degree, no?

I do believe that they do NOT receive “commissions” from new purchases similar to front-end loads on old-style mutual funds. Rather, they get some sort of “bonus” based on asset retention, so that if I move $500K from T-C to Vanguard, my WMA takes a small hit for that.

The main purpose from MY point of view of having a WMA is to FACILITATE transactions with T-C. So that instead of trying to start some sort of monthly payment, RMD, or annuity payout on my own, I tell my WMA what I want and he/she makes sure I get the proper forms to do what I want in a timely manner.

My WMA has given me “personalized” investment recommendations based on some sort of Ibbotson analysis, but I did not like it and threw it out. Better to have your own independent Financial Analyst, whether yourself or someone else, not an employee of Vanguard, Fidelity, or TIAA-CREF…

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avatar ethicwatch March 26, 2014 at 3:25 pm

I do believe TIAA is a stock insurance company with CREF as the investment arm. The main purpose of these companies is retirement income.

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avatar The Wizard March 27, 2014 at 12:11 am

That was their original purpose starting in 1918, yes, but they’ve broadened out a lot since then, for better or worse…

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avatar ethicwatch March 27, 2014 at 10:42 am

Our contracts and certificates from public employer plans are simply stated and reflective of the original mission, the payout process is reflective of the expanded mission of asset retention within the employer accounts and the TIAA General fund.

avatar ethicwatch March 26, 2014 at 3:36 pm

They could develop a computer-based system to handle supplying proper forms bypassing the bonus seeking wealth manager/ advisors. Facilitating the needs of participants should be foremost avoiding any artificial class distinctions. Maybe there should be another subsidiary for wealth management eligible participants. Wizard, if you receive extra attention for being an official cheerleader good for you, you provide some inside information most participants would not otherwise be exposed.

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avatar The Wizard March 27, 2014 at 12:14 am

Official cheerleader? Well, I’d need extra payment for that.
I just paid into T-C for 41 years, that’s all.
And now I’m in the withdrawal phase.
Alzheimer’s hasn’t set in yet, so I’m still rather lucid and able to deal with written instructions in English…

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avatar R Parker April 14, 2014 at 6:39 pm

Wizard,
I am so glad I found the site and your comments. It is so basic, but I have been paralyzed from retiring, I have not been able to contact an independent Financial Analyst to compare the spiel I got from TIAA-CREF’s WMA regarding rolling my outside funds into TIAA-CREF. Because I have more than $500K in TIAA, they said I was receiving this investment review as a special benefit.

How do I find a good, unbiased independent FA? Thanks a million.

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avatar Lester April 14, 2014 at 6:45 pm

R Parker,
Seriously consider whether you want to roll your funds into or out of TIAA-CREF. Don’t trust them. Their employees get paid to stop the outflow of money, including yours. “Special benefit” ? Ha. More like trying to make you feel good about them so you won’t roll out. Don’t buy it.

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avatar Lazarus March 26, 2014 at 1:26 pm

If T-C employees do get some sort of “bonus” based on asset retention, then it makes perfect sense why my order to move out my funds was ignored, why they delay and delay in responding to any order to move out funds. Sounds like conflict with the interests of the participant big time.

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avatar The Wizard March 27, 2014 at 12:09 am

Yes it does.
The more fish they keep in the net, the better it is for them.
You got that part right…

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avatar ethicwatch March 27, 2014 at 7:27 am

When TC ventured outside of providing retirement income to participants they ended up in the “not admitting any wrongdoing” sphere where multimillion dollar settlements have become their norm. Asset retention is the common thread in recent disputes that resulted in settlements. These settlements fly in the face of the collective exclusive benefit. It’s our retirement monies be very careful. I believe the next big dispute is over the use of after tax monies in the payout process. Lifetime and fixed period payouts begin with immediate annuities from separate accounts, single or Joint life annuity. Lifetime income annuity is one or two life from the TIAA General fund. The bottom line is asset retention at the expense of annuitants and beneficiaries. This undermines the intent of exclusive benefit in the individual and group contracts and certificates “no amount under the plan will benefit the Plan Sponsor, any employer, the Plan Administrator, it will be impossible at anytime for plan assets to be used for or diverted to purposes other than the exclusive benefit of participants, beneficiaries and alternate payees.”

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avatar Linda March 27, 2014 at 8:53 am

Ethicswatch,
Your comments are perceptive. What is the source of the final sentence quote about diversion? When a plan administrator fee is reasonable, there’s no need for secrecy?

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avatar ethicwatch March 29, 2014 at 4:07 pm

The language is in your contracts/certificates, group and supplemental policies, state legislation for defined contribution plans.

avatar ethicwatch March 26, 2014 at 8:04 pm

We need the actual group,ra and gsra policies on the employer website with participant access through the TC secure website. Access to the policies will assist in fully understanding the specifics of the benefits the premiums provide.

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avatar Pat March 26, 2014 at 11:53 pm

I agree 100% with your comment. ERISA already requires that information is to be provided in accurate and comprehensive language. Yet for some reason TIAA fails to comply with Federal regulations. They have been fined, lost their most recent lawsuit yet continue to deny any wrongdoing. What will it take to get them to adhere to the law ?

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avatar ethicwatch March 27, 2014 at 10:32 am

The company’s “wall street” elite really thinks they are operating a private hedge fund, retirement is the annoying “side” business.

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avatar ethicwatch April 4, 2014 at 3:24 pm

There is an article September 6, 1989 issue of the Chronicle of Higher Ed “Ruling clears way for major changes in College Pensions, SEC approves settlement of fight between TIAA CREF and Critics by Carolyn J. Mooney. You can Google. The agreement should be in SEC archives. The 10 year TPA was a part of the agreement, they did not include the language as an amendment to the contracts maybe it’s in contracts issued after 1989.

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avatar Linda March 27, 2014 at 9:11 pm

The “TIAA-CREF Charter defines its purpose or charitable mission as: To forward the cause of education and promote the welfare of the teaching profession and other charitable purposes…” Boards and management who fail to act in a manner, consistent with the company’s mission, should be replaced.
Public universities, act more like “for-profits”, when they stockpile contributions, building billion dollar endowments. The politically and economically driven, privatization of public universities, will (1) open the endowment coffers to hedge fund owners and (2) eliminate the university competition for investment opportunities. Privatization, then, kills two birds with one stone for the money guys. It should be clear to everyone, what will happen to the existing, university endowment managers.
It’s estimated that Bill Gates spent $2 billion in the past two years, for corporate reform of public education. Then, last week Microsoft and Pearson announced a plan to partner to develop the curriculum for the new plan.
Protections in copyright laws, provide corporations with a monopoly business opportunity for (1) product sales to schools and (2) the sale of data, mined from the profiling and testing of students.
My recommendation is, instead of donations to universities, pay it forward, and give money to the Center for Media and Democracy, so that the next generation has a chance. Or, give your money to politicians who are working for the people, like Elizabeth Warren. Your money may offset PAC donations from financial firms.

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avatar ethicwatch March 30, 2014 at 11:05 am

Reviewing my TIAA contract and Cref certificates item 36. Correspondence and Requests for Benefits. “No notice, application, form, premium payment, or request for benefits will be deemed recieved by us unless it is received at our home office”. All benefits are payable at our home office” TIAA, 730 Third Ave, NY 10017 this is for lifetime payouts, fixed period and interest payments” my contracts are from 1991. Did this language remain in newer contacts? “No other person or institution is a party to this certificate”. You…May have CREF pay the value of some or all your Accumulation Units to TIAA for the purchase of a fixed dollar contract. Where are these payout particulars shared with participants on the information packed TIAA website? This should be a popup. For certain payout options you must contact the TIAA home office in NY in writing. If you want to change your annuity date you must contact TIAA in writing in the NY Office. Does this mean that my payout remains in immediate annuities until I the contract/certificateholder contacts TIAA in writing to support my preferences noted on my lifetime annuity authorization application which starts the process? The authorization application says onelife in a smaller font then Single Life in a larger font then joint life. They really need to coordinate the language on all documents for consistency. What happens if you don’t send a written request for a payment option to TIAA NYC. This is for monies taken from the general fund and tiaa access accounts I guess.

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avatar Pat March 30, 2014 at 11:28 am

This is a perfect example of how TIAA makes it difficult to understand your distribution options. My TIAA contract makes no mention of a cash withdrawal option, and the University’s plan refers back to the non-informative TIAA contract. Thus you are forced to contact TIAA and are at the mercy of verbal information from their questionable customer reps. I agree that TIAA should clearly provide written information as to a particular annuitant’s distribution options and ERISA requires it. Perhaps if enough people complained to FINRA or the SEC things will change.

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avatar zkeith March 30, 2014 at 3:00 pm

Pat, this is exactly why I’ve mentioned several times on this board that using TIAA-CREF’s messaging feature is much better than using the phone. First, one seems to get responses from knowledgeable representatives, you have a written record of the response, and you have a person to whom you can attribute the response. I’ve been very pleased with the message service. The downside is that you may not get a response for 48 hours according to the message instructions, but I generally get a response in 24 hours or so. And if you need additional information, you can contact that person again unlike when one uses the phone. Try it; I think you will like it.

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avatar ethicwatch March 30, 2014 at 3:44 pm

The individual contracts/ certificate state the options covered by the group and supplemental policies between TIAA and CREF with your employer. The Transfer Payout Annuity, minimum distribution are not included. On the SEC website Edgar Search Results there is a copy of each policy for each retirement plan, maybe the withdrawal language is simply started in the employer/policyholder documents. “the policyholder and TIAA can amend the agreement without consent of any other person provided such change does not reduce the benefit”. Maybe the policy governing your plan has withdrawal language or age attainment for others which is not in an individual’s contract/ certificate. I want the employer policy on the website with the Plan Summary. Participants purchase retirement benefits therefore these are consumer financial instruments/ benefits.

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avatar The Wizard March 30, 2014 at 8:13 pm

Cryin out loud, EW, are you trying to make things difficult?
I coulda shredded my fricking T-C contract paperwork and it wouldn’t matter a whit.
We’re in the Interactive Age now, OK? Logon to your account, get your daily balance.
Email your WMA and arrange a payout scheme.
There are no handcuffs involved anymore…

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avatar ethicwatch March 30, 2014 at 8:45 pm

We are a nation of laws and contracts, we should read and understand. Wizard most participants are under employer plans, the employer is the policyholder. Most participants choose fixed period payouts. Lifetime income participants is lower, these are insurance products issued by TIAA, the contract/certificate language is simple. These payout should be easy and totally supported by technology, no need for a WMA. We are members of the higher ed community, reading is second nature I hope my comments bring clarity. Annuitization is irreversible.

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avatar Pat March 30, 2014 at 11:35 pm

Why would you shred your contract when that is the determinate document as to how you receive your distributions ? Why would you rely on on a WMA who may or may not have your best interests or who may or may not provide you with accurate verbal information ? I agree this is the interactive age so I should be able to access my account, look at my particular distribution options and choose. Instead I am referred to the employer plan that refers to the TIAA contract that in turn does not contain all available distribution options ? And why are there asterisks on the website referring to allegedly more information, yet no matching additional info is provided? Benefits are federally mandated to be clear and comprehensive. Instead we get a circular catch-22 game that for reasons known only to TIAA fail to clearly spell out the actual benefits.

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avatar The Wizard April 2, 2014 at 11:33 am

I’m not actually going to shred all my T-C contracts going back to the mid-1970s, but they are largely obsolete with the passage of time and were never intended to be a User’s Guide to income in retirement.
For instance, after 9/11/2001, T-C decided it was a good idea to have multiple full-up corporate locations; all my paperwork comes from Charlotte, not the New York mentioned in the contracts.
And as you mention yourself, their web interface continues to become more functional as time goes on…

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avatar ethicwatch April 2, 2014 at 9:17 am

This week for the first time in months you can access the forms to receive lifetime retirement income. There is a 6/13 date in the lowest left side of the contract. Which means anyone seeking lifetime income used the old totally messy form. The new form covers gra, ra, stable value. Unlike the old forms, the new form clearly starts with Single Life, I believe all lifetime payouts begin with immediate annuities. There is a explanation about the impact of vintages on the final payout. The employer confirmation information is clearer, you still can’t access and complete from the website.

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avatar ethicwatch April 2, 2014 at 9:36 am

You can complete the form from the web. The new form does not include fixed period information, this caused a lot of confusion for participants. There is probably a specific form for fixed period. I bet there is no reference to vintages on the fixed period application.

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avatar The Wizard April 2, 2014 at 11:27 am

Can you post a link to where this is?
I’m logged onto my account and the best that I can find is this: https://www.tiaa-cref.org/public/support/forms/taking_from_account.html
But there’s no lifetime annuity option there.
I’m thinking perhaps T-C is nervous about putting those forms online since that’s largely an irreversible option…

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avatar ethicwatch April 2, 2014 at 2:55 pm

“Choosing Lifetime Retirement Income” in Google. But they advocate lifetime income from annuities in every government testimony and sponsor marketing materials, that’s what they do, retirement income. For years the local offices pushed fixed period payouts. I ran into the craziness when I applied for lifetime income for all my accumulations. They had moved away from the original payout scheme, I love old school schemes so I stuck to my original plan, the modern thing is your accounts remain open so you xcann send money back getting the same rate.

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avatar The Wizard April 2, 2014 at 3:10 pm

Thanks, EW. Google finds this 18-page pdf file on their website, apparently hidden from casual view: http://www1.tiaa-cref.org/ucm/groups/content/@ap_ucm_p_frm_pub/documents/formdocument/tiaa01011758.pdf

I also annuitized a bit over half of my T-C accumulation just one year ago. But only a modest fraction in TIAA Traditional, another modest fraction in CREF Stock and the bulk in TREA.
And I agree that they don’t seem to be “pushing” annuitization as much as I expected they might. The report they generated for me 24 months ago just shows periodic withdrawals with my balance actually growing over time. But I think I gave them too low of a required annual income number…

avatar ethicwatch April 3, 2014 at 4:24 pm

If you have questions about your initial payouts single or Joint life contact TC Life Atlanta, Georgia 877-694-0305, variable annuity contracts VA 1.

avatar ethicwatch April 2, 2014 at 3:15 pm

Fixed period annuitants can get a discounted cash payout according to the contract an option is the Investment Horizon Annuity TIAA started offering May, 2013. The fixed period application was revised 6/13, it doesn’t reference vintages, so my understanding that vintages only apply to lifetime income payouts is validated.

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avatar Pat April 2, 2014 at 5:40 pm

I just spoke with TIAA and they said a fixed period annuity is not the same as a TPA. Is that correct ? And if so would you know where I could find a definition of the various forms of annuities because I am getting very confused. Thanks. I appreciate all the info provided by the contributors to this forum.

avatar ethicwatch April 2, 2014 at 5:52 pm

Yes it’s true, but some use it to get their money out in less years. Just put the different payout options in Google, ie fixed period tiaa, lifetime tiaa, lifetime tiaa/cref variables, interest only tiaa, minimum distribution. You choose the option (s) and how much of your money and what accounts to use. You develop your income strategy. Pay no attention to brochure payout amounts employer plans are different.

avatar ethicwatch March 31, 2014 at 5:59 am

When TC decided to embrace wealth management all of its public information was careful designed to encourage wealth building. The problem was and remains the monies in the coffers are to provide retirement income. Not reading the options in original contracts and certificates leave participants to rely on the incomplete web information, which frustrates participants into seeking relief from advisors or like Wizard WMA. Asset retention became the focus, the problem is wealth accumulation was not the intent of the pension/retirement savings laws. Wealth Management activities have in fact trigger new regulation to insure retirement monies are for retirement not wealth building and estate planning. Trust that many retires under various withdrawal plans are in ordinary income tax shock. Taxes are deferred until distribution, when combined with other taxable income many are looking for new ways to shelter wealth finding very few hiding places, they eventually annuitize for lifetime income, where the tax might be on gains. Wizard you should heed your own advice everyone Isn’t a retail customer, employer plans payouts are different thus the need for employer confirmation signatures from each employer for certain distributions. Let’s hope the advisors/WMA have access to the individual contracts and the group contract when providing advice. Lifetime income can send part of their monthly payments back and receive the same interest rate if within the right timeframe.

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avatar Pat April 2, 2014 at 1:08 pm

Admittedly I am new to this whole retirement thing, so please bear with me if this is a silly question. When TIAA added the ten year distribution option along with the lifetime annuity, why have they not made this change more well known ? Why disguise it by making one transfer your funds first into a variable (CREF) annuity ?

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avatar The Wizard April 2, 2014 at 2:52 pm

That 10-year Transfer Payout Annuity (TPA) was not recently added; it’s been around for quite a while. And it’s ONLY applicable to TIAA Traditional and only within a RA/GRA, where new contributions are currently earning 3.75%, which is a decent rate right now.

But I have no idea what you mean by “disguising” it. I had a TPA a while back which moved money from Trad to the TIAA Real Estate Account (TREA) over the nine years and a day period…

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avatar ethicwatch April 2, 2014 at 2:33 pm

Asset retention employer accounts and the general account. I believe TIAA is moving towards payouts from fixed separate accounts rather than payouts from the General Fund, the GF would serve as backup, any legal claims would be addressed by the separate account. The 10 year payout is not in the original contracts, it is not in the group and supplemental policies. It is a known business practice that is accepted. Who does this practice benefit, if not the participant and/or beneficiaries it seems to step on the “exclusive benefit” clause in the contract/certificates and policies. Think class action for correction and relief. The immediate annuity step is also a business decision that could/should be challenge, who really benefits?

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avatar ethicwatch April 3, 2014 at 8:46 am

If you have any questions regarding payouts and timelines please contact Nikeisha Eaton, TIAA-CREF Compliance Associate directly at (704)988-1227 she is in the Denver office they handle distribution of investment products 403b. Good Luck!

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avatar ethicwatch April 4, 2014 at 8:58 am

If you are recieving unit annuity income “TIAA Separate Account One Life Unit Annuity Contract” non-participating. If you have questions contact TIAA at 800-842-2776. Ask if the intent is to use separate accounts for lifetime payments rather than the general account. Ask why payouts take months, is there a computer transition taking place, the SEC edgar has a copy of this contract in there archives. This contract supports the annuity unit payout from the Investment Account which is the Real Estate Account. The Access Account the unit investment trust separate account is also covered.

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avatar ethicwatch April 4, 2014 at 1:12 pm

I really believe that TIAA and some/all sponsors agreed to change the source of payouts for lifetime, interest only and fixed period from the TIAA General Account to separate accounts and unaccounted. This is the reason all payouts for lifetime begin with a single life annuity which comes from aftertax monies, 9 accounts immediate fixed and variable annuities. I believe the investigation and multimillion dollar settlement hindered the rollout of the new payout process. The changes in the application for “lifetime retirement income” is different from the application for “lifetime annuity income”since 6/13 serve as evidence that something different is happening. Participant wait for payouts while there are announcements of multimillion dollar settlements and huge half billion dollar real estate acquisitions in different countries with the interest gained from participants and retirees accumulations. This flies in the face of”exclusive benefit”. If they can buy real estate and pay court settlements, they can get rid of the immediate annuity step and honor the group and group supplemental contracts employer based plan support. The insurance investigators would be fooled by all these layers.

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avatar ethicwatch April 4, 2014 at 9:14 pm

On the TIAA CREF sponsors website I found two employer payout documents. “TIAA-CREF Non-Participating Group Annuity Request to Start Annuity Income”, 2 pages form. This document requires the employer signature. “TIAA-CREF Direct Payment Group Annuity Request to Start Annuity Income. Doc. type ACNTGAF and ACNTGAF these documents are sent to the Charlotte, NC office for the lifetime employer plan group benefits these are the onelife or two life contracts the insurance products.

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avatar ethicwatch April 5, 2014 at 9:02 am

In a April 1,2014 press release TIAA announces the completion of its acquisition of Henderson Global Investors. TIAA owns 60% and 40% is owned by Henderson. The company is headquarter in London with offices in Asia, Europe and North America. TIAA Henderson Real Estate (TH Real Estate) is a global commercial real estate company. 70.8 billion dollars of the TIAA General fund is invested in real estate. Tom Barbary, is the head of TIAA Global Real Estate and Chairma of TIAS Henderson Real Estate, located in Hartford Conn. and Chicago. The phone numbers are 1866-852-2051 Hartford, Conn. an1800-842-2005 Chicago. We should organize a road trip/ big pond crossing/ global trek to see what are accumulations have purchased. Can they post pictures on the website of the property holdings. How many participants face eviction and foreclosure waiting for their consumables funds to be freed to support lifetime income payouts. Who works in these worldwide offices? How does TIAA manage the properties and the revenue? These activities are the reason for the Single Life Annuity, TIAA sees itself as a global real estate company and the assets of the general fund serve as it capital pool. In the meantime annuitants are bewildered, what happen to my retirement benefits I paid premiums for lifetime income from TIAA the stock insurance company. The actual policyholder is the employer sponsor who may or may not know the ends and outs of the business practices of subsidiaries. Why can’t you annuitize from the TIAA General Account? What is a Single Life Annuity, what is the business purpose? How do these actions support “exclusive benefit”?

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avatar ethicwatch April 5, 2014 at 12:14 pm

Larry M.Chadwick, GO Governmental Relations Public Policy, TIAA-Cref 434-964-2611, l chadwick@tiaa-cref.org. Contact to ask the actual benefit employees who contributed decades to by premiums for guaranteed lifetime annuity income experiences through initial single life payouts in the annuitization process. Make sure he includes the application of “exclusive benefit”. After which he can explain how this practice is in the best interest of public sector participants and their beneficiaries. Would an immediate annuity represent a reduced benefit? Is this a contract violation? What is really meant by an annuity at any age? All payouts for lifetime incomes are annuities unless their are direct payments. In the group contract there is reference to a 1000000 per 12 month period for the policyholder/sponsor but TIAA can purchase millions if dollars worth of real estate and multi million dollar settlements from the General Account. There was a retirement fund and an investment fund. The old application was filled with tricks and deceptions that had long-term impact on innocent participants. The new application for retirement income simply begins with the single life immediate annuity without explanation.

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avatar The Wizard April 7, 2014 at 9:09 am

Am I the only one sensing an element of SEVERE CONFUSION here?

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avatar Edward Bergman April 7, 2014 at 12:16 pm

You are not the only one!

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avatar The Wizard April 7, 2014 at 12:30 pm

I don’t want to be mean to EW, but if he would have a little less coffee in the morning and then narrow his focus to a single salient point in each post, it would help the discussion…

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avatar zkeith April 7, 2014 at 1:53 pm

I, too, have no better understanding of this than I did two months ago. That is partially my fault because I’ve not tried to sort out the information in the various posts (although I’ve read each of them). Why? Because I really dislike annuities and am using RMD to remove the required distributions. With adequate planning for my spouse’s and my golden years, i.e., long-term care insurance, ample saving all along, not buying a new car every year so so with RMD, etc. etc., I think an annuity would not serve us very well.

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avatar The Wizard April 7, 2014 at 3:43 pm

Annuities aren’t for everyone. Step one is to determine how much income you need and/or WANT in retirement; step two is to total up up all your retirement assets and see how that compares to #1. If your assets are 30 times your annual income number, then just w/d 3% a year or a bit more and you should be fine.

RMDs, of course, start at around 3.8% and go up annually, so if most of your retirement savings are in T-C, you might have excess income, but you can reinvest that somewhere easily if you want.

Another consideration is any Bequest Motive to offspring/charities after both of you pass away. But almost nobody annuitizes 100% of their assets, so work this on an individual basis.

I annuitized a major chunk of my T-C accumulation at age 63 since I knew I wanted to spend more in retirement for travel, etc. And by annuitizing, I was able to get roughly 6.5% payout on my principal as opposed to a safe 3% to 4% if managing your own investments. And note: most of my annuities are on the Variable side (TREA and CREF Stock) as opposed to TIAA Traditional.

You might want to try the Morningstar T-C forum for more advice from other T-C participants…

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avatar Linda April 7, 2014 at 4:45 pm

3%-4%, and the investor keeps his principal.

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avatar The Wizard April 7, 2014 at 10:04 pm

Yes, a fair number of folks on Bogleheads.org and elsewhere are easily able to accomplish this, so three cheers for them, and their heirs.
Sadly, I was not able quite to achieve the savings level I aspired to, so annuitizing 50% has allowed me to live large.
YMMV…

avatar ethicwatch April 5, 2014 at 10:07 pm

As of today you can now access all manners of TIAA CREF forms. In fact through the “plan Sponsor” website you can find the forms not available on the participant website for direct payment from the group annuity (gra and ra), also direct payment forms for non participating annuities were you offered direct payment when you requested your retirement forms? What is the real purpose of the initial single life annuity in the lifetime annuitization process? Doc type KCHKGAF, this is handled from the Charlotte, NC offices. They also handle the “request for benefit calculation” ? These are sponsor documents, the misinformation begins in HR, the moves to Charlotte and is trapped in 9 immediate annuities in Denver it’s a ponzi scheme with the annuitants as the victims. There is no benefit to the annuitants in this strategy.

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avatar ethicwatch April 5, 2014 at 10:11 pm

http://www.tiaacref.org/plan sponsors/resources/forms/index.html, for all forms related to group annuity direct payments. Shame on the deception of this company.

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avatar Linda April 6, 2014 at 1:11 pm

The Oakland Institute’s analysis, the FINRA fine, the recent million dollar lawsuit, the Arnold research collaboration, the PAC spending, the record at the Center for Political Accountability, etc., don’t reconcile with TIAA’s corporate mission, so lofty PR statements aside, investors need rubrics to compare the company’s record in terms of honoring contracts, clear language, fiduciary obligations, etc. and, its financial performance.
(1) A yearly, 2% compounded, rate of return, advantage, should exist for non-profits, because they don’t have shareholders, requiring dividends. (2) Mutual funds, should grow by an approximate 1%- 2% compounded rate, because the funds retain the corporate dividends from the companies in which they invest. Combining the two, a participant should expect a long- term compounded growth rate that is 3%-4% greater than a stock index.
I didn’t focus on TIAA’s record, when my employer offered the 403b, because at that time TIAA’s reputation was based on the conformance of company objectives and mission. Current and future TIAA CEO’s, board members and employees, have an obligation to refrain from speaking engagements, when it is apparent that the invitation was based on the company’s prior reputation. Participants and the public, particularly those on college campuses, deserve to see the new operational mission that drives the company.

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avatar ethicwatch April 6, 2014 at 1:47 pm

The TIAA Traditional annuitants are the shareholders either from a money purchase or profitsharing employer plan that why we get proxy vote information as participants and annuitants. This company and state treasurers or governors found a way to retain participants accumulations in employer plans and to retain assets in the TIAA General Fund. The 10 year payout is mentioned in the blue folder information that accompanied your tiaa and cref contracts, it is not in the old contract language, the group contract was signed by state treasurer and approved by the Governor. The language clearly counters the “exclusive benefit” clause in the original contract. Because of provision 55 that limits the policyholder yearly payout to a 1,000,000 you could remain a lifetime annuitants stuck in immediate annuities for several years while the state slowly honors the terms of the group and group supplemental policies they hold with TIAA. All lifetime benefits are paid by and guaranteed by the General Account of TIAA the stock insurance company. TIAA TRADITIONAL is an insurance product, the immediate annuities are investment products. There was a time when lifetime income was a direct payment from the General Account, it appears the move is towards payments from the separate accounts. There is a $10mil. limit on the Real Estate Account, I believe the 403b TIAA Traditional is attached. The annuitants becomes the victim and TIAA uses our monies to purchase millions of dollars worth of real estate worldwide for cash.

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avatar ethicwatch April 7, 2014 at 12:59 pm

Wizard, WE has always been very female. Public higher ed. employees simply need to be pointed to the truth. Discussion is less important than being equipped to talk to TIAA CREF representatives about one’s retirement monies. I am not trying to tell anyone how to think, knowledge used effectively levels the playing field. I spent decades unearthed necessary information that I used for my better good. I think I provide good information so that participant can protect themselves. TIAA is huge they can handle knowledgeable participants and annuitants. You continue to go off topic and critiquing me and others as we sort through the issues we have with these companies. All voices can be heard.

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avatar Linda April 7, 2014 at 1:51 pm

Ethicswatch,
Keep informing us at this site.
Wizard is good at hurling insults to commenters but, gives a whitewash to non-disclosure of plan administrator fees and ignores (1) published reports of criminal convictions of employees (2) hefty, very quick legal settlements, and (3) evidence that greater good motivations are in the rear-view mirror.

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avatar The Wizard April 7, 2014 at 3:26 pm

OK, let’s take a look at a criminal conviction of an employee; not a good thing, we can agree.
But how does that affect someone age 62 aiming to retire in a year or two, with $700,000 spread over a half dozen investments in a few different GRAs and GSRAs?
Would be better to focus on the central mission of T-C and participant’s problems choosing and setting up their retirement income streams…

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avatar The Wizard April 7, 2014 at 3:20 pm

OK, good.
This post is LUCID, which means that almost everyone should be able to understand it.
I’m fully in favor of more relevant information, especially any that may have been concealed by the T-C higher ups.
Would be good to focus on one problem area at a time rather than spraying assertions in several directions.
Carry on…

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avatar Linda April 7, 2014 at 4:19 pm

Wizard,
Here is the narrow picture on income streams, if that is your comfort zone.
(1) If people invested in TIAA, under assumptions about the company, that are no longer valid, (2) if the company is actively working against participants, who have pensions and/or, (3) if participants feel more secure and/or can get better returns elsewhere, isn’t it wise for them to take their money out of TIAA, as expeditiously, as possible?
Here is the medium picture.
I agree with zkeith about the premise of annuities. Don’t they rely on something like a gaming design? Only they use actuarial tables, for a construct that allows the house to win?
Here is the big picture.
The evidence is ample that too many U.S. resources are devoted to financial firms.
If there are more mutual funds and hedge funds than there are companies, in which to invest, and if the alternative is make profits off of farming labor in 3rd world nations, maybe, U.S. financial firms should work to create entrepreneurial opportunities for small businesses, in this nation.
Commenters at this site, need neither your approval nor, evaluation to carry on.

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avatar The Wizard April 7, 2014 at 4:33 pm

Quick answers, gotta get a move on soon.
1) Yes, if TIAA turns out to be a corrupt company, Madoff-like, a Ponzi scheme, or whatever, then yes, we should both stop new contributions and file class-action lawsuits to recover whatever we can.

2) Annuities. Lots of insurance companies offer SPIAs; compare at immediateannuities.com. No gaming involved: your payout is based on three principles with actuarial life expectancy playing a role: a) return of principal invested; b) return of interest/gains obtained by investing your principal; c) Mortality Credits.
What are Mortality Credits? Let’s say we’re the same age and annuitize $500K at age 65. We each get $33,000 a year from that and are happy with that. But then I croak at age 80 but you live on to age 90. Guess where the “leftover money” in my “annuity account” goes to?

3) Financial Firms. Good luck on controlling US financial firms is about all I can say. Would been nice if Congress was on this back before 2008, IMO…

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avatar Mea April 14, 2014 at 9:36 pm

Try rolling over your ira from Tia into another institution!
I know by what I’ve already gone through requesting a direct
rollover only to have my application returned as I had not filled
out tax documents as if I was requesting an indirect rollover or
payout…I had a devil of a time to get the correct? documents
from them. Anyone know what type of attorney I could talk to?
I am Denver based and just want out of this company.
I feel I am in for the long haul.

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avatar ethicwatch April 7, 2014 at 3:30 pm

Get your life wizard, this space doesn’t need your leadership. The suits at TIAA and the state and federal regulators totally understand what everyone on this site is talking about, address the issues, drop the personal these comments are serious.

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avatar ethicwatch April 7, 2014 at 3:35 pm

Hundreds of accounts and participants information was involved in that case.

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avatar The Wizard April 7, 2014 at 3:48 pm

Can you post a link or a google phrase that I can use to find the case you’re referring to?
I fully admit to having good results with T-C thus far, so I’ve not been looking for negative info on them, but like I said, perhaps they hide it fairly well…

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avatar ethicwatch April 8, 2014 at 6:53 am

The question is why after decades of accumulating money for the purpose of providing retirement income, should except the immediate annuity initial payout. We paid premiums for TIAA TRADITIONAL through group and group supplemental employer plans, we have frozen aftertax accounts, frozen retirement annuities and SRA mostly in TIAA. Starting lifetime income from a one life or two life payout from the General Account of TIAA is exactly what our contracts entitle us to at retirement. The Single Life Annuity initial step creates an unjust enrichment for the employer/policyholder and TIAA the stock insurance company’s General Account. The policyholder withdrawal/transfer limitation in the group/supplemental group policies deepen the negative impact of the initial payout from immediate annuities. TIAA nor the employers can offer a viable benefit the single life payout nor the 1m policyholder withdrawal/transfer within 12 mos provides to the annuitants. Annuitization represents paycheck replacement so the process must provide for this replacement quickly. Unjust enrichment interferes with the seamless flow of income from work to retirement. TIAA General Fund supplied finances for huge real estate cash purchases, in the single life immediate annuity payout process/with policyholder limitations lifetime income annuitants wait months/years for final one life or two life TIAA insurance based payments, while the company and sponsors are enriched by asset retention. The Single Life contracts started in 1991. They now dominate the lifetime retirement income process as per the policy the individual contracts are connected. The policy between TIAA and the employer/policyholder dictates annuity start date. The annuitants application date starts the single life immediate annuity, the employer confirmation signature validates the one or two life benefits under the group and group supplemental policies. The lack of understanding and availability of the group policies to the annuitants creates the circumstances that supports unjust enrichment. That allow the companies to use participant monies for other business purposes, that undermine the spirit and intent of “exclusive benefit”. After decades retirees should receive their full payout in one or two weeks. There really is a strong basis for a claw action suit by those who in good faith applied for lifetime benefits and ended up in the single life immediate annuity molasses trip to a one or two life monthly payout. TIAA has other plans for our retirement monies.

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avatar The Wizard April 8, 2014 at 9:51 am

A few corrections:
1) Single-life contracts did NOT start in 1991. They were listed as one option on my original TIAA contract in 1973 and were likely available for decades prior to that, I’m not sure.

2) The policy between TIAA and the participant does NOT dictate the annuity start date. They pick a nominal start date (age 65?) purely for illustrative purposes in quarterly statements. You can start your lifetime annuity at any month following separation from employment. I’m not sure what the oldest age you can start a TIAA annuity is, but it’s probably 85 or older.

Please try to get your facts straight, thanks…

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avatar ethicwatch April 8, 2014 at 11:11 am

That’s when it started for my employer-based state 403b plan, because that’s what my contract says, these are my facts, all plans are different, the 401a is governed by the group annuity policy between TIAA and the state. The provisions are written in clear language, ” the policyholder determines the actual payout date”, the annuitants chooses the annuity start date, I’m saying factually that this date starts the Single Life Immediate Annuity payout, unless you have employer confirmation and the policyholder is within the 1,000,000, 12 month payout/transfer timeline, then the single life immediate annuities is the holding tank for those who have one life contracts from TIAA Traditional. The question is who prepares the direct payment application? So rather than nine payments you get two one from the retirement fund and one from the Real Estate/ investment fund. All guaranteed for life by TIAA the stock insurance company. Are you in fixed period payments, it’s different.

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avatar ethicwatch April 8, 2014 at 11:25 am

The single life contract used in employer plan payout schemes is attached to aftertax monies, the group policy language supports this process, the reissued individual policies in 1991 support the use of single life annuities in the group and supplemental group policies. These are my facts.

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avatar The Wizard April 8, 2014 at 2:00 pm

OK, gotcha. Not too familiar with their after-tax product line (ATRA?). All of my contracts were pre-tax contributions, both GRAs and GSRAs…

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avatar Pat April 8, 2014 at 12:15 pm

Oldest age to start annuities from TIAA as of 12/2012:
70½ …Must begin withdrawing funds from your retirement plans. Employer plans: by April 1 following the year you turn age 70½ or retire from the sponsoring employer, whichever is later. IRAs (except Roth IRAs): by April 1 following the year you turn
age 70½.
75… Must begin withdrawing funds exempt from age 70½ distribution requirement (funds contributed to a 403(b) plan before January 1, 1987), unless you are still employed and meet certain criteria.
90… Must begin income from after-tax annuities. Latest you can start taking lifetime annuity income from a TIAA-CREF retirement account

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avatar The Wizard April 8, 2014 at 10:06 am

I will say that the process of starting an annuity with T-C can take anywhere from a few to several weeks. All paperwork has to be complete and processed by the Charlotte office (in my case anyway) by the 20th of the month for the initial payout to commence on the 1st of the month following.
So if you initiate the process on March 15th, for example, there’s no way it will be complete by March 20th. So it just slips to April 20th, with first payment on May 1st. But that initial payment is somewhat more than the initial payment on April 1st would have been since a) you’re a month older; and b) your TIAA Traditional account accumulated another month’s interest while sitting there.
Hope this helps…

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avatar ethicwatch April 8, 2014 at 11:16 am

The initial payout is from TIAA and CREF variable accounts, the real estate is the variable account for the TIAA TRADITIONAL Annuity in 403b plans, different payout scheme than employer plans.

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avatar The Wizard April 8, 2014 at 1:55 pm

I assume you mean the TIAA Real Estate Account (TREA); yes, that’s a fine account to be annuitized in…

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avatar ethicwatch April 8, 2014 at 7:18 am

“Class action lawsuit”.

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avatar Linda April 8, 2014 at 8:45 am

Wizard,
In your post, April 7, at 3:45, you wrote, “Annuities aren’t for everyone.” I thought the phrasing sounded familiar then, I remembered the same phrase was used as a defense, after it was learned that families were devastated, as a result of ownership of whole life policies instead of term policies.
Did you sell insurance in the 80′s?

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avatar Edward Bergman April 8, 2014 at 11:14 am

Cut the ad hominem, Linda. “not for everyone” is hardly occupation-specific. Wizard was covered by TC since 1973, I in 1972 and we both had options that we selected at that time.

His useful point was a reminder that the broad inaccuracies issued daily do not apply to everyone or perhaps even to the one issuing them. There are many points concerning T/C where help from others would be very much appreciated, but this daily flow of barely informed broadsides appear too much like belated grandstanding and too little like help to others.

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avatar Pat April 8, 2014 at 12:22 pm

EthicWatch has provided very useful information regarding the 1990 settlement agreement between the SEC and TIAA. Prior to the settlement TIAA would not allow transfers out of CREF. Only after intervention was TIAA forced to provide choices of investment vehicles. I read the SEC order on Lexis, but still trying to find the exact agreement as I believe TIAA has clearly violated some of the terms based upon the Chronicle of Higher Ed analysis. Without Ethicwatch I never would have known about this litigation. Please keep the info coming and thank you.

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avatar The Wizard April 8, 2014 at 2:08 pm

I googled this a bit and found a good summary article by a fellow who’s still quite active over at the M* forum.
http://mysite.verizon.net/res15t8an/settlemt.html
He lists a couple Lexis-Nexis articles at the bottom, which may include the one you mention.
Others may find this background interesting as well…

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avatar Pat April 9, 2014 at 12:55 pm

Thanks. I had read this summary and others but can’t seem to find the original settlement agreement on Lexis. Appreciate your help.

avatar Linda April 8, 2014 at 1:01 pm

First, representatives, who sell or sold, term policies, would take no offense, from my question.
Secondly, there would have to be agreement that the sale of whole life policies was wrong.
If those two conditions aren’t met, what is your point?

I await your universal application of sensitivity to barbs, regardless of source.

Morningstar, as referenced previously, was informative. There, were a couple of articles about TIAA-CREF, concerning the denial of democratic voting rights and the transformation of the company culture.

Relative to the annuity reference, individuals who invest their own money, can keep principal, it may not be the 100% that a boglehead achieves but, it can buy that “living large” experience in the future. Deciding not to annuitize may be as helpful information to 403b owners as deciding on a payment plan.

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avatar The Wizard April 8, 2014 at 1:52 pm

Please, Linda, no one is trying to impale you here.
I worked as an engineer for 41 years, nothing to do with insurance of any sort.
I’m active over at Bogleheads as well and so am reasonably familiar with the pros and cons of annuitizing.
What makes a T-C annuity somewhat unique is that we have access to TREA, while the general public does not. This is the main reason my monthly annuity payments go up slightly each month, on average. But one needs to keep an eye on TREA and be ready to transfer out in the event of another decline…

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avatar ethicwatch April 8, 2014 at 12:55 pm

Today I contacted the HR representative from my former employer about TIAA CREF form”Direct Group Annuity Request to Start Annuity Income” this form WPID TH IA, F9797 (06/07) Doc Type: ACNTGAT. When completed is sent by the representative of the premium payment group in my case the state division of pensions. The HE rep. contacted the local TIAA representative who informed the HE rep.to have me call TIAA CREF to send me a direct payment form, the form clearly is one completed by the HR rep. who serves as the institutional rep. for the Div. of Pensions, so I downloaded the form, attached and forwarded to the campus HR rep. to complete and forward to the state pension rep. authorized to release my annuity payment. This is my facts. This is proof regarding the immediate annuity scheme and the employer determining the actual payout date. Unfair enrichment at the expense of the annuitants. Wizard my facts are easily validated by the way I filed an unfair enrichment complaint with my states insurance dept., they will see the class action implications. Personally, I just want my monthly payments. I hope my comment help.

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avatar The Wizard April 8, 2014 at 2:28 pm

I don’t see any “unfair enrichment” going on here, certainly not yet.
It looks like you just initiated the request to annuitize one (?) of your contracts with T-C today, 4/8/2014.
Once I retired, my former company sent a “separated from service” notification to TIAA-CREF (which took another week or so) and from then on my former employer was no longer involved. I dealt directly with T-C in setting up my annuity and systematic withdrawal payouts.

It appears that your university? and state have a different level of pension processing added on top of whatever T-C does, so there’s no way that will speed up things.

Maintain a chronology of what happens going forward. I’ll bet 25 cents you get your first annuity payout check on June 1st…

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avatar ethicwatch April 8, 2014 at 8:37 pm

The very fact that TIAA all inbred subsidiaries is an over $500+billion dollar corporation that purchases $500+million dollar London-based real estate company for cash. The monies come from participants, employers, investments etc. “Exclusive benefit” of the participants and their beneficiaries. The whole single life immediate annuity initial payout scheme really benefits the employer and the TIAA General Account where lifetime income is paid. Wizard public plans are both 401a and 403b. We have TIAA Traditional and TIAA Traditional Annuity the real estate variable annuity. We can annuitize some or all accounts for lifetime income from TIAA General Account. I stand by my unfair enrichment claim because a extended payout process doesn’t benefit me, I need my money. $500+ billion dollars might red flag asset retention. Wizard tell your wealth manager the brewing Class action suit will be settled swiftly to get rid of the immediate annuity payout scheme and provide a fair process that is timely. I fully understand revenue raising to provide income that need created CREF but tricks that hinder payout is not acceptable. Interesting you felt a need to take your concerns to “consumerism”, it’s just a bigger audience, if it leads to payout process reforms the kudos to you, we just want the problems fixed.

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avatar The Wizard April 8, 2014 at 10:58 pm

Ho hum, EW.
I’m signing off this forum after this post.
You can find me over at the M* T-C forum along with lots of other informed T-C participants if you need real help with any T-C problems.
Until then, keep your imagination active and don’t forget to check over your shoulder every 15 minutes…

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avatar ethicwatch April 8, 2014 at 8:42 pm

Public higher ed employees are in group and supplemental group plans we use our accumulations to purchase lifetime income within the plan through a group policy between TIAA and the policyholder in my case the state. This will be fixed.

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avatar ethicwatch April 15, 2014 at 7:25 pm

Update the local TIAA representative did not provide the HR administrator with instructions regarding procedures to process the group and group supplemental direct payment form. My former higher ed employer is a member of the state pension system, the state pays the employer contribution, the actual policyholder is the state, the applications request the premium payment group (PPG) Code. There is a request for form W-4P and W-9. The authorization states, “I hereby authorize TIAA-CREF to initiate annuity benefits based upon the data provided above, and to deduct the payments from the TIAA CREF Group Annuity Account.” The non-participating group annuity request to Start Annuity Income …..and charge the TIAA-CREF Group Annuity Account for the cost to purchase a TIAA guaranteed (non-participating) annuity these documents are dated 06/07. All documents are available online but not under payout/withdrawal forms on the TC website. Just another crazy step in a confusing process.

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avatar ethicwatch April 11, 2014 at 8:47 am

The 6/13 form “lifetime retirement annuity” application from TIAA CREF, clearly begins at Single Life to understand TC Life, there is a. State of NY Insurance Dept., report “State of NY Insurance Dept. Report on the Financial Conditon examination of The TIAS CREF Life Insurance Company”. January 22, 2010. This subsidiary has never sold a premium, it’s major function is distribution for TIAA and the sale of aftertax annuities, I suspect with the Plan to aid payouts from the general fund for lifetime income. If interested you decide.

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avatar Linda April 11, 2014 at 9:22 am

Ethicswatch,
Will you help me understand the significance of payouts from the general fund vs. payouts from other sources, within TIAA-CREF? Is the issue, collateral or security or misleading statements or revenues outside of regulatory jurisdictions or ….?
Thank you.

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avatar ethicwatch April 11, 2014 at 11:02 am

TIAA TRADITIONAL the employer and the employee under regroup retirement annuity paid premiums that buy a guaranteed payment from TIAA, the stock insurance company, these payments are sent to and deposited in the general fund. TT is a guaranteed insurance product not an investment product. Under my state plan we began in a money purchase scheme that by legislative reform is now a profitsharing scheme. TT makes you a shareholder with voting rights. So at retirement the policyholder must complete a form confirming the employees right to payment from the group policy. All monies belong to the participant. The participant chooses the option(s), if lifetime income is chosen then the policyholder rules dictate payout, ie age attainment and the actual annuity date, which can be different from the retirement date chosen by the retiree. The language is in the plan group annuity policy between TIAA and the policyholder in my case the state even though I was employed by a public college in the state pension system. The GSRS 403b also has a fixed guaranteed annuity these funds are governed by a group supplemental policy between the employer and TIAA. The guaranteed account is TIAA TRADITIONAL Annuity tied to the TIAA Real Estate count it is the fixed variable annuity for supplemental 403b. My plan was 401a and 403b, two frozen RA’ s and a SRA. So if you want lifetime income from the traditional annuity the policyholder would complete a form with the employee information confirming that the employee is entitled to the stated monthly payment for the investment fund, a separate account of TIAA which guarantees lifetime income. So for payout there is a retirement fund and an investment fund governed by the policyholder and TIAA. The separate account Single Life Annuity used in the payout process is an outgrowth of the 1990 settlement to expand options, so the first step in the process was the use of cref funds/ aftertax monies to create initial payout immediate annuities. It appears that the policy dictates actual payout date so a retiree can sit in this transition stage until some group/supplemental milestone is reached. Sorry if this is long. The actual payout process is dictated by the policy between TIAA and the policyholder in my case the state. Lifetime income from TIAA makes you a stockholder/proofreader in TIAA. I believe this is the proper answer.

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avatar ethicwatch April 11, 2014 at 1:29 pm

Sorry Group and Group Supplemental Policies. TIAA is a insurance company. I understand the content of my post might be difficult but retirement is very important, so it is important to understand what impacts payout.

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avatar ethicwatch April 11, 2014 at 7:21 pm

Profitsharer.

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avatar ethicwatch April 14, 2014 at 7:32 am

TIAA CREF purchased Nuveen Investments for 6.25 billion dollars. I don’t know if this is bad or good. If it means a overhaul of the existing investment /managed accounts systems than kudos Roger. If existing advisors/WMA and their managers get the boot kudos. If this move improves customer service and expands the knowledge base of employees that interact with participants and annuitants then the universe has moved this company towards the greater good.

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avatar ethicwatch April 28, 2014 at 8:56 am

On another blog someone questioned the relationship between TIAA CREF and JPMorgan Chase, now so do I. The Nuveen deal, JPM serves as TIAA’ s advisor, some Nuveen executives are former employees of JPM, in recent years some top executives hired by TC worked for JPM. TC is the custodian of JPMC employees 403b plan. JPMC serves as guardian of TC mutual funds through an agreement with TC Individual and Institutional Services, I think this began in. 2002 ,initial deposit 4+ billion. The proper title is Global Custodian mutual, institutional and life funds are included. This means that through said agreement JPMC is in physical possession of our assets. This means JPMC is responsible for not allowing our money to get into someone else’s hands. TC our provider made this arrangement, by law mutual funds must have a guardian to protect investors from investment fraud. So why am I nervous about this 30 year corporate relationship. The recent history of JPMC is first and foremost. Bernie Madoff ponzi scheme and JPMC executive looking the other way. The custodian relationship with MF Global, a large percentage of the missing money was found at JPMC. The London Whale. The Ukraine based hacking and multi million dollar atm account heist that included both JPMC and TIAA CREF accounts. The there are the two pending pension fund cases, the Central Laborer’ s Pension Fund vs Simon and the Steamfitters Local 449 Pension Fund that involves the use of “Single Life Annuities” this lawsuit is being handled by NY based securities attorney from Morgan and Morgan, in the summary it states,” the Board of Directors allowed NO Morgan to embark on an unprecedented course of recklessness and unlawful conduct to increase their own personal fortunes”. We are judged by the company we keep. 500+ billion in assets should give us pause and open the discussion about the relationship between TIAA CREF and JPMorgan Chase. It’s our retirement monies, they must be protected. A Fox guarding the henhouse is not an acceptable strategy. A simple Google search will provide all related documents to this post. The regulators will fully understand the connections.

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avatar Linda April 29, 2014 at 3:19 pm

Thank you for continuing to research and post, Ethicswatch.
The collection of data at this site, centralizes the information.
The new bestseller by Thomas Picketty, establishes the reason for the loss of the American dream. The book should be mandatory reading for the TIAA-CREF Boards.
Since the 80′s, the financial sector doubled its share of GDP. Their share grew faster than either the flow of savings they channel or the assets they manage, wasting 2% of GDP. For each 1% of GDP growth, approx. 1,000,000 jobs are created. Conversely, when GDP is lost, jobs are lost.
Increasingly, there is national focus on the adverse effects the financial sector has on the American people. Today, Huffington Post reported a SEC Commissioner asked for greater sanctions on banks. It is time to dismantle financial firms and their influence.

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avatar Bewildered April 30, 2014 at 4:35 pm

I have a small retirement account with Tiaa through a former employer. Over the years, I have found that the many “consultants” don’t know what they were talking about. In fact, I didn’t contact Tiaa for years because of the “consultants” made me believe that my account was too small to answer my questions. I thank one reason is that they don’t want you to roll over and lose any cash but they don’t want to deal with you. I SHOULD HAVE ROLLED OVER years ago!. Now, the time has come that I have to deal with Tiaa. Again, I find the same problems and I have to call back at least 3-4 times to get the correct information. Yet, they have no trouble trying to encourage me to transfer my other accounts to Tiaa. I have tried to get info from their website
before calling but the website is useless for some information. I will be rolling over to another institution so that I can out of Tiaa soon. I wish that I started rolling over my “small” account sooner so my dealings with Tiaa would end.

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avatar ethicwatch May 2, 2014 at 4:31 pm

On other websites the suggestion is to do plan to plan or trustee to trustee transfers. Most of the advisor staff are licensed brokers or insurance producers they can where found guilty of bad service/advice be fined or sanctioned by a state insurance dept or the SEC they have license numbers with the state’s where issued. If you read the May 1, 2014 Real Estate prospectus you will see they spend millions to purchase properties and in a sale of the property lose millions because of lost in value. All of these monies are in the TIAA General Account and the separate account, all participants/employer premiums. If the corporation can lose millions on property sales in a given year and spend billions purchasing corporations domestic and foreign then transfers and lifetime income payments for thousands/millions to participants should present no problem. Unless all the funds in the general account are otherwise encumbered. There is a focus issue with TIAA and funding retirements is minor. Always get the advisor/WMA license number.

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avatar chmodlf May 5, 2014 at 8:11 pm

Do not put your money in a TIAA CREF annuity for your 403b account. It will take ten (10) years to roll your money over if it is over $2000. This is absolutely ridiculous. At a minimum they should state clearly that it will take 10 years to get your money out. It should be signed off separately not just be part of the fine print. Besides you are better off in stocks as they return more over time. This is going to cost me big dollars to purchase years of service in a state retirement system. DO NOT CONTRIBUTE TO THEIR ANNUITY UNLESS YOU CAN WAIT TEN YEARS TO GET YOUR MONEY OUT!!!

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avatar Pat May 6, 2014 at 2:15 pm

That is absolutely sound advice. I only recently found out about the 10 year cash distribution option, There is no clear information regarding this option which only became available after a 1989 TIAA-CREF settlement agreement with the SEC. I have been trying to correct TIAA-CREF’s error in failing to provide adequate notice of the 10 year withdrawal option for months. For over 20 years TIAA failed to provide any clear cut information regarding this distribution option. I recently looked at their website and they still do not clearly provide information regarding cash withdrawals.

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avatar zkeith May 6, 2014 at 3:35 pm

If this is the same as the TPA (transfer payout option), I have an abundance of information about that provided by TIAA-CREF in a variety of brochures received a number of years ago. I have always been aware of the fact that I had three basic ways of getting money out of TIAA: An annuity, RMD, and TPA. I know of no other way to get money out of TIAA.

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avatar Pat May 6, 2014 at 7:50 pm

Were the brochures sent to you by TIAA or by your employer ? My contract was amended in 1994 to include TPAs, but there was never a mention of a cash withdrawal option. There was a mention of a transfer to a variable annuity (CREF) but no language to indicate that the TPA could be received in cash. I requested that TIAA provide me with evidence that they actually provided notice of a cash withdrawal option, but the only documents that they could provide was the ambiguously worded contract amendment of 1994 and the Quarterly statements starting in 2011 that for the first time included the term cash withdrawal on page 3 of the glossary. Hardly the clear and concise information as required by ERISA ?

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avatar Judy May 13, 2014 at 10:50 am

Extreme dissatisfaction with TIAA CREF. I requested a transfer of funds which was not. Luckily my telephone conversation had been recorded. So the funds were transferred 5 months later. A form 5498 was received with a an internal transfer/rollover funds which I did not request. I called TIAA Cref and was told this was an error. In early April, I was told by Dionne Davis of TIAA CREF that a corrected form would be mailed to me so I could file my IRS taxes. This never came and Dionne would respond my 4 telephone message. On May 1, I called again to Joe Wm Yeoman requesting the form. He arranged to have it sent to me in “overnight mail.” Again nothing arrived. May 13, I called again to Mr. Yeoman informing him that I did not receive any mail from TIAA CREF. He transferred me to another Dept and spoke with Jaime Gonzales. Mr. Gonzales it would take a lot longer so he would have to call me back.

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avatar ethicwatch May 16, 2014 at 9:37 am

Sometime in the very near future TIAA the stock insurance company will introduce TCLife, the stock insurance company that will handle all non-lifetime income payouts ie fixed period, for years separate accounts have been established under TIAA and CREF for accumulations it appears now the systems are in place so that annuity payouts can come from the separate accounts under TC LIFE, the stock life insurance company. It appears TC Life will handle investment account payouts which might include the TIAA Traditional Annuity which is attached to the TIAA Real Estate Account which is presently attached to the TIAA INVESTMENT Fund. I believe there is an expansion, TC Life presently handles the aftertax single life annuity and will in the near future handle all separate account payouts. TIAA TRADITIONAL will still come from TIAA THE STOCK Insurance Company for now. I believe starting all payouts from a single life or Joint life buys time and preserves the general fund. So your lifetime retirement tiaa traditional will still come from TIAA GENERAL ACCOUNT retirement fund and any lifetime payouts from investments would come from TC LIFE or when investment funds are transferred to TIAA TRADITIONAL payments come from the General Account/retirement fund of TIAA the parent company of TC LIFE. The 4/14 and 6/13 choosing retirement income applications support the idea that there are many internal changes in the accumulation process. TIAA TRADITIONAL payout was one and two life, now everything is single or Joint life. Application for lifetime income TIAA TRADITIONAL not available on participant website under forms nor on the sponsor website. The choice of what to do with retirement savings requires clear information, access to proper forms, employer plan rules and master policy rules. It’s time for this company to come clean regarding its employer based retirement plans. At this moment this is what I believe has been transitioning since 2011, the lawsuits and investigations slowed the timelines for total transformation. The Nuveen deal might further delay maybe Nuveen can handle retail, while TIAA sticks to public nonprofit. If the deal is allows to close by the regulators.

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avatar toucanvet May 22, 2014 at 2:09 pm

Hi, SO my question is; I have just inherited a relatively large sum of $$ from my parents Tiaa-Cref. And I am obliged to do something with this money. At the advise of my accountant I plan to move it into an inheritance/stretch IRA. My question is Should I keep it at TIAA-Cref in an IRA or move it to another IRA with another finicial company (nationwide, currently holds 2 of my other IRA’s) ? My wife thinks leave it there cause its faster and easier I think – get it away from them because they have been somewhat of a hassle – mostly because of time change differences – I am in Cali their offices are in NC/NY. thanks for the opinion.

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avatar Franklin Burroughs May 22, 2014 at 2:40 pm

I would strongly advise against remaining with T/C. I have an IRA with them, and another with a different entity, and have reached the age of the Minimum Distribution Requirement (i.e. annual withdrawal, as mandated by federal law). The process of setting this up was simple with the other IRA; with T/C it has been fraught with delay, forms, more forms, telephone calls (some lasting for hours) etc.
The institution by which I was formerly employed became so frustrated by this kind of thing that they eventually cancelled their relation to T/C.

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avatar LB429 July 2, 2014 at 2:57 pm

I am very confused at present. I have 2small TIAA-Cref accounts from a previous employer. I was emailed the forms to roll them over to a financial advisor. Of course, T-C contacted me about staying with them. My husband retired and has a substantial 401K that I am planning to roll over to Vanguard–T-C explained that I can have WM services with them–a dedicated advisor, but at Vanguard I qualify for advice from whomever answers the phone that day. Any opinions?

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avatar Gareth Barnes July 21, 2014 at 10:26 am

I taught in the US 1990-1992 and have since taught in the UK where I have monitored the growth of my TIAA-CREF fund from those two years. As an overseas customer, does anyone know how annuities/lump sums are handled and if there is scope for further investment here?
Thank you!
Gareth

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avatar Joel L. Frank July 21, 2014 at 2:54 pm

Let’s zero in on how much it costs the public worker to invest in Defined Contributions plans. A good place to start is at the lower end of the Hudson River where we have a tale-of-two plans. One is the retail priced commission based mutual fund/variable annuity that are sold to New Jersey state and municipal workers. The other is the de minimus cost investment funds that are sold to the public sector workers of the City and State of New York. In New Jersey, where the fiduciary standard is systemically ignored, the employee is charged about $3,000 annually per $100,000 of account value. In New York, where the fiduciary standard is systemically followed, the employee is charged about $400.00 annually per $100,000 of account value.

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avatar Linda July 27, 2014 at 3:56 pm

Joel,
Who gets the $3,000 fee?

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avatar Joel L. Frank July 27, 2014 at 6:31 pm

Prudential Financial.

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avatar Linda July 27, 2014 at 6:53 pm

Joel,
I appreciate your information.
So, in N. J., a defined benefit plan could be a better choice, if pensions weren’t Chris Christie’s political football?
Is there a process through which N. J. employees can pay a lesser fee? Or, are they caught between a rock and a hard place?
Thanks.

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avatar Joel L. Frank July 31, 2014 at 12:27 pm

Hi Linda,
This issue shows just how insignificant the unions are. For the first 25 years of its operation the New Jersey State Employees Deferred Compensation Plan was run, in-house, by the NJ Department of the Treasury. For 25 years the Plan offered four investment funds at a cost of 8 basis points—$80.00 per year per $100,000 of account value. THIS WAS THE NATIONAL MODEL OF ITS TIME.

That said, all changed n 2006 when the operation was handed over to Prudential Retirement. THIS SPRING the Governor had the opportunity to revert back to having the Treasury handle the Plan but he chose, instead, to enter into a six year contract extension with Prudential Retirement. He could have re-negotiated the contract with Prudential to assure that only no-load–de minimus cost funds are sold. He did not, so we remain enslaved by the same retail priced commissioned based funds Prudential Retirement pedals all across the nation.

New Jersey Education Association/Communication Workers of America:

1. WHY DO I CONTINUE TO PAY YOU TO REPRESENT ME?

2. WHY ARE YOU IN COURT WITH THE PENSION FUNDING ISSUE BUT HAVE DECIDED TO DO NOTHING WITH THE DEFERRED COMPENSATION PLAN?

3. WHY ARE YOU ALLOWING THE DEFERRED COMPENSATION PLAN TO BE A CASH COW FOR PRUDENTIAL FINANCIAL?

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avatar Linda August 1, 2014 at 12:44 am

Joel,
Your question about the NJ education association is a good one for Diane Ravitch’s blog. There are many people at her blog, who want stronger representation from their unions.
The forces against working people are formidable. The Campaign for America’s Future, the Center for Media and Democracy, Mother Jones, Prof. Lessig at Harvard, Paul Krugman, Dean Baker and a lot of other people are heroes, trying to stop the sociopathic behavior of the oligarchs and the influence of the politicians and media they own. In the latest sad twist, miscreants from the financial and tech industries, have made their way into public education profiteering. A year ago, I made a commitment to myself to do one thing everyday to regain democracy for my nation. It will take all of us working together to overcome the concentration of wealth that drags our economy down and denies opportunity.

avatar Linda August 6, 2014 at 12:36 pm

Joel,
I’ve been reflecting on your info. about N.J., and I realized I may be paying 3% to the plan administrator for my 403b, in addition to fees to TIAA. I can’t get either my employer or TIAA to tell me the amount of the fee and that’s after months of trying.

The financial system in the U.S. is broken for the middle class, until there is transparency.

avatar Linda July 31, 2014 at 9:08 am

Combing through information released by WikiLeaks, an investigative journalist found the multinational corporations’ goal to eliminate pensions. The article, “A Top-Secret Agreement to Carve Up Public Services”, (Odent, July 29, 2014) is at the Truthout website. “The massive scale offensive was launched by Washington, followed by EU member states, in order to make it possible for multi-national companies eventually to monopolize the trade in financial products and also the trade in all services (including education).”
The shadow General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) has a target date for completion in 2015.
Specific wording cited, “State monopolies that provide pensions, ‘would be dismantled’ “.
“The secret text stipulates that foreign companies could in no way be treated discriminatingly.”
This provision would prevent U.S. legislation that could address the adverse effect of Walgreen’s proposed paper move to Switzerland, to avoid taxes, while receiving a substantial portion of their revenue from U.S. taxes, in the form of Medicare and Medicaid payments. Wording in the cited document “prevents a country from buying back water supply companies (and charter schools), even when they are performance failures.”

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avatar Joel L. Frank August 6, 2014 at 12:51 pm

Linda;
From the investment fund prospectus you can get the expense ratio for each fund you invest in. As a rule-of-thumb multiply that ratio by two. The result is a good estimate of all the costs you pay to invest in the 403(b).
I hope this helps.

Joel

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avatar Linda August 6, 2014 at 1:24 pm

Thanks Joel,

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avatar Linda August 6, 2014 at 1:32 pm

Thanks for info., Joel
By doubling do you mean, the plan administer gets, as an approximation, about half of what the investor pays? Or, are you saying there is additional for the financial firm?
Do I recall correctly, that the fees, for the funds listed in the prospectuses, are usually less than 1%?
I appreciate your willingness to answer.

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avatar Joel L. Frank August 6, 2014 at 2:17 pm

Linda:

There are two kinds of fees: 1. Plan Administration and 2. Investment Management.
To really get a handle on this stuff I would WRITE to my plan administrator. Use, as an example, your January 2, 2014 balance for xyz fund. Tell him/her you are attempting to calculate your annual costs of investing in this fund and you’re having difficulty in ascertaining the Plan administration fees which include recordkeeping, custodial. legal, accounting, communication, etc.

That said, I am sorry for giving you a short-cut answer. We all deserve a better understanding of what it costs us to invest. That said, the Prospectus give us in a transparent way the “expense ratio” or investment management fee. It is the costs for Plan administration that is difficult to calculate.

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avatar Linda August 6, 2014 at 2:33 pm

Yes, we all deserve a better understanding of what it costs us to invest.
It would have been easy for TIAA and my employer to tell me the amount of savings (a credit) TIAA found and passed on to participants. It would have been easy for them to tell me the total amount the plan administrator received but, they chose not to. The plan administrator, and university counsel, as their latest gambit, has provided the public information request form to me, after months of stonewalling. It’s clear no one should use intermediaries for investments.

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avatar Stephen August 20, 2014 at 4:40 pm

I have read through many of these comments and find that they really don’t specifically address my current dilemma with TIAA-CREF. I am not annualized and find that most of my funds are liquid and only a percentage fall under the 10yr PO (i.e.- they can be rolled to another company). So I have spent the last month investigating three specifically different possibilities to TIAA-CREF as well as leaving what I have in place (with TCWM in Charlotte). Many friends tell me they have gotten out of TC. I am thinking I can do better in one of the other possibilities I am researching, even with TC’s low fees. Any comments from your perspective of service with TC?

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avatar Linda August 21, 2014 at 10:24 am

I took my money out of TIAA this year for 3 reasons. First, the lofty mission statement of the Board, belies a company that operates like other Wall Street firms. Abundant evidence has been provided by commenters, including citations, about a FINRA fine, a settled class action suit, and colleges that no longer include TIAA among their retirement offerings. Second, I found that when I retired and did not move my funds from my employee account, an on-going plan administrator fee was assessed but, neither TIAA nor the public employer, is willing to identify the amount of the fee. The employer stonewalled until their legal counsel finally, and dismissively, provided a link to a “public information request” form. Thirdly, Peter Mallouk, in his recently published book, The 5 Mistakes Every Investor Makes and How to Avoid Them, debunks investment notions and concisely explains what we should all be doing with our investments. On p. 125, he describes a little understood concept about financial advisors and conflicts in “acting in the investor’s best interest.”

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avatar Stephen August 21, 2014 at 11:25 am

Thanks, Linda, for your comments and reasoning. I will look into this book you mention. If one wants a low fee option I agree that the Vanguard Index Funds are the way to go. But I do believe that there are reputable fee for service financial advisors out there who don’t sell product and whose disclosure statements clearly state the fees up front. In my research mentioned before I have found several locally. Also, I requested and received from TCWM a list of all expense ratios for all my funds with them recently. I have always wondered about the Defined plans of which I have two as to whether there is an additional fee as you mention, but have been told “no”.

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avatar Lisa August 22, 2014 at 11:17 pm

I have a question. I have only one annuity payment left due in November 2014. I called today because according to my former employer you can now take your money out of the traditional account if it has less than 5,000 dollars. My account has less than that and I called to see if I could get my money early since the contract had changed and they informed me that I could not and I would have to wait until November? I really need the money now and am struggling but they refused to help and I have already had one hardship payment a few years ago. Does anyone here know anything about this?

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avatar Pat August 24, 2014 at 2:48 am

If TIAA really wants to help they can but it is like pulling teeth. I have a small account and needed the entire balance but they told me they had no discretion to disburse it early even though they never provided me with a cash TPA option for over 20 years. But I was persistent, contacted their CEO Ferguson, contacted their legal department and they finally gave me a one time advance payment that did not qualify for a hardship. When I asked where this specific “benefit” came from, they said and I quote “…our advancing the one TPA payment is provided as an administrative liberalization of the contract payment option.” In other words they can do anything they want, if they want. They apparently pay no attention to ERISA requirements of clear and concise benefit language. BTW it took a year of contacting them before they would distribute the extra distribution. TIAA needs to get a heart. My advice is be persistent, as often the customer service people will give you different answers.

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