TIAA-CREF: I Can’t Get My Money Out

TIAA-CREF has multiple withdrawal and transfer rules which are different depending on the type of contract, type of accounts, and amount in each account. This makes it very difficult for their own investors and advisors to make informed investment decisions. In this article, I will address one unique option for taking money out of the TIAA Traditional Account – the Transfer Payout Annuity (TPA).

TIAA Traditional

The TIAA Traditional Annuity’s primary goal is to protect an investor’s principal while proving the highest rate of return possible. This return comes in the form of a guaranteed return (1% to 3%) with the addition of a dividend (or additional return) at the discretion of the TIAA Board of Trustees. The additional dividend, if any, is primarily determined by current interest rates. In order to offer a guaranteed return, the TIAA Traditional Annuity invests in long-term, relatively illiquid assets. This is the reason a distribution cannot be taken in a lump sum from certain contracts.

Transfer Payout Annuity

This sets the stage for a discussion on Transfer Payout Annuities. However, there are multiple types of contracts TIAA-CREF offers which have different rules, time frames, and possible penalties for moving TIAA Traditional. A TPA allows TIAA Traditional investors to move an amount from a Retirement Annuity or Group Retirement Annuity (employer matching accounts) in 10 annual payments over a 9-year period. Each installment includes a portion of principal and interest. Depending on employment status and rules of the university’s plan, each payment can be transferred to another fund within the contract (CREF), rolled over to an IRA, or taken as a cash distribution.


This provides a glimpse of how a Transfer Payout Annuity works and the reason behind the withdrawal restriction. As mentioned previously, a TPA applies to Retirement Annuities (RA) and Group Retirement Annuities (GRA) with TIAA-CREF. Distributions are different from TIAA Traditional within other contracts offered by TIAA-CREF including Retirement Choice, Group Supplemental Retirement Annuities, and even a GRA mentioned above at retirement.

Kevin McNab

This article is written by Kevin J. McNab. Kevin is President of ACE Wealth Partners, LLC and is a CFP®, ChFC®, and CRPC®. Past performance is no guarantee of future returns. Investing involves risk and possible loss of principal capital. The views expressed in this blog post are as of the date of the posting, and are subject to change based on market and other conditions. This blog contains certain statements that may be deemed forward-looking statements. Please note that any such statements are not guarantees of any future performance and actual results or developments may differ materially from those projected. Please note that nothing in this blog post should be construed as an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to purchase an interest in any security or separate account. Nothing is intended to be, and you should not consider anything to be, investment, accounting, tax or legal advice. If you would like investment, accounting, tax or legal advice, you should consult with your own financial advisors, accountants, or attorneys regarding your individual circumstances and needs. No advice may be rendered by ACE Wealth Partners, LLC unless a client service agreement is in place. If you have any questions regarding this Blog Post, please Contact Us. Please read our website DISCLOSURE carefully for additional information.