You do not have to annuitize. You want to make sure you select the right annuity type and features for your own unique situation, but many offer up to a 10% annual withdrawal without penalty (as long as your over 59 1/2 – otherwise you incur a tax penalty) and you do have the ability to get more (or all) but you’ll pay a surrender charge. (Please note that the annuity you purchase will probably have a penalty period for the first three to 15 years, with a sequentially decreasing percent charged against your withdrawal funds for excess withdrawals or full surrender of the contract. So you should not purchase an annuity with money you think you may need in the near term.)