They know it's important, but most have no idea how to get it: monthly income in retirement.

A TIAA-CREF survey has found that, while 84 percent of Americans say that having a check come in, guaranteed, every month in retirement is important, they haven't made the leap to one source for guaranteed lifetime income: the purchase of an annuity. Only 14 percent have actually bought one.

The TIAA-CREF 2015 Lifetime Income Survey also found that 44 percent didn't even know whether they had the option in their retirement plans to receive monthly income. And just 31 percent are looking for ways to convert retirement savings into income for life.

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