Many retirees who take a lump sum rather than opting for a guaranteed monthly annuity could be asking for trouble — a new study finds that a substantial number of them spend those lump sums within just a few years of retirement.

That's according to the MetLife Paycheck or Pot of Gold study, which finds that 21 percent of respondents who opted for a lump sum from a defined benefit or defined contribution plan say they've already spent it all.

Among that 21 percent who depleted their lump sum, the average time it took them to deplete the money was just five and a half years. And 35 percent of those who still have some of the money are worried that it will run out.

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