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I know it might not be possible to fully answer the question without a lot more detail, but in what respect is a TIAA-CREF retirement plan an "annuity"?

Sorry, I just realized I didn't answer your question. The qualified retirement plans at TIAA-CREF are annuities. How it all works, I'm not sure and the TIAA-CREF website gives very little info. There are different investment choices that look like mutual funds, but the TIAA-CREF mutual funds are a separate entity that are available through IRAs (is your friend rolling over to TIAA-CREF IRA or does she want to move the money completely?).

Any money in the look-like-mutual-fund accounts (CREF Stock, CREF Global Equities, CREF Social Choice, TIAA-Real Estate, etc.) can be moved to a rollover IRA as soon as all the paperwork is done. Any money in the TIAA Traditional Annuity is moved over a ten year period.

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