What's New

What's New - July 1999

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What's new at EBRI this month:


An Overview of Cash Balance Plans: This feature article from the July 1999 EBRI Notes outlines the pros and cons of "cash balance" retirement plans, which have generated strong interest among employers and workers, as well as considerable news coverage.

The EBRI Issue Brief and EBRI Notes for the month of July are available online for ordering. The July Issue Brief is entitled "Employment-Based Health Insurance: A Look at Tax Issues and Public Opinion." The July Notes article is "An Overview of Cash Balance Plans."

Employee Tools: Results of the 1999 Retirement Confidence Survey (RCS) and the 1999 Small Employer Retirement Survey (SERS) show we are making progress in educating Americans about the need to make retirement savings and planning a priority, but we must do more to help. To that end, we have created two new retirement planning tools based on the results of this year’s RCS-the Retirement Readiness Rating and the Retirement Personality Profiler.

  • The Retirement Readiness Rating (R3) measures how well individual workers are doing in terms of preparing for their retirement. Individuals answer a series of 11 questions and receive tips on action items they can take that will help them improve their financial preparations for retirement.
  • The Retirement Personality Profiler asks individuals a short series of questions and then determines whether the individual is a Planner, Saver, Struggler, Impulsive, or Denier. Based on their retirement personality, the Profiler provides tips on how the individual can do a better job of planning and saving for retirement.

June 15 Release of the 9th Annual Retirement Confidence and 2nd Annual RCS Minority Surveys.  The annual Retirement Confidence Survey (RCS) gauges the views and attitudes of working and retired Americans regarding their confidence in preparing for retirement.  The RCS Minority Survey examines retirement views and attitudes of African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, and Asian-Americans.  Click here for the June 15, 1999, press release.

June 17 Release of the 2nd Annual Small Employer Retirement Survey (SERS).  The annual Small Employer Retirement Survey (SERS) gauges the views and attitudes of America's small employers regarding retirement plans and related issues.  Click here for the June 17, 1999, press release.

EBRI Research Findings for 1998-1999:

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What's new in employee benefits:

  • The American Compensation Association provides listings of human resources-related congressional bills with links to the bills and to background information on the bills.
  • Late-breaking news items from the weekly publication Business Insurance are posted every Friday before the Monday issue date.
  • Click here for the latest available issue of the Washington Status Report from the research staff of Hewitt Associates.
  • Click here for the daily edition of the Society for Human Resource Management's newspaper, HR News Online.
  • Click here for the American Compensation Association's Compensation & Benefits NEWSLINE.
  • The following items have been added to the General Accounting Office's Web site in Portable Document (PDF) format:

If a title link above no longer works, click here for the GAO Index of Reports and Testimony, FY99, and search for the report by entering words or phrases from the title. Reports will also be added to GAO's searchable WAIS database in ASCII and PDF formats within 24 hours of the original posting. Any individual report may be retrieved directly in text and PDF formats with the following URL: http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?RPTNO replacing RPTNO with the report number (e.g., GAO/OCG-98-1).

 If your computer does not already have the free Adobe Acrobat viewer software to read PDF files, click here for the one-time download necessary to read PDF publications.

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(7/29/99) How to Expand Health Care Choice and Improve Access for Working Families by Daniel H. Johnson, Jr. is available from the Heritage Foundation.

(7/29/99) Rising Costs and Reducing Access: How Regulation Harms Health Consumers and the Uninsured by Grace-Marie Arnett is available from the Heritage Foundation.

(7/28/99) SmartMoney.com, a Web site offering free investment news, tools, and advice, now offers SmartMoney University, a state-of-the-art investor education resource online. SmartMoney.com is a joint publishing venture of Dow Jones & Company and The Hearst Corporation.

(7/28/99) The Thompson Publishing Group published "Expense Arrangement Qualifies as Accountable Plan: IRS Bases Ruling on Prior Characterization of Commissions" in their Employer's Guide to Fringe Benefit Rules.

(7/27/99) Plan Sponsor has posted the June 1999 cover story, "Cash Balance Converts" and a legislative article, "Coming Clean on Cash Balance Conversions: New Legislation from Senator Moynihan Calls for Disclosure of Any Reductions in Future Defined Benefit Plan Accruals" from the same issue.

(7/27/99) The Urban Institute presents number 3 in the series, "The Retirement Project," Incentives for Early Retirement in Private and Health Insurance Plans by Daniel Dulitzky.

(7/26/99) Click here to read the 1999 American Compensation Association/Segal Company Survey of Performance-Based Work/Life Programs.

(7/23/99) A new study sponsored by the U.S. Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR), Patients in Managed Care Plans Value the Role of Primary Care Physicians but Want Them to be Coordinators, Not Gatekeepers, is available. Click here for the press release dated July 20, 1999.

(7/22/99) "Waiting for Social Security Reform" by Dick Schreitmueller and Bruce Schobel is the feature story in the July/August 1999 issue of Contingencies published by the American Academy of Actuaries.

(7/21/99) Implications of Investing Social Security Trust Funds in Financial Markets is a report prepared for the Committee on Investment of Employee Benefit Assets (CIEBA) by economists at four leading firms: Goldman Sachs & Co., Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co., J.P. Morgan, and INVESCO Global Strategies.

(7/20/99) The American Society of Pension Actuaries updates regularly a "Side by Side Comparison of House and Senate Pension Reform Bills."

(7/20/99) The Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) has released:

(7/19/99) IOMA has posted articles based on the results of the BARRA RogersCasey/IOMA 1999 DC Plan Survey:

(7/16/99) The U.S. Department of Labor released July 15 a new disclosure form with the purpose of helping companies evaluate the expenses of adopting 401(k) plans. A Look at 401(k) Plan Fees...for Employers explains the premise of the form. The 401(k) Plan Fee Disclosure Form is not legally required.

(7/16/99)The Employee Benefit Research Institute is cited in the following article: WHZ-101: Evaluating Benefits by Cynthia E. Brodrick, Staff Reporter for theWhiz.com.

(7/16/99) Click here for the "Statement of Norman P. Stein on Cash Balance Plans" presented to the ERISA Advisory Council Working Group on Cash Balance Plans July 14, 1999.

(7/16/99) The Gerontological Society of America has posted a new report: Social Security Reform and Older Women: Improving the System by Timothy Smeeding, Lou Glasse, and Carroll Estes.

(7/15/99) "Surviving the Retirement Boom" by Jane Bryant Quinn, is posted on the Thursday, July 8, 1999, Washington Post online.

(7/15/99) Old-Fashioned Pensions Disappearing, posted on July 14, 1999, from The Associated Press via the NewsEdge Corporation.

(7/14/99) The consulting firm of William M. Mercer has released retirement plan contribution limit projections for the year 2000 based on the expected level of inflation in the third quarter of 1999. Employees may be able to contribute up to $10,500 in their 401(k) and 403(b) plans instead of the current $10,000. Employers may be able to calculate pensions based on $170,000 compensation instead of the current $160,000 and use $85,000 as the pay level for determining highly paid employees instead of the current $80,000.

(7/14/99) Click here for "Compare Online Retirement Calculators" by Jane Bryant Quinn from the Tuesday, July 6, 1999, Washington Post.

(7/13/99) Click here for the National Health Expenditure Projections 1998-2008. "The National Health Expenditure Projections presented here are based on the 1997 release of the National Health Expenditures. The Projections are estimates of spending for health care in the U.S. for the years 1998-2008. The Projections are presented by type of service delivered (hospital care, physician services, nursing home care, etc.) and by source of funding for those services (private health insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, out-of-pocket spending, etc.)."

(7/12/99) Read an article from Personal Financial Planning: "Tax Planning for Health-Related Expenses" by Thomas R. Robinson And Lawrence C. Phillips.

(7/9/99) Click here to view the June 1999 Alliance For Health Reform's Issue Brief, "Employer-Sponsored Coverage: Changes in the Wind?"

(7/9/99) The U.S. House Of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means has posted the May 17, 1999, Committee Print titled: Medicare And Health Care Chartbook.

(7/8/99) The Heritage Foundation has released an executive memorandum entitled Bill Clinton's Risky Drug Plan by James Frogue.

(7/1/99) The U.S. Senate Committee on Finance held a hearing on June 30 on pension reform legislation. The list of witnesses included Tom Harkin, United States Senator from Iowa, and a panel consisting of:

  • Patrick J. Purcell, Specialist in Social Legislation, Domestic Social Policy Division, Congressional Research Service; Washington, DC
  • Rita D. Metras, Director, Total Compensation, Eastman Kodak Company, Rochester, NY, on behalf of the Association of Private Pension and Welfare Plans (APPWP)
  • Robert Hill, Esq., Trial Attorney, Denver, CO
  • Scott J. Macey, Esq., Senior Counsel, AT&T/ASA, Inc., Somerset, NJ, on behalf of the ERISA Industry Committee (ERIC)
  • Richard D. Pearce, President of Alliance Benefit Group of Delaware, Inc., Wilmington, DE, on behalf of the American Society of Pension Actuaries
  • Ann Combs, Esq., Vice President and Chief Pension Counsel, American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI), Washington, DC
  • Lou Valentino, Watson Wyatt Worldwide, New York, NY, on behalf of the National Defined Contribution Council.

(7/1/99) Click here for a January 1999, Current Trends in Public Opinion survey from Wirthlin Worldwide titled: Americans On The Job Part 2: Rebuilding The Employer/Employee Relationship.

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Updated 7/30/99