What's New

What's New - July 2004

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What's new at EBRI this month:

Publications:

July 2004 EBRI Issue Brief - "Health Care Expenses in Retirement and the Use of Health Savings Accounts"

July 2004 EBRI Notes - "The Decline of Private-Sector Defined Benefit Promises and Annuity Payments: What Will It Mean?"


EBRI Spring Policy Forum - EBRI's spring Policy Forum entitled "ERISA AT 30: The Decline of Private-Sector Defined Benefit Promises and Annuity Payments? What Will It Mean?" was held in Washington, DC on May 6, 2004. Policy Forum Materials


EBRI Research Findings for 2003-2004:

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What's new in employee benefits:

  • HR News Online -- a daily update from the Society for Human Resource Management

The following items have been added to the General Accounting Office's Web site in Portable Document (PDF) format:

Reports
Social Security: Distribution of Benefits and Taxes Relative to Earnings Level. GAO-04-747, June 15.  Highlights

Comptroller General's Forum on Health Care: Unsustainable Trends Necessitate Comprehensive and Fundamental Reforms to Control Spending and Improve Value. GAO-04-793SP, May 2004.  Highlights

Testimonies
Social Security: Reform Proposals Could Have a Variety of Effects on Distribution of Benefits and Taxes, by David M. Walker, comptroller general of the United States, before the Senate Special Committee on Aging. GAO-04-872T, June 15.  Highlights

If a title link above no longer works, click here for the Find GAO Reports page and search for the report by report number,  title, abstract, agency/organization names, or subject terms.   Searches for reports can also be conducted in the General Accounting Office (GAO) Reports Online via GPO Access database.

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.


The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has established a National Call Center to serve its customers.  By calling 1-866-4-USA-DOL, America's employees and employers can find answers to questions on a range of employment issues.  This toll-free service offers live operator assistance and is a central access point for all DOL services and programs.  It serves both English and Spanish speaking callers.  The Call Center can assist workers and employers with questions about job loss, business closures, pay and leave, workplace injuries, safety and health, pension and health benefits, and reemployment rights for reservists.

 Additional Department of Labor toll-free numbers to call for questions regarding specific issues are listed below:

  •  1-877-US-2JOBS     Job Loss, Layoffs, Business Closures, Unemployment Benefits and Job   Training

  •  1-866-4-US-WAGE     Pay, Overtime, Leave and Child Labor

  •  1-800-321-OSHA     Workplace Safety and Health

  •  1-877-889-5627     TTY number for all Department of Labor Questions


The Internal Revenue Service has announced that technical or procedural questions relating to retirement plans are answered at the EP Customer Account Services site.  Answers to many questions may already be available under Frequently Asked Questions about Retirement Plans.  If not:

Call:   TE/GE Customer Account Services at (877) 829-5500 (toll-free number).
            The call center is open 8:00am to 6:30pm Eastern Time.

Write:   Internal Revenue Service
               TE/GE Division, Customer Service
               P.O. Box 2508
               Cincinnati, OH 45201

Email:   RetirementPlanQuestions@irs.gov
               Note: All questions submitted via e-mail must be responded to via telephone,
               so please remember to include your phone number in your message.


[7/30/04]  Internal Revenue Service:  “Weighted Average Interest Rates Update,” Notice 2004-51, [see p.89, Internal Revenue Bulletin, No. 2004-30, July 26, 2004]

[7/30/04]  BenefitNews.com:  "Many Believe Medicare Regs Will Make Retiree Coverage Affordable"

[7/30/04]  AARP Public Policy Institute:  State Government Retiree Health Benefits: Current Status and Potential Impact of New Accounting Standards

[7/30/04]  Hewitt Associates:  Hewitt Study Shows Companies Underestimate Cost of Leaves of Absence: Most Companies Do Not Calculate Costs or Track Utilization for Leave of Absence Programs

[7/30/04]  Ernst & Young:  Educating Pension Plan Participants: Prepared for Presentation at the 2004 Pension Research Council Symposium

[7/28/04]  U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:  HHS Proposes New Rules to Deliver Better Benefits and Savings on Drugs for Medicare Beneficiaries

[7/28/04]  Center for Retirement Research at Boston College:   An Update on Pension Data

[7/26/04]  U.S. Department of the Treasury:  Technical Notice 2004-50 [providing guidance on Health Savings Accounts].  General Information about HSAs.

[7/26/04]  U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:  Amendment to the Interim Final Regulation for Mental Health Parity [extending Mental Health Parity sunset date]

[7/26/04]  Prudential Financial’s Pension Analyst:   “Same Sex Marriages Present Challenges for Retirement Plan Sponsors

[7/26/04]  H.R.4851, Social Security Personal Savings Guarantee and Prosperity Act of 2004:  Bill Summary & Status Information

[7/23/04]  Congressional Budget Office:  Cost Estimate: H.R.3821, the Bipartisan Retirement Security Act of 2004

[7/23/04]  America’s Health Insurance Plans:  Research Findings: Long-Term Care Insurance in 2002

[7/23/04]  Center for Studying Health System Change:  Issue Brief:  “Rhetoric vs. Reality: Employer Views on Consumer-Driven Health Care

[7/23/04]  National Center for Policy Analysis:  Brief Analysis:  “Health Savings Accounts: Myth vs. Fact

[7/23/04]  U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security:  Hearing on H.R.4391, the “Public Servant Retirement Protection Act”

[7/23/04 04]  Health Affairs:  "Marketwatch: Doughnut Holes and Price Controls" [Medicare drug policy]

[7/21/04]  U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration:  Private Pension Plan Bulletin: Abstract of 1999 Form 5500 Annual Reports

[7/21/04]  Internal Revenue Service:  Deemed IRAs in Qualified Retirement Plans [Final and temporary regulations]

[7/21/04]  H.R.4849, Retirement Security for Life Act of 2004:   “To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to encourage guaranteed lifetime income payments from annuities and similar payments of life insurance proceeds at dates later than death by excluding from income a portion of such payments.”  Bill Summary & Status Information.

[7/20/04]  U.S. Newswire:  Rep. Ryan To Unveil Social Security Fix Tuesday

[7/20/04]  New York Life Investment Management:  MainStay Funds’ Fourth Annual Across Generations Survey Identifies Divergence

[7/20/04]  Business Week Online2004 Retirement Guide: “No Need To Hit the Panic Button”

[7/20/04]  Employee Benefit News:  “IRS Guidance Goes a Short Way Toward Resolving HSA Confusion

[7/19/04]  U.S. Chamber of Commerce:  Letter, Policy Statement and Position Paper dated July 7, 2004, to the Hon. John Boehner, Chairman, U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce [on cash balance and hybrid plans]

[7/19/04]  ERISA Industry Committee:  Summary of Key [Health] Policy Proposals, U.S. Senate Majority Leader William H. Frist, M.D., Address to National Press Club, Monday, July 12, 2004

[7/19/04]  The Commonwealth Fund:  Risky Business: When Mom and Pop Buy Health Insurance for Their Employees

[7/19/04]  CIGNA HealthCare:  CIGNA Survey Shows Consumers Are Embracing Information as Part of Consumer-Directed Health, Interested in Health Savings Accounts

[7/16/04]  U.S. Department of Health & Human Services:   HHS Announces Revised Medicare Obesity Coverage Policy

[7/16/04]  Business Week Online:  “An HSA: The Right Rx for You?

[7/16/04]  Council for Affordable Health Insurance:  Association Group Insurance and Association Health Plans: They Are Not the Same

[7/16/04]  The Segal Company:  Under the Radar and Over the Counter: Recent Rx Developments Affecting Coverage

[7/16/04]  Congressional Budget Office:  Cost Estimate: S.2424: National Employee Savings and Trust Equity Guarantee Act of 2004

[7/16/04]  Work Loss Data Institute:  Just Released:  “2004 State Report Cards for Workers’ Comp,” based on newly available OSHA data

[7/14/04]  Health Affairs:  “Paying for Health Care in Retirement: Workers’ Knowledge of Benefits and Expenses

[7/14/04]  Contingencies Magazine:  “Defined Cost: New Hope for Defined Benefit Plans

[7/14/04]  Urban Institute:  Distributional Effects of Defined Contribution Plans and Individual Retirement Arrangements

[7/14/04]  Business Week Online:  “The Benefits Trap

[7/13/04]  Business InsuranceTreasury HSA Guidance on Preventive Services Expected

[7/13/04]  Galen Institute:  Health Savings Accounts: New Studies Show Consumer-Directed Care Reduces Costs and Improves Access

[7/13/04]  Stateline.org:  2004 Sessions: Talk, Little Action in Most Legislatures

[7/13/04]  The Christian Science Monitor:  "Is Paid Leave Near for All US Workers?"

[7/9/04]  U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce:   Hearing on Examining Cash Balance Pension Plans: Separating Myth from Fact

[7/9/04]  The Segal Company:  IRS Guidance on HSAs and State-Mandated Benefits Laws

[7/9/04]  Aon Consulting:  The Aon Consulting/Georgia State University 2004 Retirement Income Replacement Ratio Study

[7/9/04]  The Segal Company:  FASB’s Final Guidance on the 2003 Medicare Reform Law’s Impact on FAS 106 Accounting

[7/6/04]  Society for Human Resource Management:  Skyrocketing Health Care Costs Forces Three in Four Organizations to Make Changes

[7/6/04]  Business InsurancePBGC Seeks to Poll Employers on Pension Freezes

[7/6/04]  Center for Retirement Research at Boston College:   How Can the Actuarial Reduction for Social Security Early Retirement Be Right?

[7/6/04]  Mellon’s Human Resources & Investor Solutions:  For Your Information: PBGC Clarifies Prescribed Interest Rates Through 2005

[7/6/04]  U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:  Compensation and Working Conditions OnlineStock Options: National Compensation Survey Update

[7/1/04]  U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:  Employer Costs for Employee Compensation Summary

[7/1/04]  Office of U.S. Congressman Sam Johnson:  Sam Johnson Introduces Retirement Savings Accounts.

[7/1/04]  Hewitt Associates:  Hewitt Study Shows Most U.S. Employees May Need to Work Longer and Save More for Retirement

[7/1/04]  National Conference of State Legislatures:  State Employee Health Benefits

[7/1/04]  Society for Human Resource Management:  As Economy Recovers, Benefits Level Off: SHRM Releases Its 2004 Survey of Employer Benefits

                                   


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Updated 8/2/04