What's New - March 2007

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What's new at EBRI this month:

Publications:

EBRI Publishes Detailed Look at U.S. Retirement System:  With the oldest of the nation’s baby boomers turning 60 this year, the nonpartisan Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) has published an in-depth book on the U.S. retirement system and how it may change in the future.

March 2007 EBRI Issue Brief - "Employment-Based Health Benefits: Access and Coverage, 1988-2005"

March 2007 EBRI Notes - "Pension Income of the Elderly and Characteristics of Their Former Employers" and "Retirement Annuity and Employment-Based Pension Income Among Individuals Age 50 and Over: 2005"

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October 6, 2005 - Updated Ballpark E$timate Available, Americans trying to estimate how much they need to save for a comfortable retirement now have an updated and easy-to-use tool -- the Ballpark E$timate.

EBRI Fact Sheet on PBGC - A four-page fact sheet with background information, key data and charts, and information links about the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), the federal agency that insures the traditional pensions of about 44 million Americans.

Frequently Asked Questions About Benefits - This section of EBRI's Web site is designed to answer basic questions about major benefit issues and trends. It provides short, graphical answers, with links to the detailed data underlying the figure. In addition, references are provided to the relevant EBRI publication.


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 Government Accountability Office's Web site in Portable Document (PDF) format:

Presentations
"Fiscal, Retirement, and Health Care Challenges" by David M. Walker, comptroller general of the United States, before the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association's 2007 Savings and Retirement Symposium, in Washington. GAO-07-544CG, March 1. [slides]

Reports
Social Security Reform: Greater Transparency Needed about Potential General Revenue Financing. GAO-07-213, March 22.  Highlights.

Highlights of a GAO Forum: Engaging and Retaining Older Workers. GAO-07-438SP, February 28.
Highlights.

Testimonies
Private Pensions: Increased Reliance on 401(k) Plans Calls for Better Information on Fees, by Barbara D. Bovbjerg, director, education, workforce, and income security issues, before the House Committee on Education and Labor. GAO-07-530T, March 6.  Highlights.

Older Workers: Some Best Practices and Strategies for Engaging and Retaining Older Workers, by David M. Walker, comptroller general of the United States, before the Senate Special Committee on Aging. GAO-07-433T, February 28.  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 Government Accountability 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.

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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.


[3/30/07] Kaiser Family Foundation:  Kaiser Health Tracking Poll: Election 2008 - March 2007

[3/30/07] U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:  "Employer Costs for Employee Compensation--December 2006"

[3/30/07] Business Insurance:  "Universal Care Provision Moves Ahead in Massachusetts"

[3/30/07] International Society of Certified Employee Benefit Specialists and Towers Perrin:  "Medicare Part D Pushes Employers Toward Creative Solutions for Retiree Medical Strategy" [Press Release].  Survey Findings.

[3/30/07] Congressional Research Service:  Health Care Spending and the Aging of the Population

[3/30/07] Kaiser Family Foundation:  Medicare: A Primer

[3/29/07] Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services:  "Creditable Coverage Guidance and Model Disclosure Notices to be used after February 15, 2007"

[3/29/07] U.S. Census Bureau:  "Census Bureau Revises 2004 and 2005 Health Insurance Coverage Estimates"

[3/29/07] Watson Wyatt Insider:  "DOL Releases Guidance on PTE for Investment Advice"

[3/29/07] Congressional Research Service:  The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation and Single-Employer Plan Terminations

[3/28/07] Internal Revenue Service:  Employee Plans News [Volume 7/Spring 2007]

[3/28/07] Towers Perrin:  Spotlight on 2007 Health Care Cost Survey

[3/28/07] U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health:  Hearing on "Mental Health and Substance Abuse Parity" [includes links to testimonies]

[3/28/07] Public Broadcasting Service:  The Boomer Century: 1946-2046 [PBS documentary premiering March 28, 2007]

[3/28/07] Survey of Current Business:  "Alternative Measures of Personal SavingExcerpt: "The alternative measures of personal saving discussed in this article differ from the NIPA measure in the way that they measure consumption or disposable personal income. However, they are still calculated as the residual that remains after consumption and related outlays are subtracted from disposable personal income." (U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis)

[3/27/07] The Century Foundation:  "Universal Health Care Momentum Swells"

[3/27/07] The Adviser:  "Oral Contraception Coverage Not Required"

[3/27/07] The Commonwealth Fund:  States in Action: A Bimonthly Look at Innovations in Health Policy

[3/27/07] Hewitt Associates:  "IRS Issues Guidance on PPA Changes to Code Section 404 Deduction Limits"

[3/27/07] University of Michigan Retirement Research Center:  Projecting Behavioral Responses to the Next Generation of Retirement Policies [Abstract]. Full Paper.

[3/27/07] American Academy of Actuaries Issue Brief:  "Investing Social Security Assets in the Securities Markets"

[3/23/07] U.S. Joint Committee on Taxation:  Estimating the Revenue Effects of the Administration’s Fiscal Year 2008 Proposal Providing a Standard Deduction for Health Insurance: Modeling and Assumptions [JCX-17-07]

[3/23/07] Principal Financial Group:  The Total View: 2006 Retirement Plan Trends [Overview]

[3/22/07] International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans: National Employee Benefits Day, April 2, 2007 - 2007 Theme: Financial Literacy

[3/22/07] EmployeeBenefitAdviser.com:  "Workers Doubt Health Info from Employers"

[3/22/07] Congressional Budget Office Cost EstimateS.558: Mental Health Parity Act of 2007

[3/22/07] Business Insurance:  "DOE May Reinstate Contractor DB Policy"

[3/22/07] Watson Wyatt Insider:  "IRS Releases New Mortality Tables for 2007 Plan Years"

[3/21/07] Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report:  "Massachusetts Officials Recommend Universal Health Insurance Law Revisions"

[3/21/07] Watson Wyatt Insider:  "Default Investment Options in Defined Contribution Plans: A Simple Comparison"

[3/21/07] Benefits & Compensation Digest:  "Economic Analysis in ERISA Class Actions Involving Employee Investments in Company Stock"

[3/21/07] Center for Retirement Research at Boston College:  The Recent Trend Towards Later Retirement

[3/20/07] The Commonwealth Fund:

[3/20/07] U.S. House Committee on Education and Labor, Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions: Hearing on “Examining Innovative Approaches to Covering the Uninsured Through Employer-Provided Health Benefits

[3/20/07] Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation:  Qualified Domestic Relations Orders & PBGC [Booklet]

[3/20/07] U.S. Chamber of Commerce:  Commission on the Regulation of U.S. Capital Markets in the 21st Century -- Report and Recommendations [Executive Summary].  Full Report.

[3/19/07] BenefitNews.com:  "Voluntary Benefits Vary Across Industries: Unum Study"

[3/19/07] U.S. Department of the Treasury:  First Periodic Update of the 2006-2007 Priority Guidance Plan

[3/19/07] Contingencies:  "In Annuities We Trust: Annuity Markets and Pension Reform"

[3/19/07] U.S. Joint Committee on Taxation:  Selected Data Related to the Federal Tax System [JCX-11-07]

[3/19/07] U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:  Consumer Expenditures in 2005

[3/16/07] National Business Group on Health:  "More Companies Offering Consumer-Directed Health Plans, Watson Wyatt/National Business Group on Health Survey Finds"

[3/16/07] Robert Wood Johnson Foundation:  "Fewer Employers Offer Lower Income Parents Health Coverage" [News Release]. Whose Kids Are Covered? A State-by-State Look at Uninsured Children [Full Report]

[3/16/07] Congressional Research Service:  Genetic Discrimination: Overview of the Issue and Proposed Legislation

[3/16/07] U.S. Senate Committee on Finance:  Hearing on "Charting a Course for Health Care Reform: Moving Toward Universal Coverage" [includes links to testimonies]

[3/16/07] TIAA-CREF Institute Trends and Issues:  "Early Retiree Health Insurance Issues"

[3/16/07] Internal Revenue Service:  Certain Deduction Limits under the Pension Protection Act of 2006 [Notice 2007-28}

[3/13/07] Fidelity Research Institute:  "Fidelity Research Institute Retirement Index Finds Working Americans on Track to Replace 58 Percent of Income in Retirement" [News Announcement]  2007 Research Findings Summary.

[3/13/07] BlueCross BlueShield Association:  2007 Medical Cost Reference Guide: Facts and Trends Supporting Knowledge-Driven Solutions

[3/13/07] California HealthCare Foundation:  Personal Health Records: Employers Proceed with Caution

[3/13/07] Center for Retirement Research at Boston College:  Social Security Spouse and Survivor Benefits for the Modern Family [Working Paper]

[3/12/07] Milliman, Inc.:  Monthly Benefit News and Developments, March 2007

[3/12/07] Governmental Accounting Standards Board:  GASB Statement 45 on OPEB Accounting by Governments -- A Few Basic Questions and Answers

[3/12/07] PriceWaterhouseCoopers’ Trendsetter Barometer:  "Few Private Company CEOs Are Knowledgeable about the New 2006 Pension Protection Act - Only 5% of ‘Trendsetter’ Firms Will Take Advantage of the New Act and Move to Automatic 401(k) Enrollments"

[3/12/07] Council for Affordable Health Insurance’s Trends & Ends:  "Trends in State Mandated Benefits, 2007"

[3/9/07] Towers Perrin:  "Towers Perrin Survey Shows Neither Employers Nor Employees Are Getting What They Need from Current Benefit Programs" [News Release]

[3/9/07] AARP Public Policy Institute:  The Behavioral Economics of Retirement Savings Behavior

[3/9/07] Business Insurance:  "Mental Health Parity Bill Introduced in House"

[3/9/07] Watson Wyatt Insider:  "President and Others Propose Big Changes for Health Care"

[3/8/07] Kaiser Family Foundation Snapshots:  "Health Care Costs: How Changes in Medical Technology Affect Health Care Costs"

[3/8/07] Council for Affordable Health Insurance’s Issues & Answers:  "What Everyone Should Know About Reinsurance"

[3/8/07] Center for Retirement Research at Boston College:  Will People Be Healthy Enough to Work Longer?

[3/8/07] Milliman’s Client Action Bulletin:  "DOL Issues Guidance on Providing Investment Advice to Participants"

[3/8/07] Employee Benefit News:  "Legal Uncertainty Stifles Phased Retirement"

[3/8/07] Treasury & Risk:  "FASB Is Kicking Off Phase Two in Its Work on FAS 158"

[3/7/07] U.S. House Committee on Education and Labor:  "Hidden Fees Are Cutting Into Workers’ 401(k) Balances, Experts Tell Education and Labor Committee" [a news release with links to testimonies]

[3/7/07] Health Coverage Coalition for the Uninsured:  Expanding Health Care Coverage in the United States: A Historic Agreement

[3/7/07] Employee Benefit News:  "Short and Sweet: Short-Term Medical Provides Alternative Solution to Eligibility Gaps"

[3/7/07] Aon Consulting Forum:  "Full Mental Health Parity--Has Its Time Come?"

[3/7/07] U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration:  Interim Final Rule Relating to Time and Order of Issuance of Domestic Relations Orders; Interim final rule with request for comments [published in the Federal Register on March 7, 2007]

[3/7/07] Center for Retirement Research at Boston College:  How Economic Security Changes During Retirement [Working Paper]

[3/6/07] Hewitt Associates:  Health Savings Accounts: A 2007 Discussion Guide for Employers and Employees

[3/6/07] Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report:  "EEOC Defends Rule to Limit, Eliminate Some Retirement Benefits"

[3/6/07] National Center for Employee Ownership:  "New Data Show Widespread Employee Ownership in U.S."

[3/6/07] Urban Institute:  Annuitized Wealth and Consumption at Older Ages [Discussion Paper]

[3/2/07] BenefitNews Connect:  "Employers Continue to Spend More on Benefits"

[3/2/07] U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:  Medical Plan Type, Fee Arrangement, and Financial Intermediaries, 2006

[3/2/07] Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report:  "New England States Work to Develop Universal Health Care Systems"

[3/2/07] International Society of Certified Employee Benefit Specialists:  What’s Happening with Disability Plans?

[3/2/07] MetLife:  The MetLife Study of the American Dream: Against the Backdrop of the Financial Burden Shift

[3/1/07] The Segal Company:  Expected Improvement in the Funded Position of Multiemployer Pension Plans

[3/1/07] Internal Revenue Service:  403(b) Plan Checklist

[3/1/07] HR Magazine:  "Coupling Financial Advice to Your Retirement Plan"

[3/1/07] Pension Rights Center:  A New Type of Savings Plan: The Roth 401(k)

[3/1/07] Employment Policies Institute:  Comparing the Effects of Health Insurance Reform Proposals: Employer Mandates, Medicaid Expansions, and Tax Credits - OverviewFull Study.

[3/1/07] Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report:  "Automakers’ Health Care Costs to Exceed Savings from Concessions"

Updated 3/30/07