What's New - November 2009

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As a research site, EBRI Online maintains old listings in the “What’s New” page, even though some of the older links may no longer function.  If you reach a bad link, go back to the main site by deleting everything after “.com” or “.org” or ".gov" or “.net” in the address. Since we maintain www.ebri.org/ as a research and education resource, and not current news, we hope you will understand our policy and the use for which it is maintained.  We apologize for any inconvenience.

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What's new at EBRI this month:

“EBRI Now on Twitter” [EBRI Press Release, 2/6/09]

401(k) Balances and Changes Due to Market Volatility

Publications:

November 2009 EBRI Issue Brief - "Employment-Based Retirement Plan Participation: Geographic Differences and Trends, 2008"

November 2009 EBRI Notes - "Availability, Contributions, Account Balances, and Rollovers in Account-Based Health Plans, 2006-2009" and "Retirement Plan Participation and Asset Allocation, 2007"

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Sixth Edition of EBRI's Fundamentals of Employee Benefit Programs Is Now Available

New Survey Released March 19, 2008: Preparing for Their Future: A Look at the Financial State of Gen X and Gen Y - Press Release

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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:

Reports
Private Pensions: Sponsors of 10 Underfunded Plans Paid Executives Approximately $350 Million in Compensation Shortly Before Termination. GAO-10-77, October 21. Highlights.

Retirement Savings: Automatic Enrollment Shows Promise for Some Workers, but Proposals to Broaden Retirement Savings for Other Workers Could Face Challenges. GAO-10-31, October 23. Highlights.

The Federal Government's Long-Term Fiscal Outlook: Fall 2009 Update. GAO-10-137SP, October 15.

Retirement Savings: Better Information and Sponsor Guidance Could Improve Oversight and Reduce Fees for Participants. GAO-09-641, September 4. Highlights.

Testimonies
401(k) Plans: Several Factors Can Diminish Retirement Savings, but Automatic Enrollment Shows Promise for Increasing Participation and Savings, by Barbara D. Bovbjerg, director, education, workforce, and income security, before the Senate Special Committee on Aging. GAO-10-153T, October 28. Highlights.

Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation: Workers and Retirees Experience Delays and Uncertainty when Underfunded Plans Are Terminated, by Barbara D. Bovbjerg, director, education, workforce, and income security, before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. GAO-10-181T, October 29. Highlights.

If a title link above no longer works, click here for the GAO home page and search for the report by keyword or report number. Click here to browse by date,  topic, or agency.   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 Retirement Plans Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).  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.


[11/30/09]  Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation:

[11/30/09]  Pensions & Investments:  “Harsher Advice Regs May Come, Experts Worry

[11/30/09]  Towers Perrin:  Financial Crisis: “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.” [Includes survey responses from 133 U.S. corporate finance executives polled between October 6 and October 26, 2009]

[11/30/09]  The New York Times:  “Health Care Savings Could Start in the Cafeteria

[11/27/09]  Center for Retirement Research at Boston College:  Retirement Security and the Stock Market Crash: What Are the Possible Outcomes? [Working Paper]

[11/27/09]  Robert Wood Johnson Foundation:  “Consumer Confidence in Health Care Rises Sharply in October

[11/27/09]  Kaiser Family Foundation:  Assessing Congressional Budget Office Estimates of the Cost and Coverage Implications of Health Reform Proposals

[11/27/09]  The Washington Post:  “Benefits for Same-Sex Partners Are Expanding

[11/25/09]  Investment Company Institute:  The Evolving Role of IRAs in U.S. Retirement Planning

[11/25/09]  Internal Revenue Service:  Temporary Closing of the Determination Letter Program for Adopters of Pre-Approved Defined Benefit Plans [Announcement 2009-85]

[11/25/09]  Center for Retirement Research at Boston College:  401(k) Plans and Race

[11/25/09]  Kaiser Family Foundation:

[11/24/09]  Vanguard Group Research Note:  “Recovery in 401(k) Balances

[11/24/09]  Prudential:  Show Them the Value: A Companion Report to the Study of Employee Benefits: 2009 & Beyond

[11/24/09]  Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation:  Pension Protection Act of 2006; Conforming Amendments; Reportable Events and Certain Other Notification Requirements; Proposed Rule [as published in the Federal Register on Nov. 23, 2009]

[11/24/09]  Internal Revenue Service:  Notice Requirements for Certain Pension Plan Amendments Significantly Reducing the Rate of Future Benefit Accrual; Final Regulation [as published in the Federal Register on Nov. 24, 2009]

[11/24/09]  The New England Journal of Medicine:  “Medicaid and National Health Care Reform” [Perspective]

[11/24/09]  Kaiser Family Foundation:  “Pulling It Together: A Note on Presidential Leadership Strategy” from Drew Altman

[11/23/09]  Internal Revenue Service:  Retirement News for Employers [Fall 2009]

[11/23/09]  Center for Retirement Research at Boston College:  The Role of Information for Retirement Behavior: Evidence Based on the Stepwise Introduction of the Social Security Statement [Working Paper]

[11/23/09]  The Los Angeles Times:  “Senate Healthcare Vote Clears the Way for Formal Debate to Begin

[11/23/09]  The Commonwealth Fund:  Starting on the Path to a High Performance Health System: Analysis of Health System Reform Provisions of House of Representatives and Senate Health Reform Bills

[11/20/09]  U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration:

[11/20/09]  Casey, Quirk & Associates:  Target-Date Retirement Funds: The New Defined Contribution Battleground

[11/20/09]  Congressional Research Service:  Temporary Extension of Unemployment Benefits: Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC08)

[11/20/09]  The Washington Post:  “Reid Pushes for Votes on Health-Care Bill -- CBO Analysis of Public Option Is an Obstacle

[11/20/09]  Robert Wood Johnson Foundation:  A State Policymaker’s Guide to Federal Health Reform -- Part I: Anticipating How Federal Health Reform Will Affect State Roles

[11/20/09]  Congressional Budget Office:  Aging and Health: The Challenges of Entitlement Growth

[11/19/09]  The Washington Post:  “Senate Unveils Health-Care Bill -- Package Costs $848 Billion -- Reid Hopes to Bring It to the Floor by Next Week

[11/19/09]  H.R. 3590:  “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” [full text of legislation]

[11/19/09]  Congressional Budget Office:  Letter to the Honorable Harry Reid including CBO Cost Estimates for H.R. 3590

[11/19/09]  Joint Committee on Taxation:  Estimated Revenue Effects of the Revenue Provisions Contained in the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” -- Fiscal Years 2010-2019

[11/19/09]  The Associated Press (via The Baltimore Sun):  “A Comparison of Senate, House Democratic Health Care Bills [before Congress]

[11/19/09]  Towers Perrin:  “Towers Perrin’s 2010 Retiree Health Care Cost Survey Shows Continuing Affordability and Access Concerns” [Press Release]

[11/19/09]  Kaiser Family Foundation:  Access to Abortion Coverage and Health Reform

[11/19/09]  Internal Revenue Service:  The following were published in the Federal Register on November 17, 2009:

[11/18/09]  U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration:  Investment Advice--Participants and Beneficiaries; Final rule; delay of effective and applicability date [as published in the Federal Register on Nov. 17, 2009]

[11/18/09]  Aon Consulting:  “Majority of Employers with Consumer-Driven Health Plans Prefer Health Savings Accounts, Says Aon Consulting” [Press Release]

[11/18/09]  BNA Tax & Accounting:  Insights & Commentary:

[11/18/09]  Hewitt Associates:  “Point of View: What You Need to Know about Health Care Reform

[11/17/09]  Deloitte:  2009 Survey of Health Care Consumers: Key Findings, Strategic Implications

[11/17/09]  Business Roundtable:  Health Care Reform: Creating a Sustainable Health Care Marketplace [A Report to Business Roundtable by Hewitt Associates]

[11/17/09]  VerticalResponse, Inc.:  State of Small Business: Healthcare, Hiring & Funding

[11/17/09]  Mercer:  Mercer’s 2009 Global Defined Contribution Survey - Results

[11/16/09]  The Washington Post:  “Hybrid Retirement Plan in the Works -- DB(k) alongside 401(k) would provide security, guaranteed pension

[11/16/09]  Scottrade:  Scottrade Research Findings: Investors’ Insights into Retirement and Investing

[11/16/09]  Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation:

[11/16/09]  The New York Times:  “Law Seeks to Ban Misuse of Genetic Testing

[11/16/09]  Business Insurance:  “Senate Bill Would Boost, Extend Federal COBRA Subsidy

[11/16/09]  J.P. Morgan:  “Deflation and the Effect on Benefit Plan Limits

[11/13/09]  Kaiser Family Foundation:  Side-by-Side Comparison of Major Health Care Reform Proposals [interactive comparison tool, updated 11/10/09 to reflect provisions of the Affordable Health Care for America Act, H.R. 3962]

[11/13/09]  Economic Policy Institute:  Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance Erosion Continues: Unabated Declines in Coverage Since 2000 Are Expected to Worsen through 2009

[11/13/09]  Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured:  “The COBRA Subsidy and Health Insurance for the Unemployed

[11/13/09]  Sibson Consulting’s Capital Checkup:  “2010 Medicare Premiums, Deductibles and Coinsurance

[11/12/09]  Prudential’s Four Pillars of Retirement Series:  Impact of the Market Crisis on Retirement Preparedness

[11/12/09]  Center for Retirement Research at Boston College:  An Update on 401(k) Plans: Insights from the 2007 Survey of Consumer Finance [Working Paper]

[11/12/09]  The Vanguard Group Regulatory Brief:  “President Obama’s Retirement and Savings Initiative

[11/12/09]  Johns Hopkins University:  Escalating Pension Benefit Costs--Another Threat to Nonprofit Survival?

[11/12/09]  The Washington Post:  “The Retirement Problem

[11/12/09]  Internal Revenue Service:  Effective Date of Regulations Under Section § 411(b)(5)(B)(i); Relief Under § 411(d)(6); and Notice to Pension Plan Participants [Announcement 2009-82: re relief for sponsors of statutory hybrid plans that must amend the interest crediting rate in those plans]

[11/10/09]  U.S. News & World Report:  “Health Insurance: Your Health Plan After Reform -- The future points to health insurance plans that provide solid coverage for just about every American

[11/10/09]  Watson Wyatt Insider:  “Mental Health Parity: What Employers Need to Know

[11/10/09]  Congressional Research Service:  Income of Americans Aged 65 and Older, 1968 to 2008

[11/9/09]  The Washington Post:  “House Democrats Pass Health-Care Bill

[11/9/09]  Congressional Research Service:  Private Health Insurance Provisions of H.R. 3962

[11/9/09]  Wells Fargo:  “Workers Failing to Save Enough for Expected Retirement Lifestyle, Wells Fargo Study Finds” [Press Release]

[11/9/09]  Urban Institute Fact Sheet on Retirement Policy:  “Retirement Account Balances: Accumulations in Retirement Accounts, 2005 to 2009

[11/9/09]  The Segal Company’s The Fiduciary Shield:  “Benefit Plan Protection: What Insurance Policies Are Needed?

[11/6/09]  Colonial Life:  Reinvent the Enrollment Experience: How to Drive Value for Your Benefits Package [White Paper]

[11/6/09]  Prudential:  Long-Term Care Insurance: A Companion Report to the Study of Employee Benefits: 2009 & Beyond

[11/6/09]  U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging:  Target Date Retirement Funds: Lack of Clarity Among Structures and Fees Raises Concerns [Summary of Committee Research]

[11/6/09]  Sibson Consulting:  Expatriate Talent Market Trends Survey

[11/5/09]  Prudential Pension Analyst Compliance Bulletin:  “IRS Provides Guidance on Waivers of 2009 Required Minimum Distributions

[11/5/09]  Hewitt Associates:  “PPA-Related Cash Balance Plan Amendments Required by End of 2009

[11/5/09]  The New York Times:  “House Bill Would Assure Workers Paid Sick Days

[11/5/09]  The Washington Post:  “House Expected to Vote on Health Bill Saturday -- CBO: GOP Measure Would Cover Few Uninsured

[11/5/09]  Congressional Budget Office:  A Preliminary Analysis of a Substitute Amendment to H.R. 3962, the Affordable Health Care for America Act [Letter dated Nov. 4, 2009, to the Honorable John A. Boehner]

[11/5/09]  Kaiser Family Foundation:  Health Reform Subsidy Calculator - Premium Assistance for Coverage in Exchanges/Gateways [Updated 10/30/09]

[11/3/09]  National Association of State Retirement Administrators:  Public Fund Survey Summary of Findings for FY 2008

[11/3/09]  The Vanguard Group:  TIPS and the Nature of Inflation Protection

[11/3/09]  Russell Investments:  Mismeasurement of Risk in Financial Planning -- A Lesson in Risk Decomposition

[11/3/09]  Congressional Budget Office:  Letter to the Honorable Max Baucus including CBO’s Estimate of the Change in the Federal Government’s Budgetary Commitment to Health Care under Two Proposals, Fiscal Years 2010-2019 (Billions of dollars)

[11/3/09]  Kaiser Family Foundation:

[11/3/09]  National Committee for Quality Assurance:  The State of Health Care Quality 2009

[11/3/09]  Deloitte:  Medical Tourism: Update and Implications

[11/2/09]  American Benefits Council:  Assessing the Impact of Increases in Defined Benefit Plan Funding Obligations on Employment During an Economic Recession [prepared for ABC by Optimal Benefit Strategies, LLC]

[11/2/09]  National Academy of Social Insurance:  Fixing Social Security: Adequate Benefits, Adequate Financing

[11/2/09]  H.R. 3961:  “To amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to reform the Medicare SGR payment system for physicians.” [short title: “Medicare Physician Payment Reform Act of 2009”]

[11/2/09]  H.R. 3930:  “To extend for 6 months the maximum COBRA continuation coverage period for individuals who were involuntarily terminated between April 1, 2009, and December 31, 2009, and to amend the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009 to extend the eligibility period and maximum assistance period for COBRA premium assistance under such Act.” [short title: “Extended COBRA Continuation Protection Act of 2009”]

[11/2/09]  The Los Angeles Times:  “Reader Questions on House Healthcare Bill” [Q&A]

[11/2/09]  The New York Times:  “Mandates and Affordability” [Editorial]

[10/30/09]  Congressional Budget Office:  Letter to the Honorable Charles B. Rangel regarding Preliminary Analysis of H.R. 3962, the Affordable Health Care for America Act, as Introduced on October 29, 2009 [Letter dated Oct. 29, 2009]

[10/30/09]  U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means:  Affordable Health Care for America Act [Bill Summary]

[10/30/09]  H.R. 3962:  “To provide affordable, quality health care for all Americans and reduce the growth in health care spending, and for other purposes.” [short title: “Affordable Health Care for America Act”]

Updated 11/30/09