What's New - October 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:

October 2009 EBRI Issue Brief - "401(k) Plan Asset Allocation, Account Balances, and Loan Activity in 2008"

October 2009 EBRI Notes - "Debt of the Elderly and Near Elderly, 1992-2007" and "The Relationship Between Union Status and Employment-Based Health Benefits"

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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
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.

Medicare Physician Services: Utilization Trends Indicate Sustained Beneficiary Access with High and Growing Levels of Service in Some Areas of the Nation. GAO-09-559, August 28. Highlights.

401(k) Plans: Policy Changes Could Reduce the Long-term Effects of Leakage on Workers' Retirement Savings. GAO-09-715, August 26. Highlights.

Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation: More Strategic Approach Needed for Processing Complex Plans Prone to Delays and Overpayments. GAO-09-716, August 17. 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.


[10/30/09]  U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions:  Hearing titled “Pensions in Peril: Helping Workers Preserve Retirement Security through a Recession” [Hearing held Oct. 29, 2009, includes links to testimonies]

[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]  The Washington Post:  “House Democrats Pull Together on Health Care

[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”]

[10/30/09]  The New York Times:  “Bill Would Extend Time to Fund Pension Plans

[10/30/09]  H.R. 3936:  “To amend the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 and the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow time for pensions to fund benefit obligations in light of economic circumstances in the financial markets of 2008, and for other purposes.” [short title: “Preserve Benefits and Jobs Act of 2009”]

[10/30/09]  Internal Revenue Service:  Further Extension of Effective Date of Normal Retirement Age Regulations for Governmental Plans [Notice 2009-86]

[10/30/09]  U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission:  Investor.gov: Invest Wisely [a new website devoted exclusively to investor education]

[10/29/09]  Watson Wyatt Worldwide:  Effect of the Economic Crisis on HR Programs [Update: October 2009]

[10/29/09]  U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging:  Hearing titled “Default Nation: Are 401(k) Target Date Funds Missing the Mark?” [Hearing held Oct. 28, 2009, includes links to testimonies]

[10/29/09]  Hewitt Associates:  “Hewitt Study Shows Nearly Half of U.S. Employees Cash Out Their 401(k) Accounts When Leaving Their Jobs” [Press Release]

[10/29/09]  The Segal Company Bulletin:  “IRS Regulations on Pension Funding and Benefit Restrictions

[10/29/09]  The Los Angeles Times:  “House Health Compromise Has ‘Public Option’ with a Catch

[10/29/09]  Kaiser Family Foundation:  “Pulling It Together: “The ‘Third School’ for Controlling Health Care Costs?” from Drew Altman

[10/28/09]  U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration:  Supplemental FAQs about the 2009 Schedule C [Form 5500]

[10/28/09]  Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation:


[10/28/09]  Retirement USA:  Re-Envisioning Retirement Security [Includes links to Oct. 21, 2009 conference materials]

[10/28/09]  Charles Schwab:  “New Charles Schwab Data Reveals Increase in 401(k) Plan Participation

[10/28/09]  Center for Retirement Research at Boston College:  The National Retirement Risk Index: After the Crash

[10/28/09]  The Los Angeles Times:

[10/28/09]  America’s Health Insurance Plans:  Individual Health Insurance 2009: A Comprehensive Survey of Premiums, Availability, and Benefits

[10/27/09] Vanguard Blog:  “401(k) Performance: The Numbers Add Up” by John Ameriks

[10/27/09] TIAA-CREF Institute Trends and Issues:  “Converting Assets to Income in Retirement: What Near-Retirees Are Thinking

[10/27/09] University of Michigan Retirement Research Center:

[10/27/09] Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development:  Disparities in Health Expenditures across OECD Countries: Why Does the United States Spend So Much More Than Other Countries? [Written Statement to Senate Special Committee on Aging by Mark Pearson, Head, Health Division, OECD]

[10/23/09]  Prudential:  Back to Basics: A Companion Report to the Study of Employee Benefits: 2009 & Beyond

[10/23/09]  Sun Life Financial:  Sun Life Financial Unretirement Index

[10/23/09]  CFO.com:  “Retirement Roulette -- As corporate finance experts hand off more responsibility to individual employees, the number of big winners and losers among those employees is growing

[10/23/09]  Towers Perrin:  Pensions and Corporate Financial Performance -- Intricately Linked

[10/23/09]  The Washington Post:  “Lawmakers Warm to the Public Option

[10/23/09]  Kaiser Family Foundation:

[10/23/09]  Massachusetts Division of Health Care Finance and Policy:  Estimates of Health Insurance Coverage in Massachusetts from the 2009 Massachusetts Health Insurance Survey

[10/22/09]  U.S. Department of Labor:  “U.S. Department of Labor’s ERISA Advisory Council Sets November Meeting

[10/22/09]  McKinsey & Company:  Restoring Americans’ Retirement Security: A Shared Responsibility

[10/22/09]  The Segal Company Bulletin:  “For 2010, IRS Dollar Limits and Social Security Wage Base Unchanged; Only PBGC Single Employer Premium to Increase, No Change in PBGC Guarantee Limit Anticipated

[10/22/09]  Milliman:  Pension Funding Index: September [Funded status decreased by $2 billion in September]

[10/22/09]  The New York Times:

[10/22/09]  Alliance for Health Reform:  A Toolkit: Health Insurance Cooperatives

[10/22/09]  America’s Health Insurance Plans:  AHIP Response: Technical Answers to Questions Pertaining to the PWC Report on the Potential Impact of Health Reform on the Cost of Private Health Insurance Coverage

[10/22/09]  Buck Consultants FYI:  “Key 2010 Medicare Values Announced

[10/21/09]  ING Institute for Retirement Research:  The Hearts and Minds of Retirement Investors…Giving Voice to Our Customers

[10/21/09]  USA Today:  “Retirement Overhaul: 401(k)s May Not Be the Answer Now

[10/21/09]  Pension Research Council:

[10/21/09]  Ceridian:  Ceridian Analyzes COBRA Enrollments in Light of a Premium Subsidy in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA)

[10/21/09]  American Benefits Council:  Comparison of the Coverage and Revenue Provisions in America’s Healthy Future Act (as approved by the Senate Finance Committee), The Affordable Health Choices Act (S. 1979, as approved by the Senate HELP Committee), and the America’s Affordable Health Choices Act (H.R. 3200, the House “Tri-Committee” Bill)

[10/21/09]  U.S. Senate Committee on Finance:  America’s Healthy Future Act of 2009 [complete text of bill]

[10/20/09]  Internal Revenue Service:  COLA Increases for Dollar Limitations on Benefits and Contributions [2003-2010]

[10/20/09]  Vanguard Center for Retirement Research:  The Aftermath: Investor Attitudes in the Wake of the 2008-2009 Market Decline

[10/20/09]  Prudential:  Redefining Defined Contribution Plans to Enhance Retirement Security

[10/20/09]  Time Magazine:  “Why It’s Time to Retire the 401(k)

[10/20/09]  The Washington Post:  “In Health Debate, Those Numbers Are Just Numbers -- The CBO’s Price Tags Are Educated Guesses, but Guesses Nonetheless

[10/20/09]  The Los Angeles Times:

[10/19/09]  The Washington Post:  “Dow 10,000: Proceed with Caution

[10/19/09]  UBS Wealth Management Research--Americas:  UBS on Retirement Planning Now - Risk: How Much Is Enough? A New Strategy for Moving Forward in a Changed World

[10/19/09]  Social Security Administration:  Information about 2010 Social Security Cost-of-Living Adjustment

[10/19/09]  MetLife Mature Market Institute:  Buddy, Can You Spare a Job? The MetLife Study of the New Realities of the Job Market for Aging Baby Boomers

[10/19/09]  American Psychological Association’s Journal of Occupational Health Psychology:  “Bridge Employment and Retirees’ Health: A Longitudinal Investigation

[10/15/09]  Internal Revenue Service:

[10/15/09]  Business Insurance:  “Retirement Plan Maximums to Remain Flat for 2010

[10/15/09]  The New York Times:  “Rethinking the 401(k) if There’s No Company Match

[10/15/09]  The Washington Post:

[10/15/09]  Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:  Finance Committee Makes Flawed Employer Requirement in Health Reform Bill Still More Problematic

[10/15/09]  American Benefits Council:  Priority Employer Issues for Senate Consideration of Health Care Reform

[10/15/09]  The Los Angeles Times:  “Is Fine in Healthcare Bill Big Enough to Ensure Coverage?

[10/15/09]  Galen Institute:  “Galen Institute Launches New Health Reform Website

[10/14/09]  Business Week [Blog]:  “What’s a More Typical 401(k) Balance: $12K or $86K?

[10/14/09]  Internal Revenue Service:  IRS Retirement Plans Navigator: An easy retirement plan guide for small employers

[10/14/09]  The New York Times:  “Republican’s Vote Lifts a Health Bill, but Hurdles Remain

[10/14/09]  Joint Committee on Taxation:  Estimated Revenue Effects of the Revenue Provisions Contained in Title VI of the “America’s Healthy Future Act of 2009,” as Amended through October 2, 2009, and Under Consideration by the Committee on Finance -- Fiscal Years 2010 - 2019

[10/14/09]  Congressional Budget Office:  Letter to the Honorable Orrin G. Hatch including an Updated Analysis of the Effects of Proposals to Limit Costs Related to Medical Malpractice (“Tort Reform”) - [Letter dated Oct. 9, 2009]

[10/14/09]  Towers Perrin:  Towers Perrin 2010 Health Care Cost Survey

[10/14/09]  PricewaterhouseCoopers:  Potential Impact of Health Reform on the Cost of Private Health Insurance Coverage

[10/14/09]  Robert Wood Johnson Foundation:  Age Rating Under Comprehensive Health Care Reform: Implications for Coverage, Costs, and Household Financial Burdens

[10/14/09]  Kaiser Family Foundation:

[10/13/09]  The New York Times:

[10/13/09]  JPMorgan Chase:  “IRS Will Permit Switchback to Smoothed Interest Rates for 2010

[10/13/09]  Principal Financial Group:  Winding Down Your Hard-Frozen Defined Benefit (DB) Plan

[10/13/09]  The Hispanic Institute for Americans for Secure Retirement:  Hispanics and Retirement: Challenges and Opportunities

[10/13/09]  Congressional Research Service:  The Fall and Rise of Household Saving

[10/9/09]  U.S. Department of the Treasury:  Open Meeting of the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Literacy; Notice of meeting [to be held Nov. 3, 2009]

[10/9/09]  Newsweek:  “Want to Retire Comfortably? Go ahead. But you’ll need at least $338,000 in savings and a clean bill of health.

[10/9/09]  U.S. News & World Report:  “How Your 401(k) Investments Stack Up

[10/9/09]  Society for Human Resource Management:  “Answers to 401(k) Questions That Matter Most

[10/9/09]  Principal Financial Group:

[10/9/09]  Hewitt Associates:  “IRS Issues Business Travel Expense Guidance

[10/8/09]  Internal Revenue Service:  Measurement of Assets and Liabilities for Pension Funding Purposes; Benefit Restrictions for Underfunded Pension Plans; Final Regulations [Regulations are effective on October 15, 2009]

[10/8/09]  The Washington Post:

[10/8/09]  Congressional Budget Office:  Preliminary Analysis of the Chairman’s Mark for the America’s Healthy Future Act, as Amended [Letter to the Honorable Max Baucus]

[10/8/09]  U.S. Senate Committee on Finance:  Chairman’s Mark: America’s Healthy Future Act of 2009

[10/8/09]  U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:  The Employment Situation -- September 2009

[10/7/09]  The New York Times:

[10/7/09]  Kaiser Family Foundation:  Side-by-Side Comparison of Major Health Care Reform Proposals [interactive comparison tool, updated 10/6/09 to reflect amendments to Senate Finance Committee proposal]

[10/7/09]  Milliman’s Client Action Bulletin:  “Interim Final Rules Prohibiting Discrimination Based on Genetic Information

[10/7/09]  Mercer:  2009 Global Defined Contribution Survey -- Results

[10/6/09]  The New York Times:  “Senate Panel Softening Insurance Penalties

[10/6/09]  The Washington Post:  “Discrimination by Insurers Likely Even with Reform, Experts Say

[10/6/09]  U.S. Departments of the Treasury (IRS), Labor (EBSA), Health & Human Services (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services):

[10/6/09]  Watson Wyatt Insider:  “Funding for DB Pension Plans in 2010 and 2011 Under Relief Proposals

[10/6/09]  The Los Angeles Times:  “401(k) Reality Check” [Opinion]

[10/6/09]  Social Security Administration:  Income of the Aged Chartbook, 2006 [released October 2009]

[10/5/09]  Social Security Bulletin:  “The Disappearing Defined Benefit Pension and Its Potential Impact on the Retirement Incomes of Baby Boomers

[10/5/09]  The Wharton School of Business, Departments of Insurance and Finance, University of Pennsylvania, & Charles River Associates:  Stable Value Funds: Performance from 1973 through 2008

[10/5/09]  Kaiser Family Foundation:

[10/5/09]  Urban Institute:  Variation in Insurance Coverage Across Congressional Districts: New Estimates from 2008

[10/2/09]  American Payroll Association:  “Getting Paid in America” Survey Results

[10/2/09]  U.S. House Committee on Ways & Means:  Hearing on “Defined Benefit Pension Plan Funding Levels and Investment Advice Rules” [Hearing held October 1, 2009, includes links to testimonies]

[10/2/09]  Cobalt Community Research:  Health and OPEB Funding Strategies: 2009 National Survey of Local Governments

[10/2/09]  Findley Davies:  Health Care Trend Survey -- 2010: Long-term Medical/Rx Trend Rates to Remain a Problem (Even if Health Care Reform is Enacted)

[10/2/09]  Kaiser Family Foundation:

[10/2/09]  The Washington Post:  “What Makes a Health Plan a ‘Cadillac’?

[10/1/09]  U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:

[10/1/09]  USA Today:  “Financial Worries Dog Older Workers; Confidence Falls

[10/1/09]  Fidelity Investments Viewpoints:  “Would You Benefit from a Roth IRA Conversion in 2010?

[10/1/09]  Center for Retirement Research at Boston College:  Making Your Nest Egg Last a Lifetime

[10/1/09]  The Washington Post:  “Senate Finance Panel Has Votes to Pass Health Bill, Baucus Says

[10/1/09]  Kaiser Family Foundation:  “Pulling It Together: The Media’s Challenge in Health Reform” from Drew Altman

[10/1/09]  The New England Journal of Medicine:  “British Lessons on Health Care Reform” [Perspective]

[9/8/09]  The White House Briefing Room:  “Weekly Address: President Obama Announces New Initiatives for Retirement Savings” [Note: The related Treasury Department/IRS retirement initiatives appear below.]

[9/8/09]  U.S. Department of the Treasury/Internal Revenue Service:  Retirement & Savings Initiatives -- Helping Americans Save for the Future

On this web page, the IRS provides guidance to make saving and choosing a retirement plan easier by:

  • Expanding opportunities for automatic enrollment in retirement plans;
  • Making it easier to save tax refunds;
  • Showing how employees can save payments they would receive for unused vacation or other similar leave in their retirement plan; and
  • Helping employees and employers understand their tax-favored rollover and other savings options, and retirement plan design options.

The IRS also provides links to all of the following published guidance on this web page:

The IRS’ web page titled “Life Events That Can Affect Retirement Savings” provides more information on major life events that can affect your retirement planning like starting a job, terminating employment, and catching up on contributions for missed years of opportunity.

Updated 10/30/09