What's New

What's New - February 2002

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What's new at EBRI this month:

The 2002 Retirement Confidence Survey (RCS): EBRI released the results of the latest survey in Washington, DC on Wednesday, February 27, 2002.  The RCS examines how well Americans think they are saving and planning for their retirement, what issues concern them, and whether age or personality types influence the way a person saves.

The executive summary of the February 2002 EBRI Issue Brief: "Workers Displaced From Employment, 1997-1999: Implications for Employee Benefits and Income Security."

The executive summary of the February 2002 EBRI Notes article: "Findings From the 2001 Health Confidence Survey."

Congressional testimony: Jack L. VanDerhei, Ph.D., CEBS, Temple University, and research director of the EBRI Fellows Program, testified February 13, 2002, at a hearing before the House Education and Workforce Subcommittee on Employer-Employee Relations titled “Enron and Beyond: Enhancing Worker Retirement Security.”  Dr. VanDerhei’s testimony is titled “The Role of Company Stock in 401(k) Plans.”

Unemployment Insurance: The February 2002 issue of Facts from EBRI, monthly fact sheets providing timely statistics on a variety of employee benefit issues.

Salisbury Testimony: The written testimony of EBRI President and CEO Dallas Salisbury, an expert witness at the February 7, 2002, hearing by the Senate Committe on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions on “Protecting the Pensions of Working Americans: Lessons From the Enron Debacle” includes a copy of the recent EBRI survey on company stock in 401(k) plans.

ASEC President Testifies: American Savings Education Council (ASEC) President Don Blandin testified before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Hearing on Financial Literacy on February 6, 2002.

EBRI Survey on Company Stock in 401(k) Plans: The EBRI survey polled members of the International Society of Certified Employee Benefit Specialists (ISCEBS) with respect to company stock investment options, whether employer contributions are required to be invested in company stock, average percentage of company stock in the employees' accounts, restrictions on selling the company stock, and blackout periods.  Additional questions examined perceptions of the Enron situation, appropriate limits for investment in company stock and the role of the government, and perceptions on public policy issues related to company stock in 401(k) plans.  Click here for Survey Results.

FEI Retirement Survey: "Barriers to Employer-Sponsored Retirement Plans" is a brief online survey for financial executives responsible for employee benefits.  The survey was developed by the FEI (Financial Executives International) Research Foundation and the FEI Committee on Benefits Finance and co-sponsored by EBRI.  To take the survey, click here.

EBRI Fact Sheet on Company Stock:  The December 2001 EBRI Fact Sheet provides background on company stock in retirement plans, drawn from the EBRI book, Fundamentals of Employee Benefit Programs, and the EBRI/ICI 401(k) database.

EBRI Research Findings for 2001:

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What's new in employee benefits:

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

Health and Welfare

Human Resources

Retirement

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

Private Pensions: Key Issues to Consider Following the Enron Collapse.  Testimony by David M. Walker, comptroller general of the United States, before the Senate Committee on Finance. GAO-02-480T, February 27, 2002.

U.S. Postal Service: Information on Retirement Plans.  GAO-02-170, December 31, 2001.

Social Security: Issues in Evaluating Reform Proposals.  Testimony by Barbara Bovbjerg, Director, Education, Workforce, and Income Security Issues, before the Senate Special Committee on Aging. GAO-02-288T, December 10, 2001.

Prescription Drugs: Prices Available Through Discount Cards and From Other Sources.  GAO-02-280R, December 5, 2001.

        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.

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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

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(2/27/02) The Cato Institute released February 19 the study titled: A Proposed Legal, Regulatory, and Operational Structure for an Investment-Based Social Security System by Karl J. Borden and Charles E. Rounds Jr.

(2/27/02) The American Academy of Actuaries has posted a press release titled “Is America Unprepared for Retirement,” dated February 25, 2002.  The press release includes highlights from the “2001 Retirement Risk Survey: Key Findings and Issues, ” released jointly by the Academy and the Society of Actuaries.  The full report, titled “Retirement Risk Survey: Report of Findings,“ dated January 2002, has been posted at the SOA site.  The survey was conducted by Mathew Greenwald & Associates and the Employee Benefit Research Institute on behalf of the Society of Actuaries.

(2/27/02) The Foundation for Enterprise Development has released a white paper titled Retirement Security and Employee Ownership: Policy Reform After Enron, dated February 15, 2002.

 (2/27/02) The U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and the Workforce Subcommittee on Employer-Employee Relations has posted the witness list and written statements from its February 13 hearing titled “Enron and Beyond: Enhancing Worker Retirement Security.”

(2/22/02) The U.S. Department of Labor’s Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration has posted information about the 2002 National Summit on Retirement Savings, to be held February 27 - March 1, 2002, in Washington, DC.

(2/22/02) Towers Perrin issued a press release on February 19 titled “Unique Combination of Capital Market Conditions and Events in 2000 and 2001 Has Major Impact on Pension Plans.”

(2/22/02) On February 21 The Pew Research Center issued a press release titled “Views of Business and Regulation Unchanged by Enron.”

(2/22/02) Medscape General Medicine features an article in vol. 4, no. 1, titled “Health Insurance for Unemployed Workers,” by Diane Rowland, and Rachel Garfield. [Note: A brief registration may be required to access the article.]

(2/19/02) “Your 401k Portal to the Web” describes 401kHelpCenter.com which has a Current Digest - Updated Daily page.

(2/19/02) The American Benefits Council provides a Summary and Comparison of Legislation Affecting Retirement Plans Investments.

(2/19/02) The Groom Law Group has posted Recent Trend in Health Care: Defined Contribution Health Care Arrangements by Christine Keller, dated February 14, 2002.

 (2/19/02) Rep. Jim McDermott introduced November 19, 2001, in the U.S. House of Representatives H.R.3341, “Putting Americans First Act.”  A Bill Summary & Status is available.

(2/19/02) Rep. Virgil Goode, Jr., introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on November 28, 2001, H.R.3364, “Health Care Coverage Assistance for the Unemployed Act of 2001.”  A Bill Summary & Status is available.

 (2/19/02) Rep. Robert Andrews introduced December 11, 2001, in the U.S. House of Representatives H.R.3445, “Retirement Enhancement Act of 2001.”  A Bill Summary & Status is available.

 (2/19/02) On December 11, 2001, Rep. Robert Andrews introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives H.R.3446, “Retirement Enhancement Revenue Act of 2001.”  A Bill Summary & Status is available.

(2/15/02) The Century Foundation announces the release of the revised 2002 edition of  The Basics: Social Security Reform.

 (2/15/02) The Council of Economic Advisers of the Executive Office of the President has released the 2002 Economic Report of the President.

 (2/15/02) "Personal Accounts and Social Security Reform" by Olivia S. Mitchell is published by the University of Michigan Retirement Research Center in the December 2001 MRRC Newsletter.

 (2/15/02) Wharton faculty discuss the pros and cons of a health insurance model based on self-directed care: In Battle to Lower Employers' Health Care Costs, Will Employees Become 'General Contractors'?

 (2/15/02) MetLife has released The MetLife Survey of American Attitudes Towards Retirement, commissioned by the MetLife Mature Market Institute and conducted by Zogby International.

(2/15/02) Rep. Charles Rangel introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on January 24 H.R.3622, “Emergency Worker and Investor Protection Act of 2002.”  A Bill Summary & Status is available.

 (2/15/02) Rep. Phil English introduced February 5 in the U.S. House of Representatives H.R.3677, “Safeguarding America's Retirement Act of 2002.”   A Bill Summary & Status is available.

 (2/15/02) Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison introduced in the U.S. Senate on February 7 S.1921, “Pension Plan Protection Act.”  A Bill Summary & Status is available.

(2/14/02) Health Affairs published February 13 a Medicare Reform Web Exclusive: “Geography And The Debate Over Medicare Reform” by John E. Wennberg, Elliott S. Fisher, and Jonathan S. Skinner.

(2/14/02) The February 13th Daily Health Policy Report from Kaisernetwork.org includes "The Uninsured | Diverse Coalition Launches Campaign Urging Health Coverage for the Uninsured."   It discusses the broad coalition of employers, unions, insurers, providers, and consumer advocates who kicked off February 12 a $10 million campaign to increase the number of Americans who have health insurance.

 (2/14/02) On February 7, 2002, Sen. Paul Wellstone introduced in the U.S. Senate S.1919, “Retirement Security Protection Act of 2002.”  A Bill Summary & Status is available.

 (2/14/02) The National Association of Pension Funds, a United Kingdom organization representing the interests of the occupational pensions movement, issued a February 12 press release titled “New Accounting Standard Puts Pensions in Peril” on a survey concerning changes to defined benefit plans.

(2/14/02) freeERISA.com offers online access to a new database of IRS Form 5310's, the form that qualified employer sponsored retirement plans must file under ERISA if they plan to terminate.

 (2/14/02) FreeDemographics.com provides free, unlimited access to U.S. Census Data.

 (2/14/02) The February 2002 issue of Employee Benefit News discusses defined contribution health plans in an article by Jill Elswick titled: "Consumer-Driven Plans Counter Criticism."  

 (2/14/02) On February 12, 2002, Allstate Financial issued a press release titled “Rising Healthcare Costs and Fear of Illness Keep Pre-retirees Up at Night,” which included highlights from its “Retirement Reality Check” survey.

(2/14/02) Rep. Dennis Kucinich introduced December 15, 2001, in the U.S. House of Representatives H.R.3415, “Employment Contract Protection Act of 2001.”  A Bill Summary & Status is available.

(2/14/02) Rep. Ken Bentsen introduced December 18, 2001, in the U.S. House of Representatives H.R.3509, “Retirement Account Protection Act of 2001.”  A Bill Summary & Status is available.

(2/14/02) On January 29, 2002, Rep. Bill Pascrell introduced H.R.3640, “Pension Protection and Diversification Act of 2002” in the U.S. House of Representatives.”  A Bill Summary & Status is available.

(2/14/02) Rep. David Bonior introduced H.R.3642, “401(k) Pension Right to Know Act of 2000” in the U.S. House of Representatives on January 29, 2002.  A Bill Summary & Status is available.

(2/13/02) abcNews.com has posted The Psychology of the Pocketbook: Why Do People Lose Their Life Savings? Behaviorial Economists Say They Know, an original report by Peter Dizikes.

(2/13/02) The U.S. Congress Joint Committee on Taxation has released Background Information Relating to the Investment of Retirement Plan Assets in Employer Stock, dated February 11, 2002.

 (2/13/02) On February 4, 2002, Rep. Rob Portman introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives H.R.3669, “Employee Retirement Savings Bill of Rights.”  A Bill Summary & Status is available.

 (2/13/02) Cambridge University Press  announces the launch of the Journal of Pension Economics and Finance (JPEF), which will soon be available online at the Cambridge Journals Online site.  The Cambridge site will offer free online access to selected articles from the first issue.

 (2/13/02) William M. Mercer has released the latest data for periods ending December 31, 2001, from its Summary Performance of US Institutional Portfolios, which is published quarterly.

(2/12/02) Note On Proposed Change In Assumed Interest Rate For Defined Benefit Pension Plans is a February 2002 Brookings Institution paper by Peter Orszag and David Gunter.

 (2/12/02) The Profit Sharing/401(k) Council of America posted the February 10, 2002, contents of a “Chart of Legislation Affecting Company Stock.”

(2/8/02) The American Society of Pension Actuaries (ASPA) issued a white paper on retirement plan lockdowns, including survey results, on “Important Issues To Consider in Connection with Lockdowns” i.e. whether federal pension law should contain rules that restrict either the number or length of "lockdowns" of qualified pension plans. 

(2/8/02) The Center for Strategic and International Studies has released a study dated January 12, 2001, titled “The Fiscal Challenge of an Aging Industrial World: A White Paper on Demographics and Medical Technology,” by Robert Stowe England.

 (2/8/02) The Institute for Policy Innovation released on January 11, 2002, “No Risky Scheme: Retirement Savings Accounts that are Personal and Safe,” by Merrill Matthews.

 (2/8/02) The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Changes in Health Care Financing and Organization (HCFO) program published The Challenge of Managed Care Regulation: Making Markets Work? in August 2001. 

(2/6/02) The U.S. House Small Business Committee is holding a hearing on February 6, 2002, titled “Small Business Access to Health Care.”  Click here for links to opening statements and prepared testimony.

 (2/6/02) The U.S. Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs held a hearing February 5, 2002, titled “Retirement Insecurity: 401(k) Crisis at Enron.”  Click here for the witness list.  Click here for the statement by Chairman Joe Lieberman.

(2/6/02) On February 5, 2002, the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs held the first hearing in a series  titled “The State of Financial Literacy and Education in America.”  Click here for the witness list, prepared testimony, and the opening statements of committee members.   The second hearing in this series is being held on February 6, 2002.  Click here for the witness list.

 (2/6/02) The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College has just released a new Issue in Brief: "How Important Are Private Pensions" by Alicia H. Munnell, Annika Sundén and Elizabeth Lidstone.

 (2/6/02) On January 29, 2002, Rep. George Miller introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives H.R.3657, “Employee Pension Freedom Act of 2002.”  A Bill Summary & Status is available.

 (2/5/02) “President Outlines Pension Protection Plan in Radio Address.”  Click here for a Fact Sheet with background information.

 (2/5/02) Click here for FORTUNE's latest list of the 100 Best Companies to Work For: America's Top Employers.

(2/4/02) The U.S. Office of Management and Budget has released Budget of the United States Government, Fiscal Year 2003.

 (2/4/02) On January 29, 2002, the Internal Revenue Service issued a news release (IR-2002-009) titled “IRS Reminds Retirement Plan Professionals to Amend Plans by Feb. 28.”

(2/1/02) “How Design of Pension Plans Influences Employee Investments” explains the recent study of 401(k) plans entitled Defined Contribution Pensions: Plan Rules, Participant Choices, and the Path of Least Resistance by Wharton finance professor Andrew Metrick and three co-authors.

 (2/1/02) Click here for President George W. Bush’s first State of the Union address.

 (2/1/02) The State Resource Center is one of the categories of lexisONE's free Legal Internet Guide.  The guide provides links to more than 20,000 law-related links in 32 catagories.

 (2/1/02) The International Society of Certified Employee Benefit Specialists has released “Top Five Benefit Priorities for 2002.”   The survey was conducted by ISCEBS and Deloitte & Touche.

(2/1/02) Rep. Ken Bentsen introduced January 24, 2002, in the U.S. House of Representatives, H.R.3623, “Employee Savings Protection Act of 2002.”  A Bill Summary & Status is available.

 (2/1/02) Employer’s Tax Guide to Fringe Benefits: For Benefits Provided in 2002 is Internal Revenue Service Publication 15-B (revised January 2002).

(2/1/02) “Not All Benefits Are Equal at the Bottom Line” by Carol Kleiman, published January 29, 2002, in the Chicago Tribune discusses a recent study published in the Journal of Managerial Issues which deals with the effect of specific fringe benefits on the bottom line of several major U.S. corporations.

 (2/1/02) Using the Web for Employee Benefits Research: Recommended Links by David Rhett Baker, publisher, BenefitsLink, was updated January 28, 2002.

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