What's New - February 2007

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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:

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.

February 2007 EBRI Issue Brief - "How Are New Retirees Doing Financially in Retirement?"

February 2007 EBRI Notes - "Retirement Plan Participation and Asset Allocation, 2004"

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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:

Presentation by the Comptroller General
"Saving Our Future Requires Tough Choices Today" by David M. Walker, comptroller general of the United States, on the Fiscal Wake-Up Tour at Saint Anselm College, Manchester, New Hampshire. GAO-07-495CG, February 13.

Reports
Employee Benefits Security Administration: Enforcement Improvements Made but Additional Actions Could Further Enhance Pension Plan Oversight. GAO-07-22, January 18.  Highlights.

Health Information Technology: Early Efforts Initiated but Comprehensive Privacy Approach Needed for National Strategy. GAO-07-238, January 10.  Highlights.

Testimonies
Health Care Spending: Public Payers Face Burden of Entitlement Program Growth, While All Payers Face Rising Prices and Increasing Use of Services, by A. Bruce Steinwald, director, health care, before the Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies, House Committee on Appropriations. GAO-07-497T, February 15.

Children's Health Insurance: States' SCHIP Enrollment and Spending Experiences and Considerations for Reauthorization, by Kathryn G. Allen, director, health care, before the Subcommittee on Health, House Committee on Energy and Commerce. GAO-07-501T, February 15.  Highlights.

Children's Health Insurance: State Experiences in Implementing SCHIP and Considerations for Reauthorization, by Kathryn G. Allen, director, health care, before the Senate Committee on Finance.
GAO-07-447T, February 1.  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.


[2/27/07] U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration:  Mental Health Parity; Interim final amendment to regulation [published in the Federal Register on February 27, 2007]

[2/27/07] Sibson Consulting’s Capital Checkup:  "Massachusetts Moves Forward in Implementing Landmark Health Care Reform Act"

[2/27/07] HR Policy Association:  "New Studies Underscore the Value of Flexible Phased Retirement Programs"

[2/27/07] WSJ.com/Harris Interactive Survey:  "Majority of Adults Expect Retirement Income to Include Social Security"

[2/26/07] WSJ.com/Harris Interactive Survey:  "One Out of Five US Adults Have Not Taken Steps to Plan for Their Retirement"

[2/26/07] Milliman’s Client Action Bulletin:  "New Pension Mortality Tables Issued for 2007 Current Liability Calculations"

[2/26/07] Internal Revenue Service:  401(k) Plan Checklist

[2/23/07] International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans:  Health Care Reform Discussion -- The U.S. Health Care Dilemma: Who Has the Answer? [a collection of resources reflecting recent major initiatives]

[2/23/07] Benefitnews Connect:  "NCQA Performance Ratings Expanded to PPOs"

[2/23/07] Milliman, Inc.:  A 401(k) Plan That Works - The “Bundled Unbundled” Solution [White Paper]

[2/23/07] Watson Wyatt Insider:  "Looking into the FASB’s Crystal Ball: What’s on the Horizon for Phase Two of Postretirement Benefit Accounting Reform?"

[2/22/07] Profit Sharing/401(k) Council of America:  Roth 401(k) Survey 2007

[2/22/07] National Conference of State Legislatures:  Access to Healthcare and The Uninsured [includes links to 2007 Universal Health Care Bills & Proposals]

[2/21/07] Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation:  Premium Rates; Payment of Premiums; Flat Premium Rates, Variable-Rate Premium Cap, and Termination Premium; Deficit Reduction Act of 2005; Pension Protection Act of 2006; Proposed rule [published in the Federal Register on February 20, 2007]

[2/21/07] Center for Retirement Research at Boston College:  Phased Retirement: Problems and Prospects

[2/21/07] Health Affairs:  "Health Spending Projections Through 2016: Modest Changes Obscure Part D’s Impact"

[2/21/07] Center for Studying Health System Change Issue Brief:  "Benefit Design Innovations: Implications for Consumer-Directed Health Care"

[2/20/07] Tax Policy Center:  The President’s Proposed Standard Deduction for Health Insurance: An Evaluation

[2/20/07] Internal Revenue Service:  Retirement News for Employers [Volume 3, Winter 2007]

[2/20/07] American Benefits Council:  Summary of Hybrid Plan Litigation [Age Discrimination Cases]

[2/20/07] Pensions & Investments:  "Experts: DB Plans Will Survive - But P&I/ Oxford Survey Also Finds Restructuring Necessary for System to Remain Viable"

[2/16/07] U.S. Department of the Treasury:

[2/16/07] Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation:  Technical Update 07-1: Effect of Treasury Mortality Tables on PBGC Requirements

[2/16/07] Prudential Financial’s Pension Analyst:  "IRS Provides Guidance for Hybrid Plans"

[2/16/07] Towers Perrin Monitor:  "Pension Plan Funding Levels Rebound"

[2/16/07] Deloitte Consulting and the International Society of Certified Employee Benefit Specialists:  2007 Top Five Total Rewards Priorities

[2/16/07] Vanguard Center for Retirement Research:  Do Traders Win? Trading Behavior and 401(k) Portfolio Performance

[2/15/07] Business Insurance:  "Senate Panel Passes Mental Health Parity Bill"

[2/15/07] Hewitt Associates:  President Bush Proposes Significant Health Care Changes

[2/15/07] Kaiser Family Foundation:  Effects of Tying Eligibility for Health Insurance Subsidies to the Federal Poverty Level

[2/15/07] U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration: [published in the Federal Register on February 15, 2007]

[2/15/07] Prudential Financial’s Pension Analyst:  "PBGC and DOL Provide Guidance to Defined Benefit Plans"

[2/14/07] Business Insurance:  "Bush Budget Plan Would Boost HSAs"

[2/14/07] Sibson Consulting [a division of Segal]:  "Consumer-Driven Health Care: Overcoming Employee Inertia Through Full Replacement"

[2/14/07] IRS Employee Plans News [Special Edition, February 13, 2007]:  "Direct Rollovers to Nonspouse Beneficiaries - Clarification of Notice 2007-7"

[2/14/07] Pension Rights Center:  International Pensions

[2/13/07] American Benefits Council:  Preliminary Summary of the Draft Senate Mental Health Parity Bill (2/5/07)

[2/13/07] Russell Investment Group:  Russell Pension Report 2007: The Current State of Corporate Pension Provision in America

[2/13/07] Bloomberg.com:  "Bare-Bones 401(k) Plan Will Be in Vogue in 2007"

[2/13/07] S.504:  "A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to establish long-term care trust accounts and allow a refundable tax credit for contributions to such accounts, and for other purposes."  Bill Summary.

[2/12/07] The Segal Company Bulletin:  "Retirement Benefit Statements: Welcome Guidance and Relief"

[2/12/07] U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration:  Statutory Exemption for Cross-Trading of Securities; Interim final rule with request for comments [published in the Federal Register on February 12, 2007]

[2/12/07] Employee Benefit News:  "Private Investment Funds Aided by Pension Reform"

[2/12/07] Council for Affordable Health Insurance’s Issues & Answers:  "HSAs, FSAs, HRAs: Which Consumer-Driven Health Care Option Should You Choose?" [Updated January 2007]

[2/9/07] Milliman, Inc.:  Monthly Benefit News and Developments, February 2007

[2/9/07] Internal Revenue Service:  Compliance Resolution Program for Employees Other than Corporate Insiders for Additional 2006 Taxes Arising Under § 409A due to the Exercise of Stock Rights [Announcement 2007-18]

[2/9/07] Segal/Sibson:  Rewards of Work Study [Second Report of 2006 Results]

[2/9/07] Benefits & Compensation Digest:  "Developing Time Horizons for Use in Portfolio Analysis"

[2/9/07] The ERISA Industry Committee:  Value-Driven Health Care: A Purchaser Guide

[2/9/07] Kaiser Family Foundation Fact Sheets:

[2/8/07] Employee Benefit News:  "‘Progressives’ Finding Better Ways to Finance Benefits"

[2/8/07] The Commonwealth Fund:  State Strategies to Expand Health Insurance Coverage: Trends and Lessons for Policymakers

[2/8/07] Council for Affordable Health Insurance:  2007 State Legislators’ Guide to Health Insurance Solutions and Glossary

[2/8/07] Knowledge@Wharton:  "Do Americans Save Enough? It Depends on What Calculator You Use"

[2/7/07] U.S. Department of the Treasury:  General Explanations of the Administration’s Fiscal Year 2008 Revenue Proposals [“The Blue Book”]

[2/7/07] Business Insurance:  "PBGC Could Set Variable Premium Under Proposal"

[2/7/07] Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies:  8th Annual Transamerica Retirement Survey

[2/7/07] Kaiser Family Foundation Snapshots: Health Care Costs: Insurance Premium Cost-Sharing and Coverage Take-up

[2/7/07] Council for Affordable Health Insurance’s Issues & Answers:  "Answering Your Questions About Health Savings Accounts" [Updated January 2007]

[2/7/07] Center for Retirement Research at Boston College:  What Happens to Health Benefits After Retirement?

[2/6/07] U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:  Compensation Costs in State and Local Government, September-December 2006

[2/6/07] Internal Revenue Service:  Employee Plans News [Special Edition, February 1, 2007]

[2/6/07] MSN Money:  "The 5 Biggest 401(k) Blunders"

[2/6/07] BenefitNews Connect:  "Intermittent FMLA Leave Is Rare"

[2/5/07] U.S. Office of Management and Budget:

[2/5/07] U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration:  Statutory Exemption for Investment Advice [Field Assistance Bulletin No. 2007-01]

[2/5/07] Department of the Treasury Internal Revenue Service: Updated Mortality Tables for Determining Current Liability; Final Regulations [published in the Federal Register on February 2, 2007]

[2/5/07] U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:  Compensation Costs in Private Industry Up 3.2 Percent in 2006

[2/5/07] 401khelpcenter.com:  Uncovering and Understanding Hidden Fees in Qualified Retirement Plans, 2nd Edition - Published February 1, 2007

[2/2/07] U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:  Employment Cost Index-December 2006

[2/2/07] An Alliance for Health Reform Toolkit:  President Bush’s Health Coverage Plan [Resources]

[2/2/07] Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report:  "Senate Panel Passes Bill to Ban Genetic Discrimination"

[2/2/07] Urban Institute:  Would Raising the Social Security Retirement Age Harm Low-Income Groups?

[2/2/07] Principal Financial Group:

[2/1/07] Business Insurance:  "Judge Upholds Dun & Bradstreet Cash Balance Plan"

[2/1/07] Buck Consultants LegiSlate:  "Deferred Compensation Provisions in Senate Minimum Wage Bill"

[2/1/07] Congressional Research Service:  Retirement Savings: How Much Will Workers Have When They Retire?

[2/1/07] Urban Institute:  Minimum Benefits in Social Security: Design Details Matter

[2/1/07] Aon Consulting Forum:  "Aon Fall 2006 Health Care Trend Survey"

[2/1/07] UnitedHealth Group:  "New HSA Data Reveal Greater Use of the Bank Account When Employers Integrate Their Health & Financial Solutions"

[2/1/07] The Commonwealth Fund:  Slowing the Growth of U.S. Health Care Expenditures: What Are the Options?

Updated 2/27/07