What's New - January 2007

Index to All Months                                                                                                            Return to Current Month

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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.

January 2007 EBRI Issue Brief - "Behavioral Finance and Retirement Plan Contributions: How Participants Behave, and Prescriptive Solutions"

January 2007 EBRI Notes - "Health Insurance Coverage of the Near Elderly, 1994-2005" and "IRA Assets, Contributions, and Market Share"

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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 the John Glenn School of Public Affairs, Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio. GAO-07-374CG, January 10.

"Fiscal, Social Security, and Health Care Challenges" by David M.Walker, comptroller general of the United States, at the Awakening Conference in Sea Island, Georgia. GAO-07-345CG, January 7, 2007.

Reports
Federal Employees Health Benefits Program: Premium Growth Has Recently Slowed, and Varies among Participating Plans. GAO-07-141, December 22.  Highlights.

Long-Term Care Insurance: Federal Program Has a Unique Profit Structure and Faced a Significant Marketing Challenge. GAO-07-202, December 29.  Highlights.

Testimonies
Long-Term Budget Outlook: Saving Our Future Requires Tough Choices Today, by David M. Walker, comptroller general of the United States, before the Senate Committee on the Budget. GAO-07-342T, January 11.

Prescription Drugs: An Overview of Approaches to Negotiate Drug Prices Used by Other Countries and U.S. Private Payers and Federal Programs, by John E. Dicken, director, health care, before the Senate Committee on Finance. GAO-07-358T, January 11.  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.


[1/30/07] U.S. Treasury Department Office of Public Affairs:  Making Health Insurance Affordable for More Americans -- Examples under President Bush’s Standard Deduction Health Insurance Plan

[1/30/07] Kaiser Family Foundation:  Changes in Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance - Sponsorship, Eligibility, and Participation: 2001 to 2005

[1/30/07] The Segal Group Spotlight:  "Congress Enacts Health Savings Account (HSA) Reform Package to Expand HSA Enrollment"

[1/30/07] Prudential Financial’s Pension Analyst:  "IRS Issues Final Electronic Media Rules"

[1/29/07] Schwab Retirement Plan Services:  Automating Your Retirement Plan: An Executive Guide to Automatic Features in Defined Contribution Retirement Plans

[1/29/07] Watson Wyatt Insider:  "A Return to Better Funding for Pensions in 2006"

[1/29/07] The Segal Company Bulletin:  "GASB Exposure Draft Proposes New Pension Disclosures"

[1/29/07] U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:  Union Members in 2006

[1/26/07] Workforce Management:  "Democrats Offer Health Plan of Their Own"

[1/26/07] Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report:  "Lawmakers Consider Including Association Health Plan Amendment to Minimum Wage Legislation"

[1/26/07] Office of U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions:  "Senate Adopts Sessions’s Amendment Calling for Congress to Promote Personal Retirement Savings"

[1/26/07] Internal Revenue Service:  Taxpayers Have Until April 17 to File and Pay

[1/25/07] Business Insurance:  "Proposed Health Tax Raises Many Questions"

[1/25/07] National Association of State Retirement Administrators:  Key Facts Regarding State and Local Government Defined Benefit Retirement Plans

[1/25/07] Employee Benefit News:  "In the Balance: DB Plan Sponsors Weighing Their Options in Post-PPA Environment"

[1/25/07] AARP:  Population Aging, Entitlement Growth, and the Economy

[1/24/07] The White House:  Fact Sheet: Affordable, Accessible, and Flexible Health Coverage

[1/24/07] Office of U.S. Congresswoman Judy Biggert:  "Biggert and Slaughter Announce Bi-Partisan Genetic Non-Discrimination Legislation"

[1/24/07] AXA Equitable Retirement Scope:  Retirement - A New Life after Work? -- Results for the United States, with International Comparisons

[1/24/07] Towers Perrin:  "Fortune 100 Company Pension Plans Reach Full Funding in 2006, Towers Perrin Analysis Finds"

[1/22/07] National Conference of State Legislatures:  2004-2006 State Legislation on Health Savings Accounts and Consumer-Directed Health Plans

[1/22/07] Milliman’s Client Action Bulletin:  "IRS Issues Guidance on Retirement Plan Distributions under the PPA"

[1/22/07] Profit Sharing/401(k) Council of America:  401(k) and Profit Sharing Plan Eligibility Survey 2006

[1/22/07] American Academy of Actuaries Public Policy Monograph:  Social Security Reform Options

[1/19/07] Employee Benefit News:  "Added Transit Benefits Help Employees Keep the Pedal off the Metal"

[1/19/07] Hewitt Associates:  Chronological Summary of Major Post-ERISA Benefit Legislation. Major Post-ERISA Benefit Legislation [titles only].

[1/19/07] U.S. Joint Committee on Taxation:  General Explanation of Tax Legislation Enacted in the 109th Congress

[1/19/07] U.S. Social Security Administration:  Fact Sheet on the Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance Program

[1/18/07] State Coverage Initiatives:  State of the States: Building Hope, Raising Expectations

[1/18/07] The Segal Group Spotlight:  "Green Light for Cash Balance Plans Presents an Opportunity to Conserve Cash and Lessen the Bottom-Line Impact while Maintaining or Improving Retirement Benefits"

[1/18/07] Internal Revenue Service:  Weighted Average Interest Rates Update [Notice 2007-12].  Weighted Average Interest Rate Table.

[1/18/07] Vanguard Center for Retirement Research:  Six Paths to Retirement

[1/17/07] Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report:

[1/17/07] Profit Sharing/401(k) Council of America:  Saver’s Credit Income Thresholds for 2007

[1/17/07] Employee Benefit News:  "Flipping the Switch: Tips for Moving from DB to DC"

[1/17/07] Internal Revenue Service:  Taxable Fringe Benefit Guide [January 2007]

[1/17/07] TransitCenter, Inc.:  Drive Down the Rising Cost of Commuting: Strategies for Businesses and Employees

[1/16/07] Employee Plans News [Special Edition]:  "Cycle A Determination Letters for Cash Balance Moratorium Plans Due January 31, 2007"

[1/16/07] Aon Consulting Alert:  "IRS Opens Determination Letter Program and Issues Transitional Guidance for Cash Balance and Pension Equity Plans"

[1/16/07] Employee Benefit News:  "Annuity Tax Breaks Might Boost Retirement Savings"

[1/16/07] Galen Institute:  Medicare Price Negotiations: A Resource Guide [Events, papers, and articles to help inform the debate]

[1/12/07] U.S. Joint Committee on Taxation:  List of Expiring Federal Tax Provisions, 2006-2020

[1/12/07] The Commonwealth Fund Data Brief:  "Health Care Spending: An Encouraging Sign?"

[1/12/07] Economic Policy Institute Briefing Paper:  "Health Care for America: A Proposal for Guaranteed, Affordable Health Care for All Americans Building on Medicare and Employment-Based Insurance"

[1/12/07] Internal Revenue Service:  401(k) Resource Guide - Plan Sponsors - General Distribution Rules

[1/12/07] Employee Benefit News:  "401(k) Education Efforts Target Minorities: Redefining Retirement through a Culturally Diverse Lens"

[1/11/07] Milliman, Inc.: Monthly Benefit News and Developments, January 2007

[1/11/07] Internal Revenue Service:  Miscellaneous Pension Protection Act Changes [Notice 2007-7]

[1/11/07] Employee Benefit News:  "First-Ever Analysis Grades Lifecycle Funds"

[1/10/07] Business Insurance:  "High Court to Discuss IBM Cash Balance Plan Review"

[1/10/07] The 401kWire:  "Who Are the 401(k) Industry’s Most Influential? 401kWire’s 2007 Fifty Most Influential"

[1/10/07] Center for Retirement Research at Boston College:  "What Moves the National Retirement Risk Index? A Look Back and an Update"

[1/10/07] Pension Rights Center:  Access to Multiemployer Plan Information

[1/10/07] Hewitt Associates:  2006 Legislative and Regulatory Year in Review and the Outlook for 2007

[1/10/07] The Commonwealth Fund Data Brief:  "Health Care Opinion Leaders’ Views on Priorities for the New Congress"

[1/9/07] Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report:  "Democrats Draft Bill That Would Require HHS To Negotiate Prices for Medicare Prescription Drugs"

[1/9/07] Congressional Budget Office:  Prescription Drug Pricing in the Private Sector

[1/9/07] Employee Benefit News:  "Employers Turn to Mini-Med Plans as Stopgaps"

[1/9/07] Internal Revenue Service:  Cash Balance and Other Hybrid Defined Benefit Pension Plans [Notice 2007-6]

[1/9/07] Watson Wyatt Insider:  "IRS Releases Transitional Guidance for Hybrid Plans"

[1/9/07] Workforce Management:  "State Retirement Plans Consider Automatic Enrollment" [registration may be required]

[1/8/07] Kaiser Family Foundation:  Snapshots: Health Care Spending in the United States and OECD Countries

[1/8/07] National Conference of State Legislatures:  Managed Care State Laws and Regulations, Including Consumer and Provider Protections [updated January 2007]

[1/8/07] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:  National Clearinghouse for Long-Term Care Information [new web site]

[1/8/07] HR Magazine:  "Lights Out for a 401(k) Plan"

[1/8/07] Watson Wyatt Insider:  "New Jersey Court Affirms the Rights of Same-Sex Couples"

[1/8/07] Congressional Budget Office:  Is Social Security Progressive?

[1/5/07] Watson Wyatt Insider:  "109th Congress Wraps Up -- Important Changes Ahead for 110th"

[1/5/07] Segal’s Capital Checkup:  "2007 Minimums and Maximums for High-Deductible Health Plans, Health Savings Accounts and Archer Medical Savings Accounts"

[1/5/07] Employee Benefit News:  "Benefits Managers Need to Ask Questions about Health Savings Accounts before Adopting Them"

[1/5/07] U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:  Cost of Benefits for State and Local Government Employees, September 2006

[1/5/07] Compensation and Working Conditions Online:  "Access, Participation, and Take-up Rates in Defined Contribution Retirement Plans among Workers in Private Industry, 2006"

[1/5/07] University of Michigan Retirement Research Center:  Financial Literacy and Retirement Preparedness: Evidence and Implications for Financial Education [Working Paper]

[1/5/07] Insurance Business Review Online:  "Employer Pension Contributions Will Fall in New System, Report Shows" [U.K.]

[1/4/07] The Segal Group:  2007 Reporting & Disclosure Calendar for Benefit Plans

[1/4/07] The Segal Group:  2007 Reporting & Disclosure Calendar for Multiemployer Plans

[1/4/07] U.S. Department of the Treasury:  "President Bush Signs Bill to Make Health Care More Affordable, Accessible"

[1/4/07] Milliman’s Client Action Bulletin:  "New Law Expands Flexibility of Health Savings Accounts"

[1/4/07] Congressional Budget Office:  Consumer-Directed Health Plans: Potential Effects on Health Care Spending and Outcomes

[1/4/07] Aon Consulting Alert:  "HIPAA Health Nondiscrimination and Wellness Rules Finalized"

[1/4/07] National Conference of State Legislatures:  States and Small Business Health Insurance: An Overview [Updated December 18, 2006]

[1/4/07] U.S. Department of Labor:  Periodic Pension Benefit Statements - Pension Protection Act of 2006 [Field Assistance Bulletin No. 2006-03]

[1/4/07] Buck Consultants Newsflash:  "DOL Relaxes PPA Diversification Notice Requirement for Certain Plans"

[1/4/07] Internal Revenue Service:  Pension Protection Act of 2006 [Public Law 109-280 -- Resource Materials]

Updated 1/30/07