What's New - March 2005

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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 “.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.

What's new at EBRI this month:

          Publications:

March 2005 EBRI Issue Brief - "The Impact of the Erosion of Retiree Health Benefits on Workers and Retirees"

March 2005 EBRI Notes - "Employee Tenure: Stable Overall, but Male and Female Trends Differ"


News Advisory: 2005 RCS Release on April 5 -- Results of the 2005 Retirement Confidence Survey will be released by EBRI on April 5 at 10 a.m. in Washington, DC. Press Release

New Social Security Research From EBRI -- A far greater portion of all current and future Americans would have a higher initial retiree benefit from the current Social Security program than from an individual account plan if the existing $90,000 wage cap was eliminated and all local, state, and federal workers were brought into the program to fill the projected funding deficit, a new EBRI analysis of various Social Security options shows.  But the study also shows that more of today’s younger workers would have a higher initial retiree benefit from an individual account plan than if nothing is done to reform the currently projected underfunded program. Press Release. Futher information can be found in this supplemental material

Research findings from EBRI's Social Security Research Program [includes Information and Resources for Reporters]

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:

Reports
Unemployment Insurance: Information on Benefit Receipt. GAO-05-291, March 17.

Retiree Health Benefits: Options for Employment-Based Prescription Drug Benefits Under the Medicare Modernization Act. GAO-05-205, February 14.  Highlights

Testimonies
Social Security Reform: Early Action Would Be Prudent, by David M. Walker, comptroller general of the United States, before the House Committee on Ways and Means. GAO-05-397T, March 9.  Highlights

Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation: Structural Problems Limit Agency's Ability to Protect Itself from Risk, by David M. Walker, comptroller general of the United States, before the Subcommittee on Government Management, Finance, and Accountability, House Committee on Government Reform. GAO-05-360T, March 2.  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.


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.


[3/30/05]  Business Insurance:  "Judge to Rule Soon on EEOC Retiree Benefits Regulation"

[3/30/05]  Health Affairs:  "U.S. Spending for Mental Health and Substance Abuse Treatment, 1991-2001"

[3/29/05]  HR Policy Association Policy Brief:   "Pressure Building at State Level to Compel Employers to Provide Health Insurance Coverage"

[3/29/05]  BNA Tax Management:  "IRS Proposes Regulations for Roth 401(k) Programs Starting in 2006"

[3/29/05]  Business Insurance:  "Motorola to Phase Out Pension Plan"

[3/29/05]  Columbia Business School:  Offering vs. Choice in 401(k) Plans: Equity Exposure and Number of Funds, by Gur Huberman and Wei Jiang

[3/28/05]  Employee Benefit News:  "Annuity Payout Options Emerging in 401(k) Market"

[3/28/05]  Employee Benefit News:  "HIPAA Security: The Gift That Keeps on Giving"

[3/25/05]  Center for Studying Health System Change Issue Brief:  "More Americans Willing to Limit Physician-Hospital Choice for Lower Medical Costs"

[3/25/05]  AISHealth.com:  "Employers Look to Medicare Plans for Help with Retiree Medical Coverage" [reprinted from the 3/21/05 issue of Managed Care Week]

[3/25/05]  AARP Data Digest:  "Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Disability Insurance Trust Funds: 2005 Trustees’ Projections"

[3/25/05]  Center for Retirement Research at Boston College:   "Social Security’s Financial Outlook: The 2005 Update and a Look Back"

[3/24/05]  International Society of Certified Employee Benefit Specialists:  Aon Consulting/ISCEBS Survey Shows Consumer-Driven Health Plans Becoming More Popular

[3/24/05]  Health Affairs:  "Change in Challenging Times: A Plan for Extending and Improving Health Coverage"

[3/24/05]  Workforce Management:  "After Years of Shifting Health Costs to Employees, Employers May Be Slowing Down"

[3/24/05]  Employment Policy Foundation Issue Backgrounder:   "Eliminating the Taxable Wage Cap for Social Security: Impact on Employers and Employees"

[3/24/05]  Employee Benefit News:  "Against the Grain - Social Security Reality, and Why Employers Should Care," by Richard D. Quinn

[3/23/05]  Social Security and Medicare Boards of Trustees:   Status of the Social Security and Medicare Programs:  A Summary of the 2005 Annual Reports

[3/23/05]  Social Security Administration:  2005 Annual Report of the Board of Trustees of the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Disability Insurance Trust Funds

[3/23/05]  Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services:  2005 Annual Report of the Boards of Trustees of the Hospital Insurance and Supplementary Medical Insurance Trust Funds

[3/23/05]  National Center for Policy Analysis Brief Analysis:  "Answering the Myths about Social Security"

[3/23/05]  Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:  The Life-Cycle Personal Accounts Proposal for Social Security: An Evaluation, by Robert J. Shiller

[3/23/05]  Financial Research Corporation:  FRC Projects a Healthy Outlook for Health Savings Accounts

[3/23/05]  BenefitNews Connect:  "More Firms Manage Absence through Paid-Time Off Plans"

[3/22/05]  Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:  An Analysis of Using “Progressive Price Indexing” to Set Social Security Benefits

[3/22/05]  Society for Human Resource Management:  Employers Confront Growing Confusion over Partner Benefits

[3/22/05]  Workforce Management:  "SBC Shift Shows DB Plans Aren’t Quite Dead Yet"

[3/22/05]  Watson Wyatt Worldwide Insider:  "PBGC Releases Final 4010 Regulations"

[3/21/05]  Traction: The Ernst & Young Automotive Report:   "Taking Control: A Strategy for U.S. Health Care in the 21st Century"

[3/21/05]  The Arizona Republic:  "401(k) Takes Tax Cues from Roth Accounts"

[3/21/05]  National Association of Securities Dealers:   "Putting Too Much Stock in Your Company -- A 401(k) Problem"

[3/18/05]  Watson Wyatt Worldwide:  Managing Health Care Costs in a New Era: 10th Annual National Business Group on Health/Watson Wyatt Survey Report 2005 [Executive Summary].  Press Release

[3/18/05]  Business Week Online:  "Benefit Break: Health Savings Accounts Offer Solid Coverage and Savings"

[3/18/05]  Center for Retirement Research at Boston College:   "Is Private Long-Term Care Insurance the Answer?"

[3/18/05]  U.S. Joint Economic Committee--Democrats:  The Negative Impact of Private Accounts on Federal Debt, Social Security Solvency, and the Economy

[3/18/05]  The Boston Globe:  "Pozen’s Social Security Fix Sparks Buzz"

[3/17/05]  U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:  Employer Costs for Employee Compensation-December 2004

[3/17/05]  American Academy of Actuaries:  The Administration’s Single-Employer Pension Funding Proposal

[3/17/05]  Congressional Budget Office:  An Analysis of the President’s Budgetary Proposals for Fiscal Year 2006

[3/17/05]  H.R.525, Small Business Health Fairness Act of 2005:   “To amend title I of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 to improve access and choice for entrepreneurs with small businesses with respect to medical care for their employees.”  Bill Summary & Status Information

[3/16/05]  U.S. Department of the Treasury:  Fact Sheet: President Bush’s Savings Proposals

[3/16/05]  Watson Wyatt Worldwide Insider Special Edition:   "Social Security Reform"

[3/16/05]  Principal Financial Group:  The Principal Financial Well-Being Index: Executive Summary - First Quarter 2005.   News Release

[3/16/05]  Society of Actuaries:  Survey on the Prevalence of Traditional and Hybrid Defined Benefit Pension Plans

[3/16/05]  Galen Institute:  Health Savings Accounts Taking Off in the Market - Despite Misgivings by Some

[3/16/05]  BNA Tax Management:  "Medicare’s Effect on COBRA"

[3/16/05]  Mellon NewsFlash:  "DOL Issues USERRA Notice - Requirement in Effect for Employers"

[3/15/05]  AIS Consumer-Directed Care:  "HSA ‘Landmines’ Could Cause Problems for Insurers, Employers" [reprinted from the Feb. 4, 2005 issue, of Inside Consumer-Directed Care]

[3/15/05]  Business Insurance:  "Benefits Council Urges Changes in Phased Retirement"

[3/15/05]  AARP:  Attitudes of Individuals 50 and Older toward Phased Retirement

[3/15/05]  S.540, Saving Social Security Act of 2005:   “A bill to strengthen and permanently preserve social security.”  Bill Summary & Status Information

[3/14/05]  Council for Affordable Health Insurance:  Health Insurance Mandates in the States, 2005

[3/14/05]  Employee Benefit News:  "Managing Retirement - Automatically Managed 401(k) Accounts Appeal to Employers and Employees Alike"

[3/14/05]  National Academy of Social Insurance Social Security Brief:  "Social Security: What Role for Life Annuities in Individual Accounts? Issues, Options, and Tradeoffs"

[3/14/05]  S.545, Lifetime Savings Account Act of 2005:   “A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to create lifetime savings accounts.”  Bill Summary & Status Information

[3/14/05]  S.546, Retirement Savings Account Act:  “A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide for retirement savings accounts, and for other purposes.”  Bill Summary & Status Information

[3/14/05]  S.547, “A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide for employer retirement savings accounts, and for other purposes.”   Bill Summary & Status Information

[3/11/05]  U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration:  Labor Department Proposes Rules To Help Workers in Abandoned 401(k) PlansFact Sheet

[3/11/05]  Business Insurance:  "PBGC Wants Mandatory Electronic Information Filing"

[3/11/05]  BenefitNews Connect:  "SEC Allows Mutual Funds to Charge for Market Timing"

[3/10/05]  Watson Wyatt Worldwide Insider:  "Final and Proposed Regulations for HIPAA"

[3/10/05]  Watson Wyatt Worldwide Insider:  "The Changing Nature of Defined Benefit Plans"

[3/10/05]  The Century Foundation Issue Brief:   "False Promise: How Social Security Privatization Would Sting Young Adults"

[3/10/05]  S.540:  Saving Social Security Act of 2005, “A bill to strengthen and permanently preserve social security.”  Bill Summary & Status Information

[3/9/05]  U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures:  Hearing on the President’s Proposal for Single-Employer Pension Funding Reform

[3/9/05]  U.S. Joint Committee on Taxation:  Present Law and Background Relating to Employer-Sponsored Defined Benefit Pension Plans and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (“PBGC”)

[3/9/05]  U.S. Department of the Treasury:  General Explanations of the Administration’s Fiscal Year 2006 Revenue Proposals [Blue Book]

[3/8/05]  Business Insurance:  "Universal Health Care Measure Introduced in California"

[3/8/05]  Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation:  2004 Annual Report

[3/8/05]  Employee Benefit News:  "Phased Retirement Regulations Draw Mixed Reaction from Firms"

[3/8/05]  Mellon NewsFlash:  "IRS Issues Proposed Regulations on Roth 401(k) Accounts"

[3/8/05]  American Institute of Certified Public Accountants:   Understanding Social Security Reform: The Issues and Alternatives [March 2005, 2nd Edition].   Executive Summary

[3/7/05]  Hay Group:  Six Years of Double-Digit Medical Rate Increases Has Had a Significant Impact on Employers and Employees

[3/7/05]  Employee Benefit News:  "Employer Coalition Extends Health Benefits to Uninsured"

[3/7/05]  The Urban Institute:  Recent Research Findings on Retirement and Aging from the Urban Institute

[3/7/05]  The Urban Institute:  Key Questions for Social Security Reform

[3/3/05]  BenefitNews Connect:  "Employers Survey Workers to Gauge Benefit Perceptions"

[3/3/05]  The Retirement Security ProjectRSP Launch Press Release

[3/3/05]  American Academy of Actuaries Issue Analysis:   "Pension Funding Reform for Single Employer Plans"

[3/3/05]  The Segal Company Public Sector Letter:   A Return to Actuarial Solvency: “Financial Engineering” for Public Sector Pension Plans

[3/3/05]  U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce:   Hearing on “The Retirement Security Crisis: The Administration’s Proposal for Pension Reform and Its Implications for Workers and Taxpayers”

[3/2/05]  U.S. Senate Committee on Finance:  Hearing: Financial Status of PBGC and the Administration’s Defined Benefit Plan Funding Proposal

[3/2/05]  MetLife:  The MetLife Study of Employee Benefits Trends: Executive Summary

[3/2/05]  National Academy of Social Insurance:  Options to Balance Social Security Funds Over the Next 75 Years

[3/2/05]  U.S. News & World Report:  "Many Companies Are Exploring an Increasingly Attractive Benefit for Employees: Paid and Unpaid Sabbaticals"

[3/1/05]  Hewitt Associates:  New Public Television Documentary Underwritten by Hewitt Associates Examines America’s Financial Insecurity

[3/1/05]  Mellon For Your Information:  "Is 'Third Time the Charm' for the President’s Retirement Savings Accounts?"

[3/1/05]  H.R.530, Individual Social Security Investment Program Act of 2005:  Bill Summary & Status Information

[3/1/05]  AARP Public Policy Institute Issue Brief:   "Is Financial Risk Adequately Accounted For in Social Security Reform Measures?"

[3/1/05]  CFO Magazine:  "A Tough Regulatory Environment Is Another Nail in the Coffin for Defined Benefit Plans"

[3/1/05]  Business Insurance:  "PBGC Proposes Change to Liability Payments Rule"

                         

Updated 3/30/05