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What's New - May 2005

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What's new at EBRI this month:


May 2005 EBRI Issue Brief - "Comparing Social Security Reform Options"

May 2005 EBRI Notes - "Union Status and Employment-Based Health Benefits"

Salisbury Testimony on Retirement Policy: EBRI President Dallas Salisbury testified May 19 before the House Ways and Means Committee at a hearing on retirement policy challenges and opportunities. Press release | Full testimony

Salisbury Wins PLANSPONSOR Award -- EBRI President and CEO Dallas Salisbury has received a first-ever lifetime achievement award from PLANSPONSOR magazine, a leading publication on retirement issues. 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:


What's new in employee benefits:

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

Options for Social Security Reform. GAO-05-649R, May 6.

Social Security Reform: Answers to Key Questions. GAO-05-193SP, May 2005

Social Security: Social Security: Societal Changes Add Challenges to Program Protections. GAO-05-706T, May 17.  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:

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.

[5/31/05]  Social Security Administration:  Social Security as a Retirement Resource for Near-Retirees [ORES Working Paper Series]

[5/31/05]  Social Security Administration:  OASDI Financial Effects of the Social Security Guarantee Plus Act of 2005 (H.R.750) -- InformationH.R.750, Bill Summary & Status Information

[5/31/05]  U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security:  Third in a Series of Subcommittee Hearings on Protecting and Strengthening Social Security

[5/31/05]  U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security:  Second in a Series of Subcommittee Hearings on Protecting and Strengthening Social Security

[5/19/05]  U.S. Department of the Treasury:  Treasury and IRS to Provide More Time to Spend FSA FundsText of Notice 2005-42

[5/19/05]  U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means:  Hearing on the Retirement Policy Challenges and Opportunities of Our Aging Society

[5/19/05]  Knowledge@Wharton:  "Retirement Programs Face an 'Aging-Population Tsunami'" [conference report]

[5/19/05]  MSN Money:  "Is the New Wave in Health Insurance for You?"

[5/19/05]  Wilshire Associates:  2005 Wilshire Report on Corporate Pension Funding Levels (FASB 87)

[5/19/05]  Stanford Report:  "Economists Say Medicare a Bigger Crisis Than Social Security"

[5/18/05]  Towers Perrin Monitor:  "Employee Health Care Decisions Driven by Fear and Anxiety"

[5/18/05]  Center for Studying Health System Change Issue Brief:  "An Update on Americans’ Access to Prescription Drugs"

[5/18/05]  Hewitt Associates:  Benefit Programs for Domestic Partners and Same-Sex Spouses on the Rise

[5/18/05]  U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security:  First in a Series of Subcommittee Hearings on Protecting and Strengthening Social Security

[5/17/05]  Employee Benefit News:  "Disease Management Has Become the Norm"

[5/17/05]  Employee Benefit News:  "Vendors Offer Employers a Dizzying Array of HSA Options"

[5/17/05]  U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission:  Staff Report Concerning Examinations of Select Pension Consultants

[5/17/05]  ASPPA Pension Education and Research Foundation:   Savings Under Tax Reform: What Is the Cost to Retirement Savings?

[5/17/05]  TIAA-CREF Institute Policy Brief:   "Payouts in Individual Accounts Pose New Questions"

[5/16/05]  National Conference of State Legislatures:  2005 Prescription Drug State Legislation

[5/16/05]  The Commonwealth Fund:  "Costs of Health Care: New Solutions for an Old Problem" [opinion]

[5/16/05]  Chicago Consulting Actuaries:  "Portman and Cardin Introduce Comprehensive Pension Legislation"

[5/16/05]  H.R.1960, Pension Preservation and Savings Expansion Act of 2005:  “To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to expand pension coverage and savings opportunities and to provide other pension reforms.”  Bill Summary & Status Information

[5/16/05]  H.R.1961, Pension Preservation and Savings Expansion Act of 2005:  “To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to expand pension coverage and savings opportunities and to provide other pension reforms.”  Bill Summary & Status Information

[5/16/05]  U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce, Democratic Staff:  In Aftermath of United Airlines Deal, New Legislation Would Impose 6 Month Moratorium on Transfer of Pensions to Federal AgencyH.R.2327, Bill Summary & Status Information

[5/16/05]  American Academy of Actuaries Fact Sheet:   "PBGC and United Airlines: How Does United’s Termination Affect the PBGC Deficit?News Release

[5/13/05]  St. Petersburg Times:  "Cracks Grow in Retirement Nest Eggs"

[5/13/05]  USA Today:  "Administration, Business Seeking Pension Remedies"

[5/13/05]  U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means:  Hearing on Alternatives to Strengthen Social Security

[5/13/05]  Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:  The Impact of the President’s Proposal on Social Security Solvency and the Budget

[5/12/05]  BlueCross BlueShield Association:  Association Health Plans: No State Regulation Means Loss of Protections for Consumers, Small Employers and Providers [A State by State Comparison]

[5/12/05]  Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:  "Americans Ahead in Pension Savings"

[5/12/05]  Federal Reserve Board:  Are Firms or Workers Behind the Shift Away from DB Pension Plans?

[5/12/05]  Business Insurance:  "U.K. Pension Fund Deficits Up in 2004"

[5/12/05]  Economic Policy Institute Issue Brief:   "Productivity Growth and Social Security’s Future"

[5/12/05]  Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:  New White House Document Shows Many Low-Income Beneficiaries Would Face Social Security Benefit Cuts Under President’s Plan

[5/11/05]  Milliman, Inc.:  Monthly Benefit News and Developments

[5/11/05]  Hewitt Associates:  Hewitt Study Shows Only Modest Improvement in U.S. Employees’ 401(k) Saving and Investing Habits

[5/11/05]  Business Week Online:  "Rising Tensions over Pensions"

[5/11/05]  Asbury Park Press:  "Many Businesses Offering Less-Costly Plans - More States, including New Jersey, Want to Cut Benefits Bill, Too"

[5/11/05]  Benefits & Compensation Digest:   "Selecting and Monitoring Investment Professionals"

[5/11/05]  The American Prospect Online:  "Chile Con Economy?"

[5/10/05]  Employee Benefit News:  "Second Look: High Costs and Insurer Interest Are Reviving Limited Benefit Medical Plan Reputation"

[5/10/05]  The Retirement Security Project:  Saving Incentives for Low- and Middle-Income Families: Evidence from a Field Experiment with H&R Block

[5/10/05]  Employee Benefit News:  "College Conundrum:  More Companies Are Offering Education Benefits, but Workers Do Not Take Advantage"

[5/10/05]  Congressional Research Service:  Social Security: Raising or Eliminating the Taxable Earnings Base

[5/9/05]  The Century Foundation Issue Brief:   "Understanding the Proposed Cuts to Social Security Benefits," by Greg Anrig, Jr.

[5/9/05]  Center for Retirement Research at Boston College:   "Are the Social Security Trust Funds Meaningful?"

[5/9/05]  Social Security Bulletin:  "The Changing Impact of Social Security on Retirement Income in the United States"

[5/9/05]  National Partnership for Women & Families:  Expecting Better: A State-by-State Analysis of Parental Leave Programs

[5/6/05]  National Center for Policy Analysis:  Consumer-Driven Health Care: The Changing Role of the Patient

[5/6/05]  U.S. House Committee on Financial Services:  Hearing entitled “Social Security Reform: Successes and Lessons Learned”

[5/6/05]  National Center for Policy Analysis:  Reforming Social Security: Lessons from Thirty Countries [pre-release draft]

[5/6/05]  The Segal Company:  Still Solid Funded Position of Multiemployer Pension Plans Reflects Additional Erosion

[5/6/05]  The Segal Company:  Supplement to the Report of Results of the 2004 Survey of the Funded Position of Multiemployer Plans

[5/6/05]  AARP:  The State of 50+ America 2005

[5/5/05]  BenefitNews Connect:  "Benefit Costs Slow as Employers Shift Health Costs"

[5/5/05]  Society for Human Resource Management:  "Survey: 7.5% Health Benefit Cost Increase Lowest Since ‘99"

[5/5/05]  America’s Health Insurance Plans:  Number of HSA Plans Exceeded One Million in March 2005

[5/5/05]  Mellon For Your Information:  "Bankruptcy Reform Bill Enacted"

[5/5/05]  Workforce Management:  "Taking Stock"

[5/5/05]  NBC17.com:  "Protect Your Nest Egg: Accessing Your 401(k) Account"

[5/5/05]  Forbes.com:  "Retirement Doomsday"

[5/5/05]  The Century Foundation Issue Brief:   "Fixing Social Security: Changes Do Need To Be Made, But the Choices Aren’t Hard Nor the Measures Painful," by Robert M. Ball

[5/4/05]  Business Insurance:  "Snow Defends Pension Benefit Limits"

[5/4/05]  Watson Wyatt Insider:  "Pension Reform Under Active Discussion"

[5/4/05]  Contingencies:  "Social Security Reform Using Voluntary Personal Accounts"

[5/4/05]  Contingencies:  "Intelligent Design: Voluntary Personal Accounts and the TSP"

[5/4/05]  Towers Perrin Perspectives:  "Medicare Part D: A Nuts and Bolts Look at the Next Steps"

[5/4/05]  Monthly Labor Review:  "Trends in Employer-Provided Mental Health and Substance Abuse Benefits"

[5/3/05]  Employee Benefit News:  "Workers Lack Benefits Knowledge, Mistrust Drug Makers"

[5/3/05]  Center for Economic and Policy Research Issue Brief:  "The Regressive Impact of the Progressive Indexation of Social Security Benefits"

[5/3/05]  CFO Magazine:  "When Plans Collide: Would Corporate Retirement Plans Be Threatened by the Adoption of Social Security Private Accounts?"

[5/3/05]  Employee Benefit News:  "Sharp Divisions Mark Pension Reform Debate"

[5/3/05]  403(b)wise:  The 403(b) Market

[5/3/05]  Charles Schwab Corporate Services:  Schwab Retirement Advice Indicators Reveal Encouraging Behavior Among 401(k) Users

[5/3/05]  The Vanguard Center for Retirement Research:  Retirement Investor Report Card for December 2004: Positive Gains from Rising Equity Markets

[5/2/05]  The Segal Company Compliance AlertBenefits and Compensation Features of the Consumer Bankruptcy Act

[5/2/05]  U.S. Senate Republican Policy Committee:  Retirement-Income Security: The Status of Hybrid-Pension Plans

[5/2/05]  Congressional Research Service:  Social Security Reform:   President Bush’s Individual Account Proposal

[5/2/05]  National Center for Policy Analysis Brief Analysis:   "Galveston County: A Model for Social Security Reform"

[5/2/05]  Social Security Administration:  International Update: Recent Developments in Foreign Public and Private Pensions

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Updated 5/31/05