What's New

What's New - August 2004

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What's new at EBRI this month:


August 2004 EBRI Issue Brief - "401(k) Plan Asset Allocation, Account Balances, and Loan Activity in 2003"

August 2004 EBRI Notes - "Has There Been a Shift to Small Firms? The Impact of Firm Size on Employment-Based Health Benefits" and "IRA and Keogh Assets and Contributions"

EBRI Spring Policy Forum - EBRI's spring Policy Forum entitled "ERISA AT 30: The Decline of Private-Sector Defined Benefit Promises and Annuity Payments? What Will It Mean?" was held in Washington, DC on May 6, 2004. Policy Forum Materials

EBRI Research Findings for 2003-2004:


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:

Mutual Funds: SEC Should Modify Proposed Regulations to Address Some Pension Plan Concerns. GAO-04-799, July 9.  Highlights

Social Security: Distribution of Benefits and Taxes Relative to Earnings Level. GAO-04-747, June 15.  Highlights

Comptroller General's Forum on Health Care: Unsustainable Trends Necessitate Comprehensive and Fundamental Reforms to Control Spending and Improve Value. GAO-04-793SP, May 2004.  Highlights

Social Security: Reform Proposals Could Have a Variety of Effects on Distribution of Benefits and Taxes, by David M. Walker, comptroller general of the United States, before the Senate Special Committee on Aging. GAO-04-872T, June 15.  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.

[8/31/04]  Business Week Online:  "Selling the Ownership Society: Bush & Co. Are Pitching Self-Sufficiency, Urging Voters to Take Control of Health-Care and Social Security Decisions"

[8/31/04]  Council for Affordable Health Insurance:  Health Insurance Mandates in the States, 2004

[8/31/04]  Towers Perrin:  HIPAA Security Rules: Coming Soon to a Health Plan Near You

[8/31/04]  Kaiser Family Foundation Health Poll ReportThe Public, Managed Care, and Consumer Protections

[8/31/04]  American Institute of Certified Public Accountants:   Employer-Provided Education Benefits

[8/31/04]  Investment Company Institute:  Worldwide Mutual Fund Assets and Flows, First Quarter 2004

[8/30/04]  U.S. Census Bureau:  Income Stable, Poverty Up, Numbers of Americans With and Without Health Insurance Rise, Census Bureau Reports

[8/30/04]  Health Affairs [Web Exclusive]:  "Which Medical Conditions Account for the Rise in Health Care Spending?"

[8/30/04]  Council for Affordable Health Insurance:  Kerry vs. Bush: The Future of Health Care Reform?

[8/30/04]  Business Week Online:  "Pensions on a Precipice: What Could Happen If UAL Offloads Its Retirement Plan on the Feds? Let’s Take a Look"

[8/30/04]  MSN Money:  40 Companies Sitting on Pension Time Bombs

[8/30/04]  Cato Institute:  Policy Analysis: "How to Reduce the Cost of Federal Pension Insurance"

[8/30/04]  The Segal Company:  The Final FLSA Regulations

[8/20/04]  Internal Revenue Service:  Notice 2004-50 (Revised and corrected 8/9/04) [providing guidance on Health Savings Accounts]

[8/20/04]  The Commonwealth Fund:  Issue Brief: “Will Consumer-Directed Health Care Improve System Performance?”  Press Release

[8/20/04]  U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration:  Are Firms or Workers Behind the Shift Away from DB Pension Plans?

[8/20/04]  Center for Retirement Research at Boston College:   Why Is Life Expectancy So Low in the United States?

[8/20/04]  Mercer Human Resource Consulting:  2004/2005 US Compensation Planning SurveyPress Release

[8/20/04]  Watson Wyatt Worldwide:  Nonqualified Deferred Compensation Legislation Has Broad Implications

[8/17/04]  Towers Perrin:  Making Health Care Consumerism Work -- Aligning Employer and Employee Interests

[8/17/04]  National Center for Policy Analysis:  A Brief History of Health Savings Accounts

[8/17/04]  Milliman, Inc.:  Prefunding Retiree Health Costs via VEBA-Purchased Insurance

[8/17/04]  U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration:  A Look at 401(k) Plan Fees for Employers

[8/16/04]  Society for Human Resource Management:  Employer-Sponsored Investment Advice Survey Report [sponsored jointly by SHRM, WorldatWork, and EBRI]   Press Release

[8/16/04]  Kaiser Family Foundation:  Election 2004: Health Care Issues Likely to Play Large Role in Presidential Elections

[8/16/04]  Hay Group:  2004 Hay Benefits Report

[8/16/04]  Financial Executives International:  Sarbanes-Oxley Compliance Cost Estimates Soar 62% Since January ‘04

[8/12/04]  Standard & Poor’s:  Pension Under-Funding Improves But Remains $165 Billion Short, Says S&P

[8/12/04]  Health Affairs:  "Managed Care Rebound? Recent Changes in Health Plans’ Cost Containment Strategies"

[8/12/04]  AISHealth.com:  “Many Small Employers Are Turning to HSAs for Help” [reprinted from the 8/6/04 issue of Inside Consumer-Directed Care]

[8/11/04]  Marsh Inc.:  Despite Benefit Cuts, Mid-sized Employers Outspending Large Employers on Health Care

[8/11/04]  Kaiser Family Foundation:  Views of the New Medicare Drug Law: A Survey of People on Medicare

[8/11/04]  BenefitNews.com:  “Benefit Interests Shift, Early EBN-Hay Survey Results Suggest

[8/9/04]  U.S. House. Committee on Education and the Workforce:   Defined Benefit Pension System Needs Reform [commentary by Chairman John Boehner]

[8/9/04]  Employee Benefit News:  "Selecting the Right Financial Education Provider"

[8/9/04]  Hewitt Associates:  Medicare Modernization Act: Proposed Regulations Start Filling in the Gaps

[8/9/04]  Employment Policy Foundation:  Employment Trends: “Employer Health Insurance Costs Continue to Rise

[8/6/04]  U.S. Department of Health & Human Services:  Federal RegisterMedicare Program; Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit; Proposed Rule

[8/6/04]  Kaisernetwork.org:  Election 2004: Newspapers, Broadcast Program Examine Bush, Kerry Health Care Plans

[8/6/04]  Watson Wyatt Worldwide:  Pension Plan Funding Regains Some Lost Ground, Watson Wyatt Analysis Finds

[8/4/04]  Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services:  The Retiree Drug Subsidy: More Secure Coverage for Retirees [issue paper]

[8/4/04]  Center for Studying Health System Change:  Trends in U.S. Health Insurance Coverage, 2001-2003

[8/4/04]  Committee on Investment of Employee Benefit Assets:   US Retirement Plans Combat Market Timing

[8/4/04]  Pension Research Council:  Work and Retirement Plans among Older Americans [working paper]

[8/3/04]  Internal Revenue Service:  IRS Spring Statistics of Income Bulletin Features IRAs, Individual Tax Rates, and Shares

[8/3/04]  U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration:  Understanding Retirement Plan Fees and Expenses

[8/3/04]  Governmental Accounting Standards Board:  GASB Issues Statement That Addresses Employer Reporting of Postemployment Benefits Other Than Pensions [click on “News Release” under GASB Statement No. 45]

[8/3/04]  The Segal Company:  Accounting and Financial Reporting for Postemployment Benefits Other Than Pensions: GASB’s Final Standards

[8/2/04]  U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics:   Percent of Private Industry Workers Participating in Retirement Plans, Selected Periods, 1990-2003

[8/2/04]  AcademyHealth: Issue BriefLimited-Benefit Policies: Public and Private-Sector Experiences

[8/2/04]  AARP Public Policy Institute:  The Distribution of Financial Wealth Among Boomers

[8/2/04]  Business Week OnlineCommentary: The Case of the Vanishing 401(k)s

[8/2/04]  Congressional Research Service:  The Effect of State-Legalized Same-Sex Marriage on Social Security Benefits and Pensions


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Updated 8/31/04