What's New - August 2009

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What's new at EBRI this month:

“EBRI Now on Twitter” [EBRI Press Release, 2/6/09]

401(k) Balances and Changes Due to Market Volatility


August 2009 EBRI Issue Brief - "Individual Account Retirement Plans: An Analysis of the 2007 Survey of Consumer Finances, With Market Adjustments to June 2009"

August 2009 EBRI Notes - "Health Insurance Coverage of Individuals Ages 55-64, 1994-2007" and "The Basics of Social Security, Updated With the 2009 Board of Trustees Report"


Sixth Edition of EBRI's Fundamentals of Employee Benefit Programs Is Now Available

New Survey Released March 19, 2008: Preparing for Their Future: A Look at the Financial State of Gen X and Gen Y - Press Release


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:

Health Insurance: Enrollment, Benefits, Funding, and Other Characteristics of State High-Risk Health Insurance Pools. GAO-09-730R, July 22.

Private Pensions: Alternative Approaches Could Address Retirement Risks Faced by Workers but Pose Trade-offs. GAO-09-642, July 24. Highlights.

If a title link above no longer works, click here for the GAO home page and search for the report by keyword or report number. Click here to browse by date,  topic, or agency.   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 Retirement Plans Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).  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.

[8/31/09]  Internal Revenue Service:  “COBRA subsidy recipients who later become eligible for insurance coverage should notify their former employer to avoid a penalty

[8/31/09]  Robert Wood Johnson Foundation:  Issue Brief: Impact of the Economy on Health Care

[8/31/09]  Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Urban Institute:  How Will the Uninsured Be Affected by Health Reform?

[8/31/09]  The Pew Center on the States:  Legislative Year in Review 2009

[8/28/09]  American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research:  The State of the American Worker 2009: Attitudes about Work in America

[8/28/09]  Watson Wyatt Worldwide:  The New Reality of Pension Investment Strategies

[8/28/09]  Profit Sharing/401(k) Council of America:  HR 2989, The 401(k) Fair Disclosure and Pension Security Act of 2009: Disclosures to Plan Sponsors (New ERISA Section 111(a))

[8/28/09]  Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services:  Retiree Drug Subsidy Program: Important Application Deadline Information – Updated 8/13/09

[8/28/09]  Kaiser Family Foundation:  Explaining Health Care Reform: What Are Health Insurance Subsidies?

[8/27/09]  The Segal Company:  Managing through Fiscal Stress: Results of an Online Survey [of representatives from more than 80 state and local government jurisdictions]

[8/27/09]  U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:  Breach Notification for Unsecured Protected Health Information; Interim Final Rule with Request for Comments [as published in the Federal Register on August 24, 2009]

[8/27/09]  The New York Times:

[8/27/09]  Internal Revenue Service:  YouTube Video Site [featuring videos produced by the IRS on various tax administration topics]

[8/25/09]  Vanguard Group:  Dynamics of Participant Plan Contributions, 2006-2008

[8/25/09]  The Washington Post:  “Social Security Expects No COLAs for 2 Years

[8/25/09]  The Los Angeles Times:  “The Cost of Healthcare Reform” [Q&A]

[8/25/09]  Kaiser Family Foundation:  “Pulling It Together: This Could Be the Next Big Issue in Health Reform” from Drew Altman

[8/25/09]  The Commonwealth Fund:  Paying the Price: How Health Insurance Premiums Are Eating Up Middle-Class Incomes--State Health Insurance Premium Trends and the Potential of National Reform

[8/24/09]  Segal Advisors Research Note:  “Reviewing Stable Value Funds in Light of Media Scrutiny

[8/24/09]  Hewitt Associates:  “Hewitt Analysis Shows Average COBRA Enrollments Doubled Since Subsidy Became Available in February 2009” [Press Release]

[8/24/09]  The Commonwealth Fund:  What Happened When GE Paid Employees to Quit Smoking?

[8/24/09]  The New England Journal of Medicine:  “The Regressivity of Taxing Employer-Based Health Insurance

[8/21/09]  Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies: 10th Annual Transamerica Retirement Survey: Employers

[8/21/09]  Federal Reserve Board:  New Evidence on 401(k) Borrowing and Household Balance Sheets

[8/21/09]  Business Week:  “Retirement: Goal-Based Investing Gains Traction

[8/21/09]  Kiplinger.com:  “The DB(k): Pension of the Future - When hiring picks up again, this blend of defined benefit and 401(k) features will help snag top talent

[8/20/09]  Vanguard Group:  How America Saves 2009: A Report on Vanguard 2008 Defined Contribution Plan Data

[8/20/09]  Center for Retirement Research at Boston College:  The Case for Investing in Bonds During Retirement

[8/20/09]  The Segal Company:  2010 Segal Health Plan Cost Trend Survey

[8/20/09]  Kaiser Family Foundation:  Kaiser Health Tracking Poll - August 2009

[8/19/09]  Principal Financial Group:  The Principal 10 Best Companies for Employee Financial Security

[8/19/09]  United Benefit Advisors:  “Consumer Driven Health Plans Surpass HMOs in Popularity with Employees

[8/19/09]  Center for Retirement Research at Boston College:  The Implications of Declining Retiree Health Insurance [Working Paper]

[8/19/09]  The Commonwealth Fund Issue Brief:  “How Health Care Reform Can Lower the Costs of Insurance Administration

[8/18/09]  National Academy of Social Insurance:  Economic Crisis Fuels Support for Social Security: Americans’ Views on Social Security

[8/18/09]  Center for Retirement Research at Boston College:  Are Age-62/63 Retired Worker Beneficiaries at Risk? [Working Paper]

[8/18/09]  Reish & Reicher:

[8/18/09]  Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services:  “Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Premiums to Increase Slightly – Medicare Beneficiaries May Need to Enroll in New Plans” [Press Release]

[8/17/09]  Internal Revenue Service:  Retirement News for Employers [Summer 2009]

[8/17/09]  The Los Angeles Times:  “White House Backs Off Public Healthcare Option

[8/17/09]  Sherlock Company:  Administrative Expenses of Health Plans [prepared for the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association]

[8/17/09]  The SPARK Institute:  Valuing Retirement Plan Investments Under FAS 157: The Roles of Plan Sponsors, Record Keepers, Investment Providers & Auditors

[8/14/09]  The Tax Foundation Fiscal Fact:  “Outline of Individual and Employer Coverage under House Health Care Reform Bill

[8/14/09]  Health Affairs and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Brief:  “’Shared Responsibility’: Should Employers Be Required Either to Pay a Substantial Share of Their Employees’ Health Insurance or to Subsidize Coverage of the Uninsured?” 

[8/14/09]  Sibson Consulting’s Compliance Alert:  “IRS Cycle D Retirement Plan Filings: Six Months and Counting

[8/14/09]  Watson Wyatt Worldwide:  Effect of the Economic Crisis on HR Programs [Update: August 2009]

[8/14/09]  The New York Times:  “Comparing the Health Care Proposals

[8/14/09]  The Washington Post:  “Deficit Plays into Health Reform - Bill Needs to Rein in Federal Spending, Key Lawmakers Say

[8/14/09]  America’s Health Insurance Plans:  Driving Quality Improvement and Accountability

[8/14/09]  Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Urban Institute:  Lessons for Health Reform from the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program

[8/13/09]  Milliman, Inc.:  Monthly Benefit News and Developments, August 2009

[8/13/09]  National Association of Government Defined Contribution Administrators:  National Save for Retirement Week, Oct. 18-24, 2009

[8/13/09]  Principal Financial Services, Inc.:  Rebuilding 401(k) Retirement Savings: Three Stages of Rebuilding

[8/13/09]  Vanguard Group Research Note:  “Update on Participant Behavior through June 2009

[8/12/09]  Investment Company Institute Research Fundamentals:  “The U.S. Retirement Market, First Quarter 2009

[8/12/09]  U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:  Coverage Denied: How the Current Health Insurance System Leaves Millions Behind

[8/12/09]  The New York Times:  “Survey Finds High Fees Common in Medical Care

[8/12/09]  America’s Health Insurance Plans:  The Value of Provider Networks and the Role of Out-of-Network Charges in Rising Health Care Costs: A Survey of Charges Billed by Out-of-Network Physicians

[8/11/09]  Deloitte Consulting, International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans, and International Society of Certified Employee Benefit Specialists:  401(k) Benchmarking Survey, 2009 Edition

[8/11/09]  Congressional Budget Office:

[8/11/09]  The New York Times:  “A Primer on the Details of Health Care Reform

[8/11/09]  The Wall Street Journal:  “Tax on High-End Health Plans Threatens Wider Group

[8/10/09]  NewsHour:  “Lawmakers Consider Employer Benefits Tax” [Betty Ann Bowser’s Q&A with two health policy experts, Dr. Paul Fronstin (EBRI) and Dr. Jonathan Gruber (MIT)--originally aired 8/6/09]

[8/10/09]  U.S. Joint Economic Committee:  Comprehensive Health Insurance Reform: An Essential Prescription for Women

[8/10/09]  Principal Financial Group:  Nonqualified Deferred Compensation: Understanding Plan Sponsor and Plan Participant Expectations

[8/10/09]  Ohio State University Extension Program:  Real Money. Real World. Results of the 2009 Follow-up Study [of students in grades 6-12 participating in a financial literacy program]

[8/7/09]  Investment Company Institute Research Fundamentals:  “The Economics of Providing 401(k) Plans: Services, Fees, and Expenses, 2008

[8/7/09]  Congressional Research Service:

[8/7/09]  Kaiser Family Foundation:  Side-by-Side Comparison of Major Health Care Reform Proposals [interactive comparison tool, updated 8/5/09]

[8/7/09]  Kaiser Health News:  “Will Emphasis on Prevention Bring Health Costs Down?

[8/6/09]  Principal Financial Group:  Business Owner Market Study: Understanding Benefit Practices

[8/6/09]  Center for Retirement Research at Boston College:  Should Social Security Rely Solely on the Payroll Tax?

[8/6/09]  National Conference of State Legislatures:  State Pensions and Retirement Legislation 2009

[8/6/09]  U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:

[8/5/09]  Congressional Budget Office:  Cost Estimate: H.R. 2989, 401(k) Fair Disclosure and Pension Security Act of 2009

[8/5/09]  ICMA-RC:  “House Passes National Save for Retirement Week Resolution

[8/5/09]  The Washington Post:  “A Flimsy Trust: Why Social Security Needs Some Major Repairs

[8/5/09]  The Los Angeles Times:  “Consumer Financial Protection Agency: An Overview

[8/5/09]  Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Statistical Brief #252:  “Characteristics of People Insured through COBRA versus a Current Job, 2005-2006

[8/5/09]  Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services:  “HHS Delegates Authority for the HIPAA Security Rule to Office for Civil Rights

[8/4/09]  U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:  “Employee Benefits in the United States, March 2009

[8/4/09]  U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce:  “Energy and Commerce Committee Passes Historic Health Care Reform Legislation” [Press Release]

[8/4/09]  The Los Angeles Times:

[8/4/09]  Council for Affordable Health Insurance Issues & Answers:  “Only Consumers Can Bend the Cost Curve

[8/3/09]  H.R. 3390:  “To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to waive the 10 percent penalty on distributions from certain retirement plans during periods of high unemployment” [short title: “Retirement Account Freedom Act of 2009”]

[8/3/09]  Morningstar:  Retirement Plan Service Directory [for use in identifying local and national service providers--registration required for access]

[8/3/09]  The Sentinel Group:  Financial Education in Living Color: Eliminating Inequities in 401(k) Plan Participation

[8/3/09]  Society of Actuaries:  Retirement 20/20 Call for Models -- The SOA Pension Section Council has announced a call for models to solicit ideas for new tier II retirement systems that align with the principles outlined in its Retirement 20/20 initiative. The Pension Section encourages submissions either by individuals or organizations for new tier II retirement systems that fit within the context of the social insurance system, culture, work patterns and social values in Canada and/or the United States. Click here for further information.

[8/3/09]  Families USA:  Understanding the Role of the “Exchange” or “Gateway”

[8/3/09]  MetLife:  Elevating the Value of Dental Benefits Through Employee Communications

[8/3/09]  Buck Consultants FYI:  “Medicare Secondary Payer Reporting Requirements Spur Requests for Dependent Social Security Numbers

Updated 8/31/09