What's New - August 2010

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What's new at EBRI this month:

New EBRI Blog Is Now Live! [March 23, 2010]

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

401(k) Balances and Changes Due to Market Volatility


August 2010 EBRI Issue Brief - "What Do We Really Know About Consumer-Driven Health Plans?"

August 2010 EBRI Notes - "Coverage of Dependent Children to Age 26 Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act" and "EBRI's Spring Policy Forum: Retirement Income Adequacy--How Big Is the Gap and How Might the Market Respond?"


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:

Consumer-Directed Health Plans:  Health Status, Spending, and Utilization of Enrollees in Plans Based on Health Reimbursement Arrangements.  GAO-10-616, July 16. Highlights.

Defined Benefit Pension Plans: Plans Face Valuation and Other Challenges When Investing in Hedge Funds and Private Equity, by Barbara Bovbjerg, managing director, education, workforce, and income security issues, before the Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions, Committee on Education and Labor, House of Representatives.  GAO-10-915T, July 20.


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.

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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 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.

[8/31/10]  U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration:

[8/31/10]  Kaiser Family Foundation:  Kaiser Health Tracking Poll -- August 2010

[8/31/10]  The New York Times:  “High-Deductible Plans Grow, but Not Everyone Should Get on Board

[8/31/10]  United Benefit Advisors:  2010 UBA Health Plan Survey

[8/27/10]  Department of the Treasury:  Financial Education Core Competencies; Notice and request for comment [as published in the Federal Register on August 26, 2010 -- Note: Comments should be received on or before September 12, 2010, to be considered]

[8/27/10]  U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration:

[8/27/10]  MetLife:  MetLife Benefits Benchmarking Tool

[8/27/10]  Aon Consulting:  “Unemployed See COBRA Costs Increase in 2010, While Current Workers Brace for More Health Care Cost Shifting in 2011, Says Aon Consulting” [News Release]

[8/27/10]  Thomson Reuters:  Consumer Healthcare Sentiment Index

[8/26/10]  Internal Revenue Service:  Employee Plans News [August 20, 2010]

[8/26/10]  U.S. Departments of the Treasury (IRS), Labor (EBSA), and Health and Human Services:  Availability of Interim Procedures for Federal External Review and Model Notices Relating to Internal Claims and Appeals and External Review under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act; Notice [as published in the Federal Register on August 26, 2010]

[8/26/10]  Hewitt Associates:  Agencies Release Interim Procedures for Federal External Review and Model Notices

[8/26/10]  The Commonwealth Fund:  Timeline for Health Care Reform Implementation: Health Insurance Provisions [August 10, 2010]

[8/26/10]  The Wall Street Journal:  “Debating Target-Date Funds’ Tricky Labels

[8/25/10]  U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission:  Comments on Proposed Rule Investment Company Advertising: Target Date Retirement Fund Names and Marketing

[8/25/10]  U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration:

[8/25/10]  Principal Financial Group:  The Principal 10 Best Companies for Employee Financial Security

[8/25/10]  Chubb Group of Insurance Companies:  Special Report: Who May Sue You and Why: How to Reduce Your ERISA Risks, and the Role of Fiduciary Liability Insurance

[8/24/10]  Internal Revenue Service:

[8/24/10]  Charles Schwab:  “More Employers Adding 401(k) Plan Features to Drive Participation and Savings, Says New Schwab Data” [Press Release]

[8/24/10]  San Francisco Chronicle:  “10 Things You Must Know Before You Retire

[8/24/10]  National Association of Government Defined Contribution Administrations: 2010 Issue Brochure: The Evolution of the Government Deferred Compensation Plan Market: The Road Toward Retirement Sufficiency

[8/24/10]  Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality:  Request for Measures of Health Plan Efforts to Address Health Plan Members’ Health Literacy Needs; Notice of request for measures [as published in the Federal Register on August 23, 2010]

[8/23/10]  Hewitt Associates:  Survey Highlights: Employer Reaction to Health Care Reform: Grandfathered Status Survey

[8/23/10]  Robert Wood Johnson Foundation:  The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Care Consumer Confidence Index -- A Survey of Americans’ Attitudes about Health Care: An Analysis of Findings from July 2009 to June 2010

[8/23/10]  Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation:  Pension Insurance Data Book 2009

[8/23/10]  The New York Times:  “For Social Security, A Birthday Makeover” [Op-Ed contributors]

[8/20/10]  Digital Journal:  “New Sunday Show Arrives in D.C. -- Ideas in Action with Jim Glassman Debuts in Washington, D.C. September 5, 2010

[8/20/10]  Associated Press (via The Los Angeles Times):  “Fidelity: Struggling Workers Increasingly Tapping 401(k) Accounts for Needed Cash

[8/20/10]  The Wall Street Journal:  “Social Security Cuts Weighed by Panel

[8/20/10]  Hewitt Associates:  “Hewitt Analysis Shows COBRA Enrollment Rates Remain High Despite Government Subsidy Program Expiration” [News Release]

[8/19/10]  National Business Group on Health:  Survey Report: Large Employers’ 2011 Health Plan Design Changes

[8/19/10]  Urban Institute:  What Are the Provisions in the New Law for Containing Costs and How Effective Will They Be?

[8/19/10]  Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured Issue Paper:  “State Medicaid Agencies Prepare for Health Care Reform While Continuing to Face Challenges from the Recession

[8/19/10]  AARP Bulletin:

[8/18/10]  The Wall Street Journal:  “Another Threat to Economy: Boomers Cutting Back

[8/18/10]  Principal Financial Group ThoughtCapital:  “The Impact of Mergers, Acquisitions, and Dispositions on Your Retirement Plan

[8/18/10]  Social Security Administration:  Social Security Programs Throughout the World: Europe, 2010

[8/18/10]  USA Today:

[8/17/10]  Social Security Administration:  Fast Facts & Figures About Social Security, 2010

[8/17/10]  The New York Times:  “Some States Are Lacking in Health Law Authority

[8/17/10]  The Wall Street Journal:  “What the Experts Are Doing With Their Own Roth IRAs

[8/16/10]  Sibson Consulting:  Rewards of Work Study: Insights into Employee Satisfaction, Engagement and Retention from Sibson’s Rewards of Work Study [Report of 2009 Results]

[8/16/10]  Investment Company Institute:  The U.S. Retirement Market, First Quarter 2010

[8/16/10]  Milliman 100 Pension Funding Index:  Milliman Analysis: Pension Funded Status Up After Three Consecutive Months of Declines: Funded Status Increased by $25 Billion during July

[8/16/10]  Chicago Tribune:  “Americans Saving, But Not Necessarily in 401(k) Plans

[8/13/10]  U.S. Departments of Labor (EBSA) and Treasury (IRS):  Hearing on Certain Issues Relating to Lifetime Income Options for Participants and Beneficiaries in Retirement Plans; Notice of hearing [as published in the Federal Register on August 10, 2010]

[8/13/10]  Summary of the Automatic IRA Act of 2010 Introduced by Rep. Richard Neal, August 10, 2010

[8/13/10]  AARP:  Social Security 75th Anniversary Survey Report: Public Opinion Trends

[8/13/10]  Associated Press (via The Washington Post):

[8/13/10]  USA Today:  “Health Insurance Limits Are Rising, if Regulators Approve

[8/12/10]  Hewitt Associates:  “For Most Large Employers, Flexibility to Change Health Care Programs Outweighs Benefits Gained Under Grandfather Provisions” [News Release]

[8/12/10]  USA Today:  “With Many Still in Dark, Groups Shed Light on Health Care Law

[8/12/10]  Society of Actuaries and Milliman, Inc.:  The Economic Measurement of Medical Errors

[8/12/10]  University of Minnesota Law School (via Social Science Research Network):  Will Employers Undermine Health Care Reform by Dumping Sick Employees? by Amy Monahan and Daniel Schwarcz [Full report can be downloaded at the SSRN website] 

[8/11/10]  U.S. News & World Report:  “7 Ways the Automatic IRA Would Impact Retirement Savers

[8/11/10]  The Pew Center on the States:  “States Test Whether Public Pension Benefits Given Can Be Taken Away

[8/11/10]  Marquette University Law School (via the Social Science Research Network):  401k Follies and the Need to Reinvigorate the U.S. Annuity Market, by Paul M. Secunda [Full report can be downloaded at the SSRN website]

[8/11/10]  National Academy of Social Insurance:

[8/10/10]  USA Today:  “Boomers Wanting to Work Past Retirement Age Find Limited Options

[8/10/10]  Investment Company Institute:  “Retirement Snapshot, First Quarter 2010

[8/10/10]  Center for State & Local Government Excellence:  How Local Governments Are Addressing Retiree Health Care Funding

[8/10/10]  Urban Institute:  How Will the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Affect Small, Medium, and Large Businesses?

[8/9/10]  Milliman, Inc.:  Monthly Benefit News and Developments [August 2010]

[8/9/10]  Summary of the Automatic IRA Act of 2010 (S. 3760), Introduced by Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), August 5, 2010

[8/9/10]  International Association of Business Communicators:  IABC Research Foundation and Buck Consultants Employee Engagement Survey

[8/9/10]  The Boston Consulting Group:  Leveling the Playing Field: Upgrading the Wealth Management Experience for Women

[8/6/10]  U.S. Departments of Labor (EBSA) and Treasury (IRS):

[8/6/10]  USA Today:

[8/6/10]  Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Office of the Actuary:  Projected Medicare Expenditures under an Illustrative Scenario with Alternative Payment Updates to Medicare Providers

[8/6/10]  The Los Angeles Times:  “Battle Lines Being Drawn in Washington over Bush-Era Tax Cuts Set to Expire This Year

[8/5/10]  The Washington Post:  “Health-care Law Strengthens Medicare, Report Finds

[8/5/10]  Social Security and Medicare Boards of Trustees:

[8/5/10]  The Wall Street Journal:  “Stressed States Are Forcing Workers to Retire Later

[8/5/10]  Workforce Management:  “Retirement Readiness: Cautious Optimism

[8/5/10]  Center for Retirement Research at Boston College:  Pension Participation and Uncovered Workers

[8/5/10]  Sibson Consulting Spotlight:  “Back to Basics: Reminder about Planning for Current Health Coverage

[8/5/10]  The New York Times:

[8/5/10]  U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:  Planning and Establishment of State-Level Exchanges; Request for Comments Regarding Exchange-Related Provisions in Title I of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act [as published in the Federal Register on August 3, 2010]

[8/5/10]  U.S. Department of Labor:  “U.S. Labor Department Withdraws Proposed Rule on Definition of a Welfare Benefit Plan” [Press Release]

[8/4/10]  Internal Revenue Service:  Employee Plans News [August 2, 2010]

[8/4/10]  The Wall Street Journal:  “Employers Slow to Resume 401(k) Matches

[8/4/10]  The Hartford:  “Research by The Hartford Finds Americans Are Working More, Spending Less, But Continue to Struggle Financially” [Press Release]

[8/4/10]  Workforce Management:

[8/4/10]  Urban Institute:  Work and Retirement Patterns for the G.I. Generation, Silent Generation, and Early Boomers: Thirty Years of Change

[8/4/10]  Standard Retirement Services, Inc.:  Using Behavioral Finance to Help Employees Achieve Their Retirement Saving Goals: The Case of Mainspring Managed, by Alessandro Previtero, UCLA Anderson School of Management

[8/4/10]  Georgia State University (via Social Science Research Network):  Agency Problems in Target-Date Funds, by Vallapuzha Sandhya [Full report can be downloaded at the SSRN site]

[8/4/10]  Social Security Bulletin:

[8/3/10]  U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:  Employment and Earnings -- July 2010

[8/3/10]  Internal Revenue Service:

[8/3/10]  The Vanguard Group:

[8/3/10]  Prudential’s Pension Analyst Compliance Bulletin:  “Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act Orders Study to Determine Whether Stable-Value Products Are Swaps

[8/3/10]  Brookings Institution and Urban Institute:  The Shrinking Tax Preference for Pension Savings: An Analysis of Income Tax Changes, 1985-2007

[8/3/10]  Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services:  Affordable Care Act Update: Implementing Medicare Costs Savings

[8/3/10]  The New York Times:  “Virginia Suit Against Health Care Law Moves Forward

[8/2/10]  The Washington Post:  “Administration Report Sees $8 Billion in Medicare Savings

[8/2/10]  U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:

[8/2/10]  Kaiser Health News:  “Gazing Into CBO’s Budget and Health Care Crystal Ball

[8/2/10]  Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:  “Grandfathering” Rules Strike a Balance for Consumers

[8/2/10]  National Institute for Health Care Reform Research Brief:  “Employer Wellness Initiatives Grow, But Effectiveness Varies Widely

[8/2/10]  National Association of Government Defined Contribution Administrators:

[8/2/10]  Securities and Exchange Commission:  Study Regarding Obligations of Brokers, Dealers, and Investment Advisers; Request for comment [as published in the Federal Register on July 30, 2010]

[8/2/10]  TIAA-CREF:  Remarks by Roger W. Ferguson, Jr. [on retirement security]: The 2010 Martin Feldstein Lecture - The National Bureau of Economic Research, July 28, 2010

[8/2/10]  The New York Times:  “Social Security Jitters? Better Prepare Now

[7/30/10]  U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:  Employee Benefits in the United States - March 2010

Updated 8/31/10