What's New - December 2005

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What's new at EBRI this month:


December 2005 EBRI Issue Brief - "Early Experience with High-Deductible and Consumer-Driven Health Plans: Findings from the EBRI/Commonwealth Fund Consumerism in Health Care Survey"

December 2005 EBRI Notes - "Finances of Employee Benefits: Health Costs Drive Changing Trends" and "Lump-Sum Distributions"


October 6, 2005 - Updated Ballpark E$timate Available, Americans trying to estimate how much they need to save for a comfortable retirement now have an updated and easy-to-use tool -- the Ballpark E$timate.

EBRI Fact Sheet on PBGC - A four-page fact sheet with background information, key data and charts, and information links about the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), the federal agency that insures the traditional pensions of about 44 million Americans.

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:

  • 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:

Federal Employees Health Benefits Program: Early Experience with a Consumer-Directed Health Plan. GAO-06-143, November 21.  Highlights.

Private Pensions: Information on Cash Balance Pension Plans. GAO-06-42, November 3.  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.

[12/23/05] Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report:  "Senate Passes Bill to Extend 1996 Mental Health Parity Law"

[12/23/05] U.S. Department of the Treasury Internal Revenue Service:  Employer Comparable Contributions to Health Savings Accounts Under Section 4980G; Hearing [Notice of public hearing on proposed rulemaking, published in the Federal Register on 12/22/05]

[12/23/05] Buck Consultants For Your Information:  "Congress Approves Hurricane Relief and Budget Bills"

[12/23/05] Internal Revenue Service:  Employee Plans News [Volume 5/Winter 2006]

[12/23/05] Profit Sharing/401(k) Council of America:  Description of Private Sector Defined Contribution and IRA Provisions in HR 2830, The Pension Protection Act of 2005, As Passed the House of Representatives on December 15, 2005

[12/23/05] National Center for Policy Analysis Brief Analysis:  "The Defined Benefit Pension Crisis"

[12/23/05] The Inside Edition:  "Fiduciary Reporting in Five Easy Pieces"

[12/23/05] Towers Perrin:  United Kingdom: New Funding Guidelines Set for Pension Plans

[12/22/05] Business Insurance:  "Senate Approves PBGC Premium Hike"

[12/22/05] Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation:  An Analysis of Frozen Defined Benefit Plans

[12/21/05] TheKansasCityChannel.com:  "America’s Other Pension Problem: Shortfalls in Funding Post-Retirement Health Plans Could Hit Corporate America -- And Investors -- Hard When New Accounting Rules Go Into Effect"

[12/21/05] The Urban Institute Health Policy Brief:  "Lowering Financial Burdens and Increasing Health Insurance Coverage for Those with High Medical Costs"

[12/21/05] A.G. Edwards & Sons, Inc.:  A.G. Edwards Nest Egg Index Overview

[12/21/05] Center for Retirement Research at Boston College:  "The House and Living Standards in Retirement"

[12/19/05] Business Insurance:  "Ford Expands Health Care Cost-Shifting Effort"

[12/19/05] Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation:  PBGC Announces Maximum Insurance Benefit for 2006

[12/19/05] BenefitNews Connect:  "DB Sponsors Use Lower Discount Rates"

[12/19/05] Business Insurance:  "Mercer Survey Examines Expatriate Benefits"

[12/19/05] Pension Research Council:  Financial Literacy and Planning: Implications for Retirement Wellbeing [Working Paper]

[12/19/05] Center for Retirement Research at Boston College:  Making Maximum Use of Tax-Deferred Retirement Accounts [Working Paper]

[12/16/05] U.S. House Education & the Workforce Committee:  "With Strong Bipartisan Vote, House Backs Comprehensive Pension Reform Measure"

[12/16/05] U.S. House Education & the Workforce Committee:  Pension Protection Act (H.R.2830): Strengthening Outdated Worker Pension Rules [Bill Summary]

[12/16/05] Executive Office of the President:  Statement of Administration Policy -- H.R.2830 - Pension Protection Act of 2005

[12/16/05] Office of U.S. Representative Eric Cantor:  "Cantor Introduces Bill to Expand the Use of Health Savings Accounts"

[12/16/05] Milliman Client Action Bulletin:  "Medicare Subsidy Disregarded in Determining Employer Deduction"

[12/15/05] Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:  "House Pension Bill Would Make Some 2001 Tax Cuts Permanent for the First Time"

[12/15/05] Hewitt Associates:  "Family and Medical Leave Act Soon to Be In the Regulatory Spotlight"

[12/15/05] Milliman, Inc.:  Benefits Perspectives: Current Issues in Employee Benefits [Fall 2005]

[12/15/05] The Council for Affordable Health Insurance:  Trends in State Mandated Benefits

[12/15/05] BenefitNews Connect:  "Fortune 500 Companies Reap Wellness ROI"

[12/14/05] U.S. House Education & the Workforce Committee:  "Boehner, Thomas Announce Agreement with United Auto Workers on Key Pension Reforms"

[12/14/05] Society of Actuaries:  Estimated Impact of Medicare Part D on Retiree Prescription Drug Costs

[12/14/05] Health Affairs [Web Exclusive]:  "Consumer-Directed Health Insurance: The Next Generation" [Interview]

[12/14/05] Baltimore Sun (via South Florida Sun-Sentinel):  "Solving the Mystery of a Missing Pension Can Be Difficult"

[12/13/05] Workforce Management:  "Nine Critical Trends in Benefits"

[12/13/05] Buck Consultants NewsFlash:  "2005 Nonqualified Deferred Compensation Reporting and Withholding Suspended"

[12/13/05] Watson Wyatt Insider:  "Marking to Market: A Preliminary Look at the Impact of Proposed Changes to FASB Accounting Standards on Postretirement Benefit Plans"

[12/13/05] Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation:  Understanding the Financial Condition of the Pension Insurance Program [Q&A]

[12/13/05] HR Policy Association:  "Senators Urge Treasury to Simplify Proposed Phased Retirement Rules"

[12/13/05] U.S. Department of Labor Compliance Assistance:  Help Navigating DOL Laws and Regulations

[12/9/05] Prudential Retirement Pension Analyst:  "2005 Plan Year: End-Year Compliance Reminders for Defined Contribution Plans Subject to ERISA"

[12/9/05] Prudential Retirement Pension Analyst:  "2005 End-Year Compliance Reminders for Defined Contribution Plans Not Subject to ERISA"

[12/9/05] Prudential Retirement Pension Analyst:  "IRS Publishes Final Rules for Required Payments From Defined Benefit Plans"

[12/9/05] Monthly Labor Review:  "Labor Force Projections to 2014: Retiring Boomers"

[12/8/05] Milliman, Inc.:  Monthly Benefit News and Developments

[12/8/05] Kaiser Family Foundation:  Prospects for Retiree Health Benefits as Medicare Drug Coverage Begins: Findings from the Kaiser/Hewitt 2005 Survey on Retiree Health Benefits

[12/8/05] Health Affairs [Web Exclusive]:  "A Widening Rift In Access And Quality: Growing Evidence Of Economic Disparities"

[12/8/05] Council for Affordable Health Insurance:  HSA State Implementation Report

[12/8/05] Watson Wyatt Worldwide and National Business Group on Health:  Staying@Work™ 2005/2006 [Executive Summary]

[12/8/05] The Vanguard Group:  New Study Examines Behavior of Defined Contribution Plan Participants.  Full Report: How America Saves 2005

[12/6/05] The Segal Company Bulletin:  "New Guidance for Employers that Offer HSAs and Insured Plans with State-Mandated Benefits and/or Health FSAs"

[12/6/05] Watson Wyatt Insider:  "Tax Reform Panel Final Report Recommends Significant Changes for Employer-Sponsored Programs"

[12/6/05] Aon Consulting Alert:  "Retirement Plans in 2005: A Year in the Spotlight"

[12/6/05] Watson Wyatt Insider:  "A Balanced Look at the Case for Defined Benefit Pensions"

[12/2/05] The Commonwealth Fund:  On the Fringe: The Substandard Benefits of Workers in Part-Time, Temporary, and Contract Jobs

[12/2/05] Watson Wyatt Insider:  "Pension Reform: New Mandates for Hybrid Plans"

[12/2/05] American Benefits Council:  Leading Proposals Affecting Defined Contribution and Other Retirement Arrangements (Other Than Pension Funding and Hybrid Plan Proposals)

[12/2/05] Workforce Management:  "More Companies Going Automatic for All Workers"

[12/2/05] Business & Compensation Solutions:  "Quest for the Best--Changing 401(k) Providers"

[12/2/05] Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation:  Valuation of Benefits; Mortality Assumptions: Final Rule

[12/1/05] American Academy of Actuaries:  Analysis of Congressional Pension Funding Reform Proposals

[12/1/05] American Academy of Actuaries:  Analysis of Congressional Pension Funding Reform Proposals: Multiemployer Plan Provisions

[12/1/05] Aon Consulting Forum:  "DB/DC Bundling Can Simplify Administration Burdens and More"

[12/1/05] Center for Retirement Research at Boston College:  "Could Tax Reform Kill 401(k) Plans?"

[12/1/05] Business Insurance:  "U.K. National Pension Savings Plan Recommended"

[12/1/05] The Pensions Commission [U.K.]:  HomepageA New Pension Settlement for the Twenty-First Century: The Second Report of the Pensions Commission

Updated 12/23/05