What's New - December 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


December 2009 EBRI Issue Brief - "Findings from the 2009 EBRI/MGA Consumer Engagement in Health Care Survey"

December 2009 EBRI Notes - "Investment Behavior of Target-Date Fund Users Having Other Funds in 401(k) Plan Accounts" and "What Do We Know About Enrollment in Consumer-Driven Health Plans?"


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:

State and Local Government Retiree Health Benefits: Liabilities Are Largely Unfunded, but Some Governments Are Taking Action. GAO-10-61, November 30. Highlights.

Private Pensions: Additional Changes Could Improve Employee Benefit Plan Financial Reporting. GAO-10-54, November 5. Highlights.

Private Pensions: Sponsors of 10 Underfunded Plans Paid Executives Approximately $350 Million in Compensation Shortly Before Termination. GAO-10-77, October 21. Highlights.

Retirement Savings: Automatic Enrollment Shows Promise for Some Workers, but Proposals to Broaden Retirement Savings for Other Workers Could Face Challenges. GAO-10-31, October 23. Highlights.

The Federal Government's Long-Term Fiscal Outlook: Fall 2009 Update. GAO-10-137SP, October 15.

401(k) Plans: Several Factors Can Diminish Retirement Savings, but Automatic Enrollment Shows Promise for Increasing Participation and Savings, by Barbara D. Bovbjerg, director, education, workforce, and income security, before the Senate Special Committee on Aging. GAO-10-153T, October 28. 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.

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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.

[12/23/09]  U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration:

[12/23/09]  Congressional Research Service:  The Federal Budget: Current and Upcoming Issues

[12/23/09]  Watson Wyatt Insider:  “Defined Benefit vs. 401(k) Investment Returns: The 2006-2008 Update

[12/23/09]  Prudential Pension Analyst Compliance Bulletin:  “DOL Approves Use of Summary Prospectus to Satisfy ERISA 404(c)

[12/23/09]  The Los Angeles Times:  “Senate Moves Closer to Healthcare Passage

[12/23/09]  Kaiser Family Foundation:  Side-by-Side Comparison of Major Health Care Reform Proposals [interactive comparison tool, updated on Dec. 23 to reflect the Senate bill as amended and as expected to face a final vote on Thursday, Dec. 24]

[12/23/09]  Full text of H.R. 3326, “Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2010” [For Unemployment Compensation Extension--See Section 1009; For COBRA Extension--See Section 1010]

[12/23/09]  Workforce Management:  “For Employers, the Pros and Cons of Health Care Reform Emerge

[12/23/09]  CIGNA:  CIGNA Choice Fund® Experience Study: Summary of Key Findings

[12/23/09]  International Society of Certified Employee Benefit Specialists and Towers Perrin:  Retiree Medical Challenges and Opportunities

[12/22/09]  USA Today:  “COBRA Health Coverage, Subsidies Are Expanded

[12/22/09]  U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration:  “Statement of Phyllis C. Borzi on COBRA Subsidy Extension” [News Statement]

[12/22/09]  The New York Times:  “Democrats Face Challenge in Merging Health Bills

[12/22/09]  Profit Sharing/401k Council of America:  401(k) and Profit Sharing Plan Eligibility Survey 2009

[12/22/09]  Sun Life Financial:  “Sun Life Financial’s Unretirement Index Finds Friends and Family Trump Financial Advisors, Media and Internet” [Press Release]

[12/22/09]  TIAA-CREF Institute Trends and Issues:  “Meeting Health Care Expenses in Retirement: How Ready Are Near-Retirees?

[12/22/09]  International Social Security Association:  What Are the Prospects for the Standard of Living of Retirees? -- The Indexation of Pensions in European Union and OECD Countries

[12/21/09]  Internal Revenue Service:  Employee Plans News [Winter 2010]

[12/21/09]  The New York Times:  “Health Bill Passes Key Test in the Senate With 60 Votes

[12/21/09]  Congressional Research Service:  A Comparative Analysis of Private Health Insurance Provisions of H.R. 3962 and S.Amdt. 2786 to H.R. 3590

[12/21/09]  Kaiser Family Foundation:  Kaiser Health Tracking Poll--December 2009 [measuring public opinion about health care reform]

[12/21/09]  Milliman’s Benefits Perspectives:  The Fall 2009 issue includes the following articles:

  • “Is Your Wellness Program Cost Effective?”
  • “Demystifying the 130/30 Portfolio”
  • “Making Retiree Healthcare Coverage More Economical”

[12/18/09]  Milliman’s Client Action Bulletin:  “Year-End Compliance Issues for Retirement Plan Sponsors” 

[12/18/09]  Watson Wyatt Insider:

[12/18/09]  Society for Human Resource Management:  2009 SHRM Executive Roundtable on the Future of Retirement [Executive Summary]

[12/18/09]  National Institute on Retirement Security:  2010 Retirement Resolutions: The Three R’s

[12/18/09]  U.S. House Committee on Appropriations:  Summary: Jobs for Main Street Act of 2010 [includes COBRA extension]

[12/18/09]  Executive Office of the President, Council of Economic Advisers:  The Economic Case for Health Care Reform: Update [December 14, 2009]

[12/17/09]  Internal Revenue Service:  Qualified Transportation Fringes [Notice 2009-95]

[12/17/09]  U. S. Senate Special Committee on Aging:  “Kohl Announces Intent to Strengthen Fiduciary Oversight of Target Date Funds

[12/17/09]  Center for Retirement Research at Boston College:  Will Automatic Enrollment Reduce Employer Contributions to 401(k) Plans? [Working Paper]

[12/17/09]  Investment Advisor:  “Auto IRA Legislation Likely to Pass in 2010: Retirement Plan Advisor, December 2009

[12/17/09]  FINRA Investor Education Foundation:  2009 National Financial Capability Study

[12/17/09]  Robert Wood Johnson Foundation:  What Would Health Care Reform Mean for Small Employers and Their Workers?

[12/16/09]  The Los Angeles Times:  “Senate Healthcare Bill Advances with Rejection of Imported Drugs

[12/16/09]  American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees:  Enhancing Public Retiree Pension Plan Security: Best Practices for Trustees and Pension Systems

[12/16/09]  MetLife:  The Emerging Retirement Model Study: A Survey of Plan Sponsors

[12/16/09]  Center for Retirement Research at Boston College:  The Wealth of Older Americans and the Sub-Prime Debacle [Working Paper]

[12/15/09]  Internal Revenue Service:  Employer’s Tax Guide to Fringe Benefits [For use in 2010] -- [Publication 15-B]

[12/15/09]  The Los Angeles Times:  “Senate Democrats Move to Drop Medicare Proposal

[12/15/09]  Milliman 100 Pension Funding Index:  Milliman Analysis: Pension Funding Improves after Sixth Straight Months of Decline [Funded status increased by $2 billion in November]

[12/15/09]  Watson Wyatt Insider:  “FAS 123(R) Option Assumptions: The 2008 Results

[12/14/09]  Internal Revenue Service:

[12/14/09]  Hewitt Associates:  2009 Global Pension Risk Survey -- U.S. Results

[12/14/09]  The Washington Post:  “Disputes Threaten ’09 Passage of Health Bill – Medicare Buy-In at Issue -- Undecided Senators Waiting for CBO Analysis

[12/14/09]  Robert Wood Johnson Foundation:  Premium and Cost-Sharing Subsidies under Health Reform: Implications for Coverage, Costs, and Affordability

[12/14/09]  Kaiser Family Foundation:  “Pulling It Together: A Holiday Reminder on the Economy and Health Care” from Drew Altman

[12/9/09]  Profit Sharing/401k Council of America:  Impact of Economic Conditions on 401(k) and Profit Sharing Plans

[12/9/09]  BrightScope™:  BrightScope 2009 Top 30 401k Plans List

[12/9/09]  The SPARK Institute:  403(b) Plans Best Practices Survey Results

[12/9/09]  Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies:  Women and Retirement: Facing Challenges in a Recession

[12/9/09]  U.S. Department of Labor:  Statement of Regulatory and Deregulatory Priorities

[12/9/09]  Internal Revenue Service:  Medical and Dental Expenses (Including the Health Coverage Tax Credit) – For use in preparing 2009 Returns [Publication 502]

[12/9/09]  Kaiser Family Foundation:  A Foundation for Health Reform: Findings of a 50 State Survey of Eligibility Rules, Enrollment and Renewal Procedures, and Cost-Sharing Practices in Medicaid and CHIP for Children and Parents During 2009

[12/9/09]  The Washington Post:  “Senate May Drop Public Option

[12/8/09]  The Los Angeles Times:  “Senate Democrats May Compromise on Public Option

[12/8/09]  Equal Employment Opportunity Commission:  Amendment of Procedural and Administrative Regulations To Include the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA); Final rule [as published in the Federal Register on Dec. 7, 2009]:

[12/8/09]  Kaiser Family Foundation:  Issue Brief: What’s in the Stars? Quality Ratings of Medicare Advantage Plans, 2010

[12/8/09]  S. 2832:  “To amend the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 to require a lifetime income disclosure” [short title: “Lifetime Income Disclosure Act”]

[12/8/09]  Social Security Bulletin [Vol. 69, No. 4]:

[12/7/09]  Buck Consultants FYI:  “IRS Guidance Requires Group Health Plan Excise Tax Reporting in 2010

[12/7/09]  Center for State & Local Government Excellence Issue Brief:  “The Crisis in State and Local Government Retiree Health Benefit Plans: Myths and Realities” [Update 2009]

[12/7/09]  Internal Revenue Service:  Section 401. -- Qualified Pension, Profit-Sharing, and Stock Bonus Plans; 26 CFR 1.401(l)-1: Permitted disparity in employer-provided contributions or benefits [Rev. Rul. 2009-40]

[12/7/09]  Social Security Bulletin [Vol. 69, No. 4]:

[12/4/09]  Buck Consultants’ LegiSlateBuck Consultants Summary of Pension and Retirement Legislation in the 111th Congress

[12/4/09]  The Hartford:  The Hartford Investments and Retirement Survey

[12/4/09]  Watson Wyatt Worldwide:  “Despite Economic Pressures, Employers Enhancing Programs That Boost Worker Health and Productivity, Watson Wyatt/National Business Group on Health Survey Finds” [Press Release]

[12/4/09]  Kaiser Family Foundation:  Summaries of Coverage Provisions in House and Senate Reform Legislation

[12/4/09]  Mercer:  “Majority of Employers Would Reduce Health Benefits to Avoid Proposed Excise Tax, Survey Finds” [Press Release]

[12/4/09]  Mathematica Policy Research:  Disability Policy Research Brief: Will Health Care Reform Increase the Employment of People with Disabilities?

[12/3/09]  U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration:  Questions Regarding Current Eligibility for the COBRA Premium Reduction

[12/3/09]  Watson Wyatt Worldwide:  “Employers Plan to Increase Use of Self-Service Decision-Making Technology for Open Enrollment, Watson Wyatt Survey Finds” [Press Release]

[12/3/09]  Health Affairs:  “Group Insurance: A Better Deal for Most People Than Individual Plans

[12/3/09]  Profit Sharing/401k Council of America:  Impact of Economic Conditions on 403(b) Plans

[12/3/09]  H.R. 4146:  “To amend title I of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 to provide for disclosure regarding compensation for services to pension plans.” [short title: “Sensible Transparency for Retirement Plans Act of 2009”]

[12/3/09]  Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation:  National Household Survey: Results from the 2009 FDIC Survey of Unbanked and Underbanked Households

[12/2/09]  Milliman 100 Pension Funding Index:  Milliman Analysis: Pensions Decline for the Sixth Straight Month [Funded status decreased by $4 billion in October]

[12/2/09]  Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation:  The following were published in the Federal Register on December 1, 2009:

[12/2/09]  Internal Revenue Service:  IRS Employee Plans Videos: Tips to Help You with Your Retirement Plan

[12/2/09]  The Los Angeles Times:  “COBRA Subsidies Begin Expiring for the Unemployed

[12/2/09]  The Washington Post:  “Senate Health Bill Gets a Boost -- Measure Wouldn’t Increase Insurance Costs for Most, CBO Says

[12/1/09]  Congressional Budget Office:  An Analysis of Health Insurance Premiums Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

[12/1/09]  Business Insurance:  “COBRA Uncertainty Complicates Administration -- Subsidy Extension Likely, but Firms Face Choices

[12/1/09]  Watson Wyatt Worldwide:  2009/2010 North American Staying@Work Report: The Health and Productivity Advantage [Executive Summary]

[12/1/09]  Plan Sponsor:  “Insights from Our Annual Defined Contribution Survey

[12/1/09]  U.S. Department of Labor:  Employment Law Guide: Laws, Regulations, and Technical Assistance Services [Updated September 2009]

[12/1/09]  MetLife Mature Market Institute:  The 2009 MetLife Market Survey of Nursing Home, Assisted Living, Adult Day Services, and Home Care Costs

Updated 12/23/09