What's New - December 2011

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What's new at EBRI this month:

EBRI 2011 Spring Policy Forum: “Is There a Future for Retirement?” ["gavel to gavel" webcast - Prerecorded broadcast available through the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans]

Visit EBRI's Blog!

EBRI's Recent Media Coverage

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

401(k) Balances and Changes Due to Market Volatility


December 2011 EBRI Issue Brief - "401(k) Plan Asset Allocation, Account Balances, and Loan Activity in 2010"

December 2011 EBRI Issue Brief - "Findings From the 2011 EBRI/MGA Consumer Engagement in Health Care Survey"

December 2011 EBRI Notes - "Retirement Age Expectations of Older Americans Between 2006 and 2010" and "Variation in Public Opinion on the Future of Employment-Based Health Benefits: Findings from the 2011 Health Confidence Survey"


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 Care Coverage: Job Lock and the Potential Impact of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. GAO-12-166R, December 15.

Delphi Pension Plans: GM Agreements with Unions Give Rise to Unique Differences in Participant Benefits. GAO-12-168, December 15. Highlights.

Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan: Comparison of Implementation and Early Enrollment with the Children's Health Insurance Program. GAO-12-62R, November 10.

Federal Employees' Group Life Insurance: Retirement Benefit and Retained Asset Account Disclosures Could Be Improved. GAO-12-94, November 10. Highlights.

Mental Health and Substance Use: Employers' Insurance Coverage Maintained or Enhanced Since Parity Act, but Effect of Coverage on Enrollees Varied. GAO-12-63, November 30. Highlights.

Medicare Advantage: Enrollment Increased from 2010 to 2011 while Premiums Decreased and Benefit Packages Were Stable. GAO-12-93, October 31. Highlights.

Private Health Insurance: Early Indicators Show that Most Insurers Would Have Met or Exceeded New Medical Loss Ratio Standards. GAO-12-90R, October 31.

The Federal Government's Long-Term Fiscal Outlook: Fall 2011 Update. GAO-12-28SP, October 24. Podcast available.

Income Security: Older Adults and the 2007-2009 Recession. GAO-12-76, October 18.

Delphi Corporation: Key Events Leading to Termination of the Delphi Defined Benefit Plans, by Barbara D. Bovbjerg, before the House Oversight And Government Reform Committee. GAO-12-234T, November 14. Highlights.

Income Security: The Effect of the 2007-2009 Recession on Older Adults, by Barbara D. Bovbjerg, managing director, education, workforce, and income security issues before the Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging, Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. GAO-12-172T, October 18.

Medicare Part D: Instances of Questionable Access to Prescription Drugs by Gregory D. Kutz, FAIS, before Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee: Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services And International Security Subcommittee. GAO-12-104T, October 4.


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.

[12/23/11]  Towers Watson:  2012 Benefit Basics

[12/23/11]  National Business Group on Health and Towers Watson:  Pathway to Health and Productivity: 2011/2012 Staying@Work™ Survey Report

[12/23/11]  The Washington Post:  “Medicare spending growth rising slower but enrollment will rise

[12/23/11]  JHPPL News and Notes:  “Findings from the 2011 EBRI/MGA Consumer Engagement in Health Care Survey by Paul Fronstin :: SSRN

[12/23/11]  Internal Revenue Service:  Deadline to Submit Opinion and Advisory Letter Applications for Pre-approved Defined Contribution Plans is Extended to April 2, 2012 [Announcement 2012-3]

[12/23/11]  Milliman Inc.:  2012 Key Administrative Dates and Deadlines for Calendar-Year Single-Employer Defined Benefit Plans [Subject to ERISA and the Internal Revenue Code]

[12/23/11]  Investment Company Institute:  The U.S. Retirement Market -- Third Quarter 2011

[12/23/11]  AdvisorOne:  “Expected Retirement Age Increases, but Percentage of ‘Never Retirees’ Falling: EBRI

[12/23/11]  Sibson Consulting Spotlight:  “A Potential Problem on the Horizon: Closed Pension Plans Must Still Comply with Nondiscrimination Rules

[12/23/11]  The New York Times:  “More Advice for Pre-Retirees Coming to 401(k)s

[12/22/11]  Principal Financial Group:  ERISA 404(a) Participant Disclosure Regulation Resource Center

[12/22/11]  Financial Advisor Magazine:  “401(k) Portfolios Regain Their Balance

[12/22/11]  Bloomberg:  “Younger Investors Not Shy About Stocks in 401(k)s

[12/22/11]  Internal Revenue Service:  Employee Plans News [Dec. 20, 2011]

[12/22/11]  Chicago Tribune:  “The future of Medicare up for debate

[12/22/11]  Kaiser Family Foundation:  Kaiser Health Tracking Poll -- December 2011

[12/21/11]  Plan Sponsor:  “Advance Copies of 2011 Form 5500 Released

[12/21/11]  Financial Industry Regulatory Authority:  “Weathering Tough Economic Times--12 Tips for 2012

[12/21/11]  Kaiser Family Foundation:

[12/21/11]  U.S. House Committee on Small Business Subcommittee on Investigations, Oversight and Regulations:  Hearing on “New Medical Loss Ratios: Increasing Health Care Value or Just Eliminating Jobs?” [Hearing held Dec. 15, 2011, includes links to written testimonies]

[12/21/11]  The Boston Globe:  “’Health Care Reform’ by Jonathan Gruber” [Book Review]

[12/21/11]  MetLife:  2011 MetLife Study of the American Dream: The Do-It-Yourself Dream

[12/20/11]  The Los Angeles Times:  “Supreme Court to hear arguments in March on healthcare law

[12/20/11]  U.S. Department of Health & Human Services:  “HHS to give states more flexibility to implement health reform” [News Release]

[12/20/11]  HR Policy Association:  “HHS Clarifies That Self-Insured Plans Are Excluded From ‘Essential Health Benefits’ Requirement

[12/20/11]  Internal Revenue Service:  Employee Plans News [Dec. 16, 2011]

[12/20/11]  Plan Sponsor:

[12/20/11]  Investment Company Institute and SPARK Institute:  “Sample Glossary of Investment-Related Terms for Disclosures to Retirement Plan Participants

[12/19/11]  Plan Sponsor:  “Companies Lacking in Benefits Communications

[12/19/11]  Towers Watson:  Joining Forces: Forging an HR/Finance Partnership to Shape Rewards for the Future

[12/19/11]  The New York Times:  “Health Care Law Will Let States Tailor Benefits

[12/19/11]  Kaiser Family Foundation:  Changes in Health Insurance Coverage in the Great Recession, 2007-2010

[12/19/11]  The Los Angeles Times:  “Millions of young adults getting coverage under new healthcare law

[12/19/11]  Verisight and McGladrey:  2011/2012 Compensation, Retirement and Benefits Trends Report

[12/16/11]  Kaiser Health News:  “Early Exit for Early Retiree Insurance Program

[12/16/11]  The Washington Post:  “Medicare’s ‘SGR’ formula has snowballed to budget-busting juggernaut

[12/16/11]  Plan Sponsor:

[12/16/11]  Deloitte and International Society of Certified Employee Benefit Specialists:  Annual 401(k) Benchmarking Survey [2011 edition] -- Plan sponsors and providers work at closing the retirement readiness gap while getting ready for new fee disclosure regulations

[12/15/11]  U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:  ASPE Issue Brief: “2.5 Million Young Adults Gain Health Insurance Due to the Affordable Care Act”

[12/15/11]  The Fiscal Times:  “Consumer Alert: High Health Deductibles Coming

[12/15/11]  The Vanguard Group:  Participants during the financial crisis: Total returns 2005-2010

[12/15/11]  Internal Revenue Service:  2011 Cumulative List of Changes in Plan Qualification Requirements [Notice 2011-97]

[12/15/11]  Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation:  Allocation of Assets in Single-Employer Plans; Benefits Payable in Terminated Single-Employer Plans; Interest Assumptions for Valuing and Paying Benefits; Final rule [as published in the Federal Register on Dec. 15, 2011]

[12/15/11]  Plan Sponsor:  “CalPERS Rebuffs Institute’s Pension Findings

[12/14/11]  Internal Revenue Service:  2012 Standard Mileage Rates [Notice 2012-1]

[12/14/11]  Plan Sponsor:  “Enrollment in Consumer-Driven Health Plans Grew in 2011

[12/14/11]  Towers Watson:  Health Care Changes Ahead: Survey Report

[12/14/11]  U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:  Early Retiree Reinsurance Program; Notice [as published in the Federal Register on Dec. 13, 2011]

[12/14/11]  Center for Retirement Research at Boston College:  Do Low-Income Workers Benefit from 401(k) Plans?

[12/14/11]  Plan Sponsor Council of America:  403(b) Plan Response to Current Conditions

[12/14/11]  Prudential:  Retirement Plan Strategies: De-risking pensions -- emerging opportunity through lump-sum cash-outs under the Pension Protection Act of 2006 [White Paper]

[12/14/11]  Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research:  Pension Math: How California’s Retirement Spending Is Squeezing the State Budget

[12/12/11]  U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration:  Revised Interim Policy on Electronic Disclosure Under 29 CFR 2550.404a-5 [Technical Release 2011-03R]

[12/12/11]  Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation:  Technical Update 11-1: Reportable Events; Funding-Related Determinations; Missed Quarterly Contributions; Guidance for 2012 Plan Years

[12/12/11]  Joint Economic Committee/Republican Staff Commentary:  States of Bankruptcy Part I: The Coming State Pensions Crisis

[12/12/11]  ConsumerAffairs.com:  “Older Workers Giving Up on Retirement -- Many now say they will never be able to retire

[12/12/11]  National Academy for State Health Policy and The Commonwealth Fund:  Building Medical Homes: Lessons from Eight States with Emerging Programs

[12/12/11]  Employee Benefit News Legal Alert:  “Pros and cons of severance agreements

[12/9/11]  LifeHealthPro:  “EBRI: Americans Expect Health Benefits to Be Available, Costly

[12/9/11]  United Health Foundation:  America’s Health Rankings: 2011 Edition

[12/9/11]  The Los Angeles Times:  “U.S. household wealth takes biggest hit since 2008

[12/9/11]  USA Today:

[12/9/11]  Financial Advisor Magazine:  “Some Older Workers Say They May Never Retire, Survey Says

[12/9/11]  HayGroup:  What Are the Latest Trends in Executive Benefits? - Executive Benefits Survey Results

[12/8/11]  U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:  Employer Costs for Employee Compensation -- September 2011

[12/8/11]  Investment Company Institute Research Perspective:  “A Look at Private-Sector Retirement Plan Income After ERISA, 2010” 

[12/8/11]  Plan Sponsor:  “Report Examines Growth of Investment Options in DC Plans

[12/8/11]  Milliman Multiemployer Review:  “Year-End Compliance Issues for Multiemployer Retirement Plan Sponsors

[12/8/11]  U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration:  Fact Sheet: Multiple Employer Welfare Arrangements Affordable Care Act Proposed Regulations

[12/8/11]  Galen Institute:

[12/7/11]  Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services:  Medical Loss Ratio: Getting Your Money’s Worth on Health Insurance: Final Rule Fact Sheet

[12/7/11]  U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration:  Guidance on Rebates for Group Health Plans Paid Pursuant to the Medical Loss Ratio Requirements of the Public Health Service Act [Technical Release No. 2011-04]

[12/7/11]  Employee Benefit News Legal Alert:  “Agencies extend benefits summary deadline & provide guidance on mental health coverage

[12/7/11]  Plan Sponsor:  “Majority of Employees Confident Employers Will Continue Healthcare Coverage

[12/7/11]  UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education:  Meeting California’s Retirement Security Challenge

[12/7/11]  U.S. Census Bureau:  Maternity Leave and Employment Patterns of First-Time Mothers: 1961-2008

[12/2/11]  Atlantic Information Services:  “Health Insurers, Employers Are Beginning to Embrace Defined-Contribution Model” [Reprinted from Health Plan Week]

[12/2/11]  Pallet Enterprise:  “Reform and Rising Health Care Costs: What Is the Impact of Proposed Changes on Your Business?

[12/2/11]  Center for Retirement Research at Boston College:  How Would GASB Proposals Affect State and Local Pension Reporting?

[12/2/11]  Laura and John Arnold Foundation:  Creating a New Public Pension System [LJAF Solution Paper]

[12/2/11]  PIMCO DC Dialogue™:  “No cookie cutter” [“In this PIMCO DC Dialogue, we talk with Lee Baker of Apex Financial Services about financial planning and the focus on retirement income.”]

[12/2/11]  Franklin Templeton Investments:  “Franklin Templeton Survey Reveals Differing Retirement Concerns, Priorities and Strategies for Americans Across Generations” [Press Release]

[12/2/11]  AdvisorOne:  “Why Women’s Retirement Participation Rate Only Looks Lower Than Men’s

[12/2/11]  TD Economics Special Report:  “Financial Literacy -- The Investment of a Lifetime

[12/1/11]  Kaiser Family Foundation:  “Pulling It Together…The Most Popular Provision in the ACA?” from Drew Altman

[12/1/11]  The Commonwealth Fund Data Brief:  “Health Care Opinion Leaders’ Views on Health Spending and Reform Implementation

[12/1/11]  Prudential’s Pension Analyst:

[12/1/11]  Internal Revenue Service:  Sample Plan Amendment for Section 436 [Notice 2011-96]: “This notice provides a sample plan amendment that plan sponsors may adopt to satisfy § 436 of the Internal Revenue Code regarding limitations on the accrual and payment of benefits under certain underfunded single employer defined benefit plans. This notice also extends both the deadline to amend a plan to satisfy § 436 and the period during which such an amendment is eligible for relief from the anti-cutback requirements of § 411(d)(6).”

[12/1/11]  Plan Sponsor:  “PBGC: American Airlines Bankruptcy Could Hurt Financial Position

[12/1/11]  USA Today:  “Most companies restore 401(k) contributions

Updated 12/23/11