What's New - February 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


February 2009 EBRI Issue Brief - "The Impact of the Recent Financial Crisis on 401(k) Account Balances"

February 2009 EBRI Notes - "Retirement Plan Participation: Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) Data, 2006"


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:

High-Risk Series: An Update. GAO-09-271, January 2009. Highlights.

Health Information Technology: Federal Agencies' Experiences Demonstrate Challenges to Successful Implementation, by Valerie C. Melvin, director, human capital and management information systems issues, before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. GAO-09-312T, January 15. Highlights.


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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 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.

[2/27/09]  U.S. House Committee on Small Business:  Hearing held February 25, 2009, “Drop in Retirement Savings: The Challenges Small Businesses Face Funding and Maintaining Retirement Plans in a Struggling Economy”

[2/27/09]  Compensation and Working Conditions:  “The Structure of State and Local Government Retirement Benefits, 2008

[2/27/09]  Kaiser Family Foundation:  “Report and Video Highlight Health Coverage Struggles, Other Economic Concerns of Working Families

[2/27/09]  Wellness Council of America Special Report:  The Top 5 Strategies to Enhance the ROI of Worksite Wellness Programs [in Economically Challenging Times]

[2/26/09]  Hewitt Associates:  “Hewitt Research Highlights Severity of Market Tumble on U.S. Employees’ Retirement Income Needs

[2/26/09]  Vanguard Center for Retirement Research:  Research Note: “Participant Decisions to Stop Contributions, 2006-2008”

[2/26/09]  Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services:  Projected National Health Expenditures, 2008-2018

[2/26/09]  Internal Revenue Service:  COBRA: Answers for Employers

[2/25/09]  U.S. House Committee on Education and Labor:  Hearing on “Strengthening Worker Retirement Security” [Hearing held 2/24/09, includes links to testimonies]

[2/25/09]  Human Rights Campaign Foundation:  The State of the Workplace for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Americans, 2007-2008

[2/25/09]  Health Affairs:  “National Health Spending by Medical Condition, 1996-2005

[2/25/09]  National Conference of State Legislatures:  State Laws Mandating or Regulating Mental Health Benefits

[2/24/09]  Journal of Accountancy:  “IRS Releases New Withholding Tables

[2/24/09]  Internal Revenue Service:

[2/24/09]  The Vanguard Group:  Update on Participant Activity Amid Market Volatility

[2/24/09]  U.S. Department of Labor:  COBRA Continuation Coverage Assistance Under The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009

[2/23/09]  Pensions & Investments:  “Holmes, Salisbury Recipients of Lillywhite Award

[2/23/09]  U.S. House Committee on Education and Labor:  “Committee to Hold Hearings on Retirement Security, Improving Service and Volunteerism, and Workforce Investment

[2/23/09]  FINRA Investor Education Foundation:  The 2008 Military Financial Confidence Survey

[2/23/09]  eHealth Initiative:  Improving Our Nation’s Health and Healthcare Through Information Technology 

[2/20/09]  U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Program Perspectives:  “On Paid Leave Benefits: Vacations, Holidays, and Personal Leave: Access, Quantity, Costs, and Trends

[2/20/09]  Investment Company Institute Research Fundamentals:  “The U.S. Retirement Market, Third Quarter 2008

[2/20/09]  Peterson Institute for International Economics:  US Pension Reform: Lessons from Other Countries [2/18/09 presentation by Martin N. Baily & Jacob F. Kirkegaard based on a book of the same title]

[2/19/09]  Watson Wyatt Insider:  “Congress Wraps Up Busy 2007-2008 Term, More Benefit Activity Ahead

[2/19/09]  The Commonwealth Fund:  The Path to a High Performance U.S. Health System: A 2020 Vision and the Policies to Pave the Way

[2/19/09]  The Segal Company Bulletin:

[2/19/09]  Congressional Research Service:  Social Security Administration: Workloads, Resources, and Service Delivery

[2/18/09]  Pensions & Investments:

[2/18/09]  Internal Revenue Service:  Retirement News for Employers [Winter 2009]

[2/18/09]  Aon Consulting Alert:  “Congress Establishes Premium Subsidy for COBRA Beneficiaries

[2/18/09]  U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:  Union Members in 2008

[2/17/09]  Business Insurance:  “Employers Prepare for Surge in COBRA Enrollees

[2/17/09]  Robert Wood Johnson Foundation:  Including Employer Financing in State Health Reform Initiatives: Implications of Recent Court Decisions

[2/17/09]  American Hospital Association:  The Road to Economic Recovery: A Proposal to Support Health Care in America

[2/17/09]  America’s Health Insurance Plans Board of Directors’ StatementNow Is the Time for Health Care Reform: A Proposal to Achieve Universal Coverage, Affordability, Quality Improvement and Market Reform

[2/13/09]  U.S. Senate Committee on Finance:

[2/13/09]  Watson Wyatt Insider:  “Dramatic Drops in Interest Rates Forecast Much Lower DB Plan Funding Status on Accounting Basis for 2008

[2/13/09]  Milliman, Inc.:  Monthly Benefit News & Developments, February 2009

[2/13/09]  U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging:  “Harkin, Kohl Reintroduce Bill to Give Consumers Full Information on Exorbitant 401(k) Plan Management Fees

[2/13/09]  AARP Public Policy Institute:

[2/13/09]  U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:  Health Information Privacy [new website]

[2/13/09]  Watson Wyatt Insider:  “Review of ‘Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis’ by Tom Daschle

[2/13/09]  Deloitte:  Reducing Costs While Improving the U.S. Health Care System: The Health Care Reform Pyramid

[2/12/09]  U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration:  Defined Benefit Plan Annual Funding Notice - Pension Protection Act of 2006 [Field Assistance Bulletin 2009-01]

[2/12/09]  HR Policy Association Policy Brief:  “Proposed COBRA Expansion Would Increase Employer Health Care Costs an Estimated $39 to $65 Billion

[2/12/09]  Social Security Administration:  Income of the Population 55 or Older, 2006

[2/12/09]  National Academy for State Health Policy:  Maximizing Kids’ Enrollment in Medicaid and SCHIP: What Works in Reaching, Enrolling and Retaining Eligible Children

[2/9/09]  Urban Institute:  The Disappearing Defined Benefit Pension and Its Potential Impact on the Retirement Incomes of Boomers

[2/9/09]  U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration:

[2/6/09]  AmericaSavesWeek.org:  February 22-March 1, 2009

[2/6/09]  Buck Consultants FYI:  “Stimulus Bill Could Make Major COBRA Changes

[2/6/09]  Kaiser Family Foundation and American Cancer Society:  Spending to Survive: Cancer Patients Confront Holes in the Health Insurance System

[2/6/09]  The New England Journal of Medicine:  “Expanding Coverage for Children -- The Democrats’ Power and SCHIP Reauthorization” [Perspective]

[2/5/09]  Congressional Research Service:  The Worker, Retiree, and Employer Recovery Act of 2008: An Overview

[2/5/09]  Center for Retirement Research at Boston College Issue Brief:  “The Structure of 401(k) Fees

[2/5/09]  Medical Expenditure Panel Survey:

[2/5/09]  Robert Wood Johnson Foundation:  State of the States 2009 -- Charting a Course: Preparing for the Future, Learning from the Past

[2/4/09]  U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration:  Investment Advice--Participants and Beneficiaries; Notice of Proposed Extension of Effective Date and Applicability Date; Request for Public Comments on Legal and Policy Questions Relating to the Final Rule [as published in the Federal Register on Feb. 4, 2009]

[2/4/09]  Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Urban Institute:  Health Savings Accounts and High-Deductible Health Insurance Plans: Implications for Those with High Medical Costs, Low Incomes, and the Uninsured

[2/4/09]  Kaiser Family Foundation:

[2/3/09]  Deloitte Consulting and the International Society of Certified Employee Benefit Specialists:

[2/3/09]  Investment Company Institute:

[2/3/09]  MetLife U.S. Pension Risk Behavior Index:  Study of Risk Management Attitudes and Aptitude Among Defined Benefit Pension Plan Sponsors

[2/3/09]  Congressional Research Service:  Federal Employees: Pay and Pension Increases Since 1969

[2/2/09] Congressional Research Service:

[2/2/09]   AARP Public Policy Institute:  Planning for Retirement? Web Calculators Weak on Health Costs

[2/2/09]  Council for Affordable Health Insurance:  2009 State Legislators’ Guide to Health Insurance Solutions and Glossary

[2/2/09]  Kaiser Family Foundation:  “Pulling It Together: Multiple Agendas for Controlling Health Care Costs” from Drew Altman

Updated 2/27/09