What's New - January 2010

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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


January 2010 EBRI Issue Brief - "Implications of Health Reform for Retiree Health Benefits"

January 2010 EBRI Notes - "Employee Tenure, 2008," and "Retiree Health Benefit Trends Among the Medicare-Eligible Population"


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:

Medicaid and CHIP: Enrollment, Benefits, Expenditures, and Other Characteristics of State Premium Assistance Programs.  GAO-10-258R, January 19.

Social Security:  Options to Protect Benefits for Vulnerable Groups When Addressing Program Solvency.  GAO-10-101R, December 7.

Medicare Managed Care:  Observations about Medicare Cost Plans.  GAO-10-185, December 28. Highlights.

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.


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.

[1/22/10]  Hewitt Associates:  Significant Compensation and Benefit Due Dates for 2010

[1/22/10]  Investment Company Institute:

[1/22/10]  National Conference of State Legislatures:  Sustaining State Retirement Benefits: Recent State Legislation Affecting Public Retirement Plans, 2005-2009

[1/22/10]  National Academy of Social Insurance:  When to Take Social Security Benefits: Questions to Consider

[1/22/10]  Kaiser Family Foundation:  Kaiser Health Tracking Poll--January 2010 [measuring public opinion about health care reform]

[1/22/10]  Buck Consultants FYI:  “Deadline Approaches for Submission of Creditable Coverage Disclosures to CMS

[1/22/10]  Hewitt Associates:  “2009 Legislative and Regulatory Year in Review and the Outlook for 2010

[1/22/10]  U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:  The Health Information Security and Privacy Collaboration: HISPC Reports on State Law, Business Practices, and Policy Variations

[1/22/10]  The SPARK Institute:  Guidelines for Multiple Vendor 403(b) Plans: 2009 Form 5500 Aggregation - Version: F5500-1.0

[1/21/10]  AllianceBernstein:  Inside the Minds of Plan Sponsors: Assessing the State of Defined Contribution Plans Today

[1/21/10]  Towers Watson:  “Strong Market Returns Boost Funding Levels of Fortune 1000 DB Plans for 2009

[1/21/10]  U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration:  Profit Sharing Plans for Small Businesses

[1/21/10]  Internal Revenue Service:

[1/21/10]  National Conference of State Legislatures:  Access to Health Care: State Legislation for 2010

[1/21/10]  The Los Angeles Times:  “Democrats Reconsider Healthcare Possibilities

[1/20/10]  Milliman 100 Pension Funding Index:  Milliman Analysis: Second Consecutive Month of Increased Pension Funding Cannot Counteract Overall Deficit for 2009 [Funded status increased by $37 billion during December but was still down for the year by $31 billion]

[1/20/10]  PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Health Research Institute:  What Employers Want from Health Insurers in 2010: Better Information, More Value

[1/20/10]  National Institute for Health Care Reform Policy Analysis:  “Episode-Based Payments: Charting a Course for Health Care Payment Reform

[1/20/10]  Congressional Research Service (via National Conference of State Legislatures):  A Comparative Analysis of Private Health Insurance Provisions of H.R. 3962 and Senate-Passed H.R. 3590

[1/19/10]  Urban Institute:  Delaying Retirement an Additional Year Could Offset Stock Market Losses

[1/19/10]  The Segal Company:  Survey of Plans’ 2009 Zone Status

[1/19/10]  MassMutual Financial Group:  A Fiduciary Planning Guide for Plan Sponsors

[1/19/10]  U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration:  Publication of Model Notices for Health Care Continuation Coverage Provided Pursuant to the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) and Other Health Care Continuation Coverage, as required by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), as amended by the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2010, Notice [as published in the Federal Register on January 15, 2010]

[1/15/10]  The New York Times:  “Accord Reached on Insurance Tax for Costly Plans

[1/15/10]  Profit Sharing/401k Council of America:  Blog - “Be Prepared for the New Form 5500--More Sponsor Involvement Will Be Required”

[1/15/10]  Pyramis Global Advisors:  Research Paper: Liability-Driven Investing -- Risk Metrics and Strategy Evaluation

[1/15/10]  National Endowment for Financial Education:  Increasing the Effectiveness of Retirement Saving Programs for Females and Low-Income Employees: A Marketing Approach

[1/15/10]  HR Policy Association:  “Workplace Leave: Paid Sick Leave at the Top of the Agenda, But New Costs Would Be Piling On

[1/14/10]  Internal Revenue Service:

[1/14/10]  U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration:  Definition of “Plan Assets” -- Participant Contributions; Final Rule [as published in the Federal Register on January 14, 2010]

[1/14/10]  Ameriprise Financial:  “Ameriprise Financial Advisor Survey:  Advisors Believe Clients’ Confidence in Ability to Retire on Schedule Remains Steady” [Press Release]

[1/14/10]  Council for Affordable Health Insurance:  Health Reform Provisions That Could Impact Consumer-Driven Health Plans

[1/14/10]  The Washington Post:  “Obama Joins Congressional Leaders in Talks to Work Out Health-Care Kinks

[1/14/10]  The New York Times:  “Proposals Clash on States’ Role in Health Plans

[1/13/10]  Internal Revenue Service:  New Submission Procedures for Individually-Designed Plans -- 5-Year Remedial Amendment Cycle for Individually-Designed Plans Chart

[1/13/10]  Callan Associates:  “Plan Sponsors to Focus on Strategic Initiatives in 2010, Callan Survey Finds” [News Release]

[1/13/10]  CFO Magazine:  “A Question of Balance - The much-maligned 401(k) plan is being beefed up. So are the penalties for failing to manage it well.

[1/13/10]  The Washington Post:  “Health-Reform Headaches the Democrats Don’t Need” [Op-Ed]

[1/12/10]  The Los Angeles Times:

[1/12/10]  U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration:  COBRA Continuation Coverage Assistance Under ARRA [includes updated fact sheet, FAQs for employees, and posters and flyers updated for the provisions extending the ARRA premium reduction in the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2010]

[1/12/10]  Congressional Budget Office:  CBO Letter dated 1/11/10 to the Honorable Olympia Snowe Regarding Estimated Premiums for ‘Bronze’ Coverage under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

[1/12/10]  National Academy for State Health Policy:  Opportunities and Recommendations for State-Federal Coordination to Improve Health System Performance: A Focus on Patient Safety

[1/11/10]  Milliman, Inc.:

[1/11/10]  Sibson Consulting:  2010 Reporting & Disclosure Calendar for Benefit Plans

[1/11/10]  Investment Company Institute:  Enduring Confidence in the 401(k) System: Investor Attitudes and Actions

[1/11/10]  JPMorgan Asset Management:  Ready! Fire! Aim? 2009: How Some Target Date Fund Designs Continue to Miss the Mark on Providing Retirement Security to Those Who Need It Most

[1/8/10]  The New York Times:  “What Counts Toward the Cadillac Tax

[1/8/10]  The Commonwealth Fund:  The Health Insurance Provisions of the 2009 Congressional Health Reform Bills: Implications for Coverage, Affordability, and Costs

[1/8/10]  Center for American Progress and Leonard D. Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics:  New Jobs Through Better Health Care: Health Care Reform Could Boost Employment by 250,000 to 400,000 a Year This Decade

[1/8/10]  U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration:  Fact Sheet: Definition of Fiduciary Regulation (Investment Advice) - [Proposed Regulation]

[1/8/10]  Towers Watson:  Intricately Linked: Pensions and Corporate Financial Performance

[1/8/10]  America’s Health Insurance Plans:  Trends and Innovations in Disability Income

[1/8/10]  Kaiser Family Foundation:  “Pulling It Together: The Repeal Trap?” from Drew Altman

[1/8/10]  Issues in Science and Technology:  “Better U.S. Health Care at Lower Cost

[1/7/10]  Buck Consultants’ LegiSlateBuck Consultants Summary of Employment/Human Resources Legislation in the 111th Congress

[1/7/10]  Internal Revenue Service:

[1/7/10]  USA Today:  “What Can Investors Learn from a Dreary Decade?

[1/7/10]  Kaiser Family Foundation:  Side-by-Side Comparison of Major Health Care Reform Proposals [interactive comparison tool, updated on Jan. 4, 2010, to reflect the Senate bill passed on Dec. 24]

[1/7/10]  The New England Journal of Medicine:  “’Play-or-Pay’ Insurance Reforms for Employers -- Confusion and Inequity” [Perspective]

[1/7/10]  The Commonwealth Fund:  Health Insurance Exchanges in Health Care Reform: Legal and Policy Issues

[1/7/10]  Health Affairs:  “Health Spending Growth at a Historic Low in 2008

[1/6/10]  The New York Times:

[1/6/10]  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:  “Worksite Health Promotion: Principles, Resources, and Challenges

[1/6/10]  Center for Retirement Research at Boston College:  Is Pension Inequality Growing?

[1/6/10]  U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:  “The baby-boom generation to remain in the labor force

[1/5/10]  U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration:  Fact Sheet: COBRA Premium Reduction

[1/5/10]  The Commonwealth Fund Issue Brief:  “COBRA Subsidies for Laid-Off Workers: An Initial Report Card

[1/5/10]  National Center for Policy Analysis Brief Analysis:  “Roth 2010: Should You Convert?

[1/5/10]  Society of Actuaries:  “Actuaries Urge More Long-Term Planning and Sophisticated Tools to Address Retirement Risks” [Press Release]

[1/5/10]  Internal Revenue Service:  Child and Dependent Care Expenses--For Use in Preparing 2009 Returns [Publication 503]

[1/4/10]  Prudential Pension Analyst Compliance Bulletin:  “PBGC Issues 2010 Plan Year Guidance on Reportable Events

[1/4/10]  Milliman, Inc.:  401(k), 403(b), and 457(b) Plans - Key Features and Contribution Limits for 2010

[1/4/10]  Wisconsin Legislative Council:  2008 Comparative Study of Major Public Employee Retirement Systems

[1/4/10]  Center for Retirement Research at Boston College:

[1/4/10]  Hewitt Associates:  “Hewitt Research Continues to Show High Rate of COBRA Enrollments Among Subsidy-Eligible Employees” [Press Release]

[1/4/10]  Towers Perrin:  Weekly Health Care Reform Pulse: “The Stage Is Now Set for a Joint House-Senate Conference Committee” [12/28/09]

[1/4/10]  U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:  “Comparison of Take-up Rates in Employer-Provided Medical Care Plans: State and Local Government and Private Industry

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

Updated 1/22/10