What's New - January 2012

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What's new at EBRI this month:

EBRI 2011 Fall Policy Forum: “Innovations in Employment-Based Health Benefits: Lessons Learned for Public Policy” [“gavel to gavel” webcast - Prerecorded broadcast available through the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans]

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


January 2012 EBRI Issue Brief - "Health Savings Accounts and Health Reimbursement Arrangements: Assets, Account Balances, and Rollovers, 2006-2011"

January 2012 EBRI Notes - "The Impact of PPACA on Employment-Based Health Coverage of Adult Children to Age 26" and "Spending Adjustments Made By Older Americans to Save Money"


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.

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.


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.

[1/30/12]  Bureau of Labor Statistics Program PerspectivesOn Health Benefit Costs by Wage Category: “Costs and Participation Increase for Higher Paid Workers”

[1/30/12]  U.S. Census Bureau:  2010 State Public-Employee Retirement Systems Data

[1/30/12]  Plan Sponsor:  “Boomer Retirements Likely to Boost IRA Share of Retirement Market

[1/30/12]  AdvisorOne:  “401(k)s to Overtake Pensions as Primary Retirement Vehicle in 2012: State Street

[1/27/12]  National Center for Health Statistics Data Brief:  “Health and Access to Care Among Employed and Unemployed Adults: United States, 2009-2010

[1/27/12]  Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight:  Essential Health Benefits: Illustrative List of the Largest Three Small Group Products by States

[1/27/12]  U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Subcommittee on Federal Workforce, U.S. Postal Service, and Labor Policy:  Hearing on “Retirement Readiness: Strengthening the Federal Pension System” [Hearing held Jan. 25, 2012, includes links to hearing video and to written testimonies]

[1/27/12]  Plan Sponsor:

[1/27/12]  Financial Industry Regulatory Authority:  Regulatory Notice 12-02: Advertising Regulation: FINRA Provides Guidance on Application of Communications Rules to Disclosures Required by Department of Labor

[1/27/12]  International Monetary Fund:  The Challenge of Public Pension Reform in Advanced and Emerging Economies

[1/26/12]  Aon Hewitt:  2012 Hot Topics in Retirement: Survey Highlights

[1/26/12]  Kaiser Family Foundation:  Kaiser Health Tracking Poll -- January 2012

[1/26/12]  National Center for Policy Analysis [Blog]:  “EBRI’s Latest on HSA and HRA Balances

[1/26/12]  The Commonwealth Fund Blog:  “Bending the Health Care Cost Curve: New Era in American Health Care?

[1/25/12]  U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:  Medical Care Benefits, March 2011 [Private-Industry Workers]

[1/25/12]  Sibson Consulting Perspectives:  “Beyond Rational Thinking: Using Behavioral Economics to Improve Workforce Health and Organizational Outcomes

[1/25/12]  Kaiser Health News:  “Health Plans Launch Own Exchanges Ahead of Public Versions

[1/25/12]  Investment Company Institute:  America’s Commitment to Retirement Security: Investor Attitudes and Actions

[1/25/12]  Insured Retirement Institute:  Retirement Readiness of Generation X: An Overview of the Next Generation of Retirement Investors

[1/25/12]  Society of Actuaries:  Moving Beyond the Limitations of Traditional Replacement Rates

[1/25/12]  U.S. News & World Report [Blog]:  “Senior Finances and the Great Entitlements Debate

[1/25/12]  Securities and Exchange Commission:  Comment Request for Study Regarding Financial Literacy Among Investors; Request for comment [as published in the Federal Register on Jan. 23, 2012]

[1/24/12]  The Principal Financial Well-Being Index:  Wellness Summary 4th Quarter 2011 [“This is one in a series of quarterly studies to identify and track changes in the workplace of small and mid-sized (growing) businesses.  The first Principal Financial Well-Being Index survey was conducted in the United States in 2000.”]

[1/24/12]  The Wall Street Journal:  “Should Everyone Be Required to Have Health Insurance?

[1/24/12]  Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies:  Women: Let’s Talk About Retirement -- The 12th Annual Transamerica Retirement Survey

[1/24/12]  SmartMoney.com [Blog]:  “Lessons for Retirees from Kodak’s Bankruptcy

[1/20/12]  Towers Watson Insider:  “Retirement Planning In a Post-Crisis Economy

[1/20/12]  Business Finance Magazine:  “January HR Roundup: From 401(k) Plans to Health Care Coverage

[1/20/12]  Employee Benefit News:  “Wellness programs save lives! And maybe money, too…

[1/20/12]  The White House:  2012 Progress Report: States Are Implementing Health Reform

[1/20/12]  Plan Sponsor:

[1/20/12]  RAND Financial Literacy Center:  Financial Advisors’ Role in Influencing Social Security Claiming [Working Paper prepared for the Social Security Administration]

[1/19/12]  Reuters (via Employee Benefit News):  “Taxes: Prepare for higher child care, commuting costs in 2012

[1/19/12]  Wisconsin Legislative Council:  2010 Comparative Study of Major Public Employee Retirement Systems

[1/19/12]  Bloomberg:  “Congress’s Six-Figure Benefits Add to $674 Billion Pension Gap

[1/19/12]  USA Today:  “Options for 401(k) plans get more affordable

[1/19/12]  The Segal Company’s Capital Checkup:  “How to Handle Medical Loss Ratio Rebates: Guidance for Insurance Plans Subject to ERISA

[1/19/12]  Congressional Budget Office:  Implications of Rising Health Care Costs [Presentation to the Heritage Foundation]

[1/18/12]  The Segal Company:  2012 Reporting & Disclosure Calendar for Multiemployer Plans

[1/18/12]  Plan Sponsor:

[1/18/12]  Bloomberg:  “Look at Jobs Before Leaping on Older Retirement: Peter Orszag

[1/18/12]  Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Urban Institute:  Eliminating the Individual Mandate: Effects on Premiums, Coverage, and Uncompensated Care

[1/18/12]  The Washington Post:  “Report: Young adults making gains under health-care law

[1/17/12]  Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation:  Benefits Payable in Terminated Single-Employer Plans; Interest Assumptions for Paying Benefits; Final rule [as published in the Federal Register on January 13, 2012]

[1/17/12]  Plan Sponsor:

[1/17/12]  LifeHealthPro:  “EBRI: Health Account Enrollment Jumps

[1/17/12]  The Washington Post:  “Amid downturn, more older Americans employed than ever before

[1/13/12]  Sibson Consulting:  2012 Reporting & Disclosure Calendar for Benefit Plans

[1/13/12]  U.S. Department of Health & Human Services:  Medicare Program; Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Benefit Programs: Negotiated Pricing and Remaining Revisions; Prescription Drug Benefit Program: Payments to Sponsors of Retiree Prescription Drug Plans; Final rule [as published in the Federal Register on Jan. 12, 2012]

[1/13/12]  Medical Expenditure Panel Survey and Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Statistical Brief #354:  “The Concentration and Persistence in the Level of Health Expenditures over Time: Estimates for the U.S. Population, 2008-2009

[1/13/12]  The New England Journal of Medicine:  “The Fate of Health Care Reform -- What to Expect in 2012

[1/13/12]  Plan Sponsor:  “Account-Based Health Plans Grow in 2011

[1/13/12]  National Journal:  “Republican Candidates Get Lucky on Health Insurance

[1/13/12]  Society of Actuaries:  Retirement Security in the New Economy: Developing New Paradigms for the Payout Period

[1/13/12]  Human Resource Executive Online [Blog]:  “One in Five Older Americans Are Cutting Back

[1/12/12]  SmartMoney.com [Blog]:  “For Some Target Funds, History Repeats

[1/12/12]  The Vanguard Group:  “Favorable tax environment adds to Roth 401(k) appeal

[1/12/12]  Investment News:  “Boomers roll the dice, skip meds to make ends meet

[1/12/12]  Business Insurance:  “HHS approves more mini-med health care plan waivers

[1/12/12]  Congressional Budget Office:  Issue Brief: “Raising the Ages of Eligibility for Medicare and Social Security”

[1/12/12]  RAND Financial Literacy Center:  How To Improve Social Security Education: Retirement Plan Providers’ Perspectives [Working Paper prepared for the Social Security Administration]

[1/11/12]  National Association of Health Underwriters:

[1/11/12]  LifeHealthPro:  “EBRI: PPACA Helped Young Adults

[1/11/12]  Plan Sponsor:

[1/11/12]  U.S. Senate Committee on Finance:  State and Local Government Defined Benefit Pension Plans: The Pension Debt Crisis that Threatens America [A Report by Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (R-Utah)]

[1/11/12]  MetLife:  Multi-Generational Views on Family Financial Obligations: A MetLife Survey of Baby Boomers and Members of Generations X and Y

[1/11/12]  Society of Actuaries:  How Deep Is the Hole? Recovering from the Market Downturn of 2008

[1/10/12]  Milliman Inc.:  Monthly Benefit News and Developments [January 2012]

[1/10/12]  The Wall Street Journal:  “Target Funds Miss Their Marks -- Again

[1/10/12]  Principal Financial Group:  What You Should Know About Fiduciary Status Under ERISA

[1/10/12]  PIMCO DC Dialogue™:  “Four building blocks to outcome-focused plans” [“In this PIMCO DC Dialogue, we talk with Lew Minsky, executive director of DCIIA and former plan sponsor, about the mission of the Defined Contribution Institutional Investment Association.”]

[1/10/12]  SmartMoney.com:  “Secrets of the 401(k) Millionaires

[1/10/12]  Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services:  “Growth in U.S. Health Spending Remains Slow in 2010” [Press Release]

[1/9/12]  Milliman 100 Pension Funding Index:  “Milliman analysis: 2011 historic low interest rates drive corporate pensions to record funded status deficit of $464 billion

[1/9/12]  Urban Institute Fact Sheet on Retirement Policy:  “Retirement Account Balances (updated January 2012) -- Accumulations in Retirement Accounts, 2007 to 2011

[1/9/12]  The Wall Street Journal:

[1/9/12]  Sun-Sentinel:  “Florida has lowest rate of workers saving in an employer retirement plan

[1/6/12]  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. 2012-5] - [Note: This includes the 2012 Covered Compensation Table]

[1/6/12]  Chattanooga Times Free Press:  “Personal Finance: Take full advantage of retirement savings options

[1/6/12]  Urban Institute Program on Retirement Policy:  How Would the President’s Fiscal Commission’s Social Security Proposals Affect Future Beneficiaries?

[1/6/12]  The Segal Company’s Capital Checkup:  “ERRP Comes to a Close: Helping Plan Sponsors Keep What They Have Received

[1/6/12]  Plan Sponsor:  “Employers Would Follow Their Peers on Offering Health Benefits

[1/6/12]  USA Today:  “Workplaces ban not only smoking, but smokers themselves

[1/5/12]  Business Insurance:  “IRS issues guidance on reporting health coverage costs on employees’ W-2s

[1/5/12]  American Medical News:

[1/5/12]  Kaiser Family Foundation:

[1/5/12]  U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration:  Fact Sheet #77B: Protection for Individuals under the FMLA

[1/4/12]  Social Security Administration:  OASDI and SSI Program Rates & Limits, 2012

[1/4/12]  Internal Revenue Service:  Interim Guidance on Informational Reporting to Employees of the Cost of Their Group Health Insurance Coverage [Notice 2012-9]

[1/4/12]  The Washington Post:  “Five health reform dates to watch in 2012

[1/4/12]  StaffingTalk.com:  “ObamaCare and the Changes in Employee Health Insurance

[1/4/12]  Towers Watson:  The New Governance Landscape: Implications from the 2011 Towers Watson U.S. Retirement Plan Governance Survey

[1/4/12]  Bloomberg BusinessWeek:  “Professional Women and a Secure Retirement

[1/3/12]  U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration:

[1/3/12]  MarketWatch:  “Retirement-plan changes coming in 2012

[1/3/12]  BNA Pension & Benefits Daily (via Aon Inc.):  “Frozen Defined Benefit Plans -- Considerations and Strategies for Employers

[1/3/12]  Plan Sponsor:  “Payroll Tax Cut Bill Includes Recapture Tax

[1/3/12]  Center for Studying Health System Change Tracking Report:  “Medical Bill Problems Steady for U.S. Families, 2007-2010

[1/3/12]  Kansas City Star:  “2011 showed small but steady changes in employee health insurance plans

[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]  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]

Updated 1/30/12