What's New

What's New - June 2004

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What's new at EBRI this month:


June 2004 EBRI Issue Brief - "Medicare Prescription Drugs: Making the New Program Work"

June 2004 EBRI Notes - "The Impact on Employment-Based Health Benefits of the Shift From a Manufacturing Economy to a Service Economy" and "The Inflation Rate and the Actuarial Balance of the OASDI Trust Funds"

EBRI Spring Policy Forum - EBRI's spring Policy Forum entitled "ERISA AT 30: The Decline of Private-Sector Defined Benefit Promises and Annuity Payments? What Will It Mean?" was held in Washington, DC on May 6, 2004. Policy Forum Materials

EBRI Research Findings for 2003-2004:


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 General Accounting Office's Web site in Portable Document (PDF) format:

Social Security: Distribution of Benefits and Taxes Relative to Earnings Level. GAO-04-747, June 15.  Highlights

Comptroller General's Forum on Health Care: Unsustainable Trends Necessitate Comprehensive and Fundamental Reforms to Control Spending and Improve Value. GAO-04-793SP, May 2004.  Highlights

Social Security: Reform Proposals Could Have a Variety of Effects on Distribution of Benefits and Taxes, by David M. Walker, comptroller general of the United States, before the Senate Special Committee on Aging. GAO-04-872T, June 15.  Highlights

If a title link above no longer works, click here for the Find GAO Reports page and search for the report by report number,  title, abstract, agency/organization names, or subject terms.   Searches for reports can also be conducted in the General Accounting Office (GAO) Reports Online via GPO Access database.

 If your computer does not already have the free Adobe Acrobat viewer software to read PDF files, click here for the one-time download necessary to read PDF publications.

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.

[6/29/04]  Internal Revenue Service:  Employee Plans News [Summer 2004 issue]

[6/29/04]  Watson Wyatt Worldwide:  Pension Plan Funding Regains Some Lost Ground

[6/29/04]  Nationwide Retirement Education Institute:  America’s Retirement Voice: Employee and Employer Views on Current and Proposed Retirement Plans

[6/29/04]  Stateline.org:  50-State Rundown on Gay Marriage Laws

[6/29/04]  Galen Institute:  Health Savings Accounts: Early Experience Shows Broad Appeal

[6/23/04]  Center for Retirement Research at Boston College:   “Should We Raise Social Security’s Earliest Eligibility Age?

[6/23/04]  Internal Revenue Service:  Notice 2004-43 [Transition relief for individuals in states where high deductible health plans are not available because state laws bar or limit a deductible for certain benefits]

[6/23/04]  Investment Company Institute:  Mutual Funds and the U.S. Retirement Market in 2002

[6/23/04]  Mellon’s Human Resources & Investor Solutions:  Cash Balance Developments

[6/23/04]  The Alan Guttmacher Institute:  Contraceptive Insurance Coverage Has Improved Dramatically: State Laws Prove Effective, But There Is More to be Done

[6/23/04]  Families USA:  One in Three: Non-Elderly Americans Without Health Insurance, 2002-2003

[6/23/04]  The ESOP Association:  Survey Confirms Employee Ownership Is Wide Spread in America

[6/18/04]  Principal Financial Group:  Global Financial Well-Being Study

[6/18/04]  Segal Advisors:  Good News: Improved Investment Performance for Multiemployer Pension Funds in 2003

[6/18/04]  U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce:   Boehner, Johnson Plan to Move Forward with Solutions to Address Cash Balance Pension Plans

[6/18/04]  Harvard School of Public Health, Project on Global Working Families:  The Work, Family, and Equity Index: Where Does the United States Stand Globally?

[6/18/04]  S.2520, Healthy Families Act:   “A bill to provide for paid sick leave to ensure that Americans can address their own health needs and the health needs of their families.”  Bill Summary & Status Information.

[6/16/04]  U.S. Department of the Treasury:  Age-Discrimination Regulations, Announcement 2004-57 [pulling proposed cash balance plan regulations]

[6/16/04]  Workspan:  “The Effects of Multi-Tier Prescription Plans: Look Before You Leap

[6/16/04]  National Partnership for Women & Families:  States, Federal Government Failing to Provide Minimal Paid Sick Days to American Workers

[6/15/04]  The Segal Company:  The Final COBRA Notice Rules

[6/15/04]  Hewitt Associates:  Hewitt Survey Shows Employers Making Efforts to Reduce 401(k) Costs: Research Reveals Most Companies Concerned about 401(k) Fee Impact on Employee Retirement Savings

[6/15/04]  Congressional Budget Office:  The Outlook for Social Security

[6/15/04]  Towers Perrin:  Towers Perrin Survey Finds Consumer-Driven Health Care Strategies Jeopardized by Employer and Employee Discontents

[6/15/04]  U.S. Department of the Treasury:  Treasury and the IRS Finalize Defined Benefit Plan and Annuity Distribution Rules

[6/15/04]  Hewitt Associates:  Breaking Down the Barriers: Insights on Boosting 401(k) Plan Participation and Interaction

[6/10/04]  Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation:  Technical Update 04-3: Transition from Use of 30-Year Treasury Yield to Corporate Bond Index for Certain PBGC Purposes (June 4, 2004)

[6/10/04]  Deloitte’s Washington BulletinFederal Law Doesn’t Recognize Same-Sex Marriages: Effect on Employee Benefits

[6/10/04]  Health Affairs:  “Tracking Health Care Costs: Trends Turn Downward in 2003

[6/8/04]  Hewitt Associates:  HMO Rates Continue Double-Digit Increases, But Begin to Moderate

[6/8/04]  Towers Perrin:  U.S. Legislative Tracking Chart -- Retirement Plans [updated May 28, 2004]

[6/8/04]  Towers Perrin:  U.S. Legislative Tracking Chart -- Health and Welfare [updated May 28, 2004]

[6/8/04]  Business Insurance:  "Brokers Predict Big Future for HSAs"

[6/8/04]  The Segal Company:  Health Savings Accounts for Multiemployer Health Funds

[6/3/04]  U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration:  Health Care Continuation Coverage; Final RuleNoticesPress Release

[6/3/04]  Center for Retirement Research at Boston College:   Asset Allocation and Information Overload: The Influence of Information Display, Asset Choice and Investor Experience

[6/3/04]  The Segal Company:  2003 Segal State Health Benefits Survey: Medical Plan Design for Employees and Retirees

[6/3/04]  American Academy of Actuaries:  Averting the Next Pension Crisis

[6/3/04]  U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics:   Compensation and Working Conditions Online: “Documenting Benefits Coverage for All Workers,” by William J. Wiatrowski

[6/1/04]  Mellon’s Human Resources & Investor Solutions:  Mellon’s HR&IS 2004 Survey of Cash Balance Plans

[6/1/04]  The Segal Company:  After the Storm: Next Steps for Multiemployer Pension Plans

[6/1/04]  American Benefits Council:  Pensions at the Precipice:  The Multiple Threats Facing Our Nation’s Defined Benefit Pension System

[6/1/04]  Wilshire Associates, Inc.:  2004 Wilshire Report on State Retirement Systems: Funding Levels and Asset Allocation

[6/1/04]  Center for Studying Health System Change:  Employers Shift Rising Health Care Costs to Workers: No Long-term Solution in Sight

[6/1/04]  Watson Wyatt Worldwide:  Pension Funding Debate to Involve Broad Review


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Updated 7/1/04