What's New - March 2006

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What's new at EBRI this month:


March 2006 EBRI Issue Brief - "Defined Benefit Plan Freezes: Who's Affected, How Much, and Replacing Lost Accruals"

March 2006 EBRI Notes - "Retirement Plans and Retirement Confidence in Higher Education" and "Retirement Annuity and Employment-Based Pension Income Among Individuals Ages 50 and Over: 2004"


October 6, 2005 - Updated Ballpark E$timate Available, Americans trying to estimate how much they need to save for a comfortable retirement now have an updated and easy-to-use tool -- the Ballpark E$timate.

EBRI Fact Sheet on PBGC - A four-page fact sheet with background information, key data and charts, and information links about the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), the federal agency that insures the traditional pensions of about 44 million Americans.

Frequently Asked Questions About Benefits - This section of EBRI's Web site is designed to answer basic questions about major benefit issues and trends. It provides short, graphical answers, with links to the detailed data underlying the figure. In addition, references are provided to the relevant EBRI publication.

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 Government Accountability Office's Web site in Portable Document (PDF) format:

Unemployment Insurance: Factors Associated with Benefit Receipt. GAO-06-341, March 7.  Highlights.

Employee Compensation: Employer Spending on Benefits Has Grown Faster Than Wages, Due Largely to Rising Costs for Health Insurance and Retirement. GAO-06-285, February 24.  Highlights.

Health Information Technology: HHS Is Continuing to Make Progress toward Defining a National Strategy, by David A. Powner, director, information technology, before the Subcommittee on Federal Workforce and Agency Organization, House Committee on Government Reform. GAO-06-346T, March 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 Government Accountability 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.

[3/31/06] Financial Accounting Standards Board:  "FASB Issues Exposure Draft to Improve Accounting for Postretirement Benefit Plans, Including Pensions"

[3/31/06] Center for Retirement Research at Boston College:  Personalized Retirement Advice and Managed Accounts: Who Uses Them and How Does Advice Affect Behavior in 401(k) Plans? [working paper]

[3/31/06] On Wall Street:  "The Debate Over Plan Advice"

[3/31/06] National Conference of State Legislatures:  Domestic Partner Retirement Benefits: Survey of Legislative Staff Who Work on State Retirement System Issues, and Public Employee Retirement Systems Staff in the 50 States

[3/31/06] A.G. Edwards:  A.G. Edwards Nest Egg Score: A Quarterly Measurement of National Savings & Investment Activities

[3/30/06] BenefitNews Connect:  "Tax Man Cometh - A Few Days Late"

[3/30/06] Hewitt Associates:  CMS Issues More Guidance on Retiree Drug Subsidy -- Employer Action Required Soon. CMS Retiree Drug Subsidy Program Web Site

[3/30/06] Milliman Client Action Bulletin:  "CMS Guidance on COBRA-Covered Individuals and Retiree Drug Subsidy"

[3/30/06] Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report:  "Few U.S. Residents Would Pay More for Higher-Quality Health Care, Poll Finds"

[3/29/06] U.S. Department of the Treasury:  Fact Sheet: Dramatic Growth of Health Savings Accounts (HSAs)

[3/29/06] Internal Revenue Service: Revised Regulations Concerning Disclosure of Relative Values of Optional Forms of Benefit; Final Regulations [published in the Federal Register on March 24, 2006]

[3/29/06] Know Your Pension:  New Web Site

[3/24/06] American Academy of Actuaries:  Analysis of Congressional Pension Funding Reform Proposals (Updated March 2006)

[3/24/06] 401khelpcenter.com:  The Five Biggest Financial Retirement Mistakes

[3/24/06] Congressional Budget Office:  Uncertain Policy for an Uncertain World: The Case of Social Security [Working Paper]

[3/24/06] National Center for Policy Analysis Brief Analysis No. 544:  "Health Savings Accounts: Answering the Critics, Part I"

[3/24/06] National Center for Policy Analysis Brief Analysis No. 545:  "Health Savings Accounts: Answering the Critics, Part II"

[3/24/06] National Center for Policy Analysis Brief Analysis No. 546:  "Health Savings Accounts: Answering the Critics, Part III"

[3/23/06] AARP:  State Profiles: Reforming the Health Care System 2005

[3/23/06] Health Affairs:  "Understanding Social Insurance: Fairness, Affordability and the ‘Modernization’ of Social Security and Medicare"

[3/23/06] Center for Retirement Research at Boston College:  Why Are Healthy Employers Freezing Their Pensions?

[3/23/06] Morningstar:  "Fiduciary Focus: The Pension and 401(k) Hybrid"

[3/22/06] U.S. Joint Committee on Taxation:  Comparison of the Revenue Effects of the Provisions of H.R.2830, the “Pension Protection Act of 2005,” As Passed by the House of Representatives, and H.R.2830, the “Pension Security and Transparency Act of 2005,” As Amended by the Senate, Fiscal Years 2006-2016

[3/22/06] Urban Institute:  Making Maximum Use of Tax-Deferred Retirement Accounts

[3/22/06] Social Security Administration Policy Brief:  "Defined Contribution Pension Plans and the Supplemental Security Income Program"

[3/22/06] AARP Fact Sheet:  "Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance in the United States in 2004"

[3/22/06] Families USA:  The Enzi Bill [S.1955]: Bad Medicine for America

[3/21/06] S.1955, Health Insurance Marketplace Modernization and Affordability Act of 2005:  “A bill to amend title I of the Employee Retirement Security Act of 1974 and the Public Health Service Act to expand health care access and reduce costs through the creation of small business health plans and through modernization of the health insurance marketplace.”  Bill Summary & Status Information.

[3/21/06] U.S. Department of Labor:  Mental Health Parity Act Extended to End of Year

[3/21/06] International Society of Certified Employee Benefit Specialists and Towers Perrin:  Employers With Retiree Drug Benefits Charting Different Courses for 2007

[3/21/06] U.S. Senate Committee on Finance:  Individual Savings Provisions in the Savings Competitiveness Act of 2006

[3/20/06] International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans:  National Employee Benefits Day, April 3, 2006

[3/20/06] National Center for Policy Analysis Brief Analysis No. 543:  "Personal and Portable Health Insurance"

[3/20/06] Center for Studying Health System Change Commentary No. 2:  "A Decade of Tracking Health System Change"

[3/20/06] American Benefits Council:  Retirement Plan Community Urges Conferees to Include EGTRRA Pension and Retirement Savings Permanency in Pension Reform Conference Report

[3/17/06] Congressional Budget Office:  An Analysis of the President’s Budgetary Proposals for Fiscal Year 2007

[3/17/06] The Segal Company Capital Checkup:  "Final HIPAA Enforcement Rule"

[3/17/06] Watson Wyatt Worldwide:  Delivering on Health Care Consumerism: Strategies for Employer Success - 11th Annual National Business Group on Health/Watson Wyatt Survey Report 2006 [Executive Summary]

[3/17/06] Hewitt Associates:  Three Generations Prepare for Retirement

[3/17/06] BenefitNews Connect:  "Experts Predict Shape of Pension Funds to Come"

[3/16/06] Buck Consultants LegiSlate:  "Pension Funding Conference Begins"

[3/16/06] Business Insurance:  "Baucus to Introduce 401(k) Reform Measure"

[3/16/06] Prudential Financial:  Elective Deferral Limits for 2006 For Employees of Non-Profit and Governmental Employers

[3/16/06] Milliman, Inc.:  Benefits Perspectives: Current Issues in Employee Benefits

[3/16/06] National Center for Policy Analysis Brief Analysis No. 542:  "Bush’s Answer to Hillarycare"

[3/16/06] AFL-CIO:  The Wal-Mart Tax: Shifting Health Care Costs to Taxpayers

[3/15/06] U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging:  Hearing on "Bridging the Gender Gap: Eliminating Retirement Income Disparity for Women" [includes links to statements]

[3/15/06] The Segal Company Bulletin:  "Implications for Multiemployer Plans of the Pension Funding Reform Proposals Congress Is Considering"

[3/15/06] Unified Trust Company:  Measuring and Monitoring the Long-Term Success of Defined Contribution Plan Participants, 2006 Update

[3/15/06] Mercer Human Resource Consulting:  Global Retirement Perspective, Sixth Edition

[3/15/06] MSN Money:  "9 Keys to Choosing the Right Health Plan"

[3/13/06] U.S. Internal Revenue Service:  SIMPLE IRA Plan Document Compliance and Relief

[3/13/06] CNNMoney.com:  "Some May Profit from Pension Freezes"

[3/13/06] Employee Benefit News:  "DB Plan on Ice or Soon to be Frozen? It Is Time for an Investment Strategy Overhaul"

[3/13/06] U.S. Census Bureau:  65+ in the United States: 2005

[3/10/06] Employee Benefit News:  "Retiree Medical Benefits-Past, Present and Future"

[3/10/06] America’s Health Insurance Plans:  January 2006 Census Shows 3.2 Million People Covered by HSA Plans

[3/10/06] Employee Benefit News:  "Pension Reform Has Little Impact on Current Funding"

[3/10/06] TIAA-CREF Institute:  Trends and Issues: Tax-Efficient Saving and Investing

[3/9/06] Buck Consultants LegiSlate:  "Bush Administration’s 2007 Budget: Proposed Health Care Reforms"

[3/9/06] Employee Benefit News:  "Advice Tug-of-War -- Pension Bills Take Different Approaches on Providing Investment Information"

[3/9/06] U.S. Joint Committee on Taxation:  Comparison of the Provisions of H.R.2830, The “Pension Protection Act of 2005,” As Passed by the House of Representatives on December 15, 2005, and H.R.2830, The “Pension Security and Transparency Act of 2005,” As Passed by the Senate on March 3, 2006

[3/9/06] Center for Retirement Research at Boston College:  "401(k) Plans Are Still Coming Up Short"

[3/9/06] AllianceBernstein Investments:  Implications of Participant Behavior for Plan Design, by Shlomo Benartzi

[3/8/06] U.S. Joint Committee on Taxation:  Present Law and Analysis Relating to the Tax Treatment of Health Care Expenses

[3/8/06] Employee Benefit News:  "Consumer-Driven Crossroads: Employers Grapple with the Best Consumer-Driven Path to Take"

[3/8/06] Employee Benefit News:  "Weighing the Pros and Cons of Self-Funding a Health Plan"

[3/8/06] Council for Affordable Health Insurance:  Health Insurance Mandates in the States -- 2006

[3/8/06] CCA Strategies, LLC:  Current Pension Legislative Outlook - March 6, 2006

[3/8/06] Congressional Budget Office:  Evaluating Benefit Guarantees in Social Security: A Background Paper

[3/6/06] Monthly Labor Review:  "Trends in Retirement Plan Coverage over the Last Decade"

[3/6/06] Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:  Saver’s Credit for Moderate-Income Families Would Fade Away Over Time Under House-Passed Pension Bill

[3/3/06] GovExec.com:  "OPM Unveils Retirement Education Prototype"

[3/3/06] Business Week Online:  "Life Without a 401(k)"

[3/3/06] Managed Care Magazine:  "Consumer-Directed Health Pains: Two Studies Suggest That This Design May Not Be a Long-Term Method for Controlling Costs"

[3/3/06] Society for Human Resource Management:  "Bearing Fruit: Usage Rates for Traditional Tuition Assistance Programs Are Low, So Employers Are Tempting Employees with Free Tuition and Bonuses"

[3/3/06] Employee Benefit News:  "Clarified USERRA Guides Handling of Military Service"

[3/2/06] The White House:  Vice President’s Remarks at the 2006 Saver Summit

[3/2/06] MetLife:  "MetLife Study Finds Employers/Employees Worry About Aging Workforce and Retirement Security, But Few Take Steps to Address Situation"

[3/2/06] AARP Bulletin:  "Avoid 401(k) Neglect: Paying Attention Can Pay Off"

[3/1/06] Families USA:  President Bush’s Fiscal Year 2007 Budget: Analysis of Key Health Care Provisions

[3/1/06] Employee Benefit News:  "Employers Should Monitor Fair Share Campaign"

[3/1/06] National Conference of State Legislatures:  2006 Prescription Drug State Legislation

[3/1/06] BenefitNews Connect:  "Higher Co-Pay Differentials Increase Generic Fill Rates"

[3/1/06] Milliman’s Defined Contribution Connection:  "Is Your 401(k) Plan Roth Ready?"

[3/1/06] Invesmart:  Considering Roth 401(k)

[2/23/06] U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration:  The 2006 National Summit on Retirement Savings  

Updated 3/31/06