What's New - March 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


March 2009 EBRI Issue Brief - "Use of Target-Date Funds in 401(k) Plans, 2007"

March 2009 EBRI Notes - "Outlook for Consumer/Patient Engagement in Health Care--30 Years into the Experiment"


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:

Private Health Insurance: 2008 Survey Results on Number and Market Share of Carriers in the Small Group Health Insurance Market. GAO-09-363R, February 27.

Defined Benefit Pensions: Survey Results of the Nation's Largest Private Defined Benefit Plan Sponsors. GAO-09-291, March 30. Highlights.

State Children's Health Insurance Program: CMS Should Improve Efforts to Assess whether SCHIP Is Substituting for Private Insurance. GAO-09-252, February 20. Highlights.

Private Pensions: Conflicts of Interest Can Affect Defined Benefit and Defined Contribution Plans, by Charles A. Jeszeck, acting director, education, workforce, and income security, before the Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions, House Committee on Education and Labor. GAO-09-503T, March 24.


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.

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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.

[3/31/09]  U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Program Perspectives:  “Defined-Contribution Plans More Common Than Defined-Benefit Plans

[3/31/09]  Internal Revenue Service:  Employee Plans News [Special Edition, March 2009]

[3/31/09]  The Washington Post:  “Recession Puts a Major Strain on Social Security Trust Fund -- As Payroll Tax Revenue Falls, So Does Surplus

[3/30/09]  Internal Revenue Service:

[3/30/09]  U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration:  [Note: All of the following were published in the Federal Register on March 27, 2009]

[3/30/09]  Vanguard Investment Counseling & Research:  Implications of a Bear Market for Retirement Security

[3/27/09]  National Academy for State Health Policy:  Including Employer Financing in State Health Reform Initiatives: Implications of Recent Court Decisions

[3/27/09]  Social Security Administration:  Social Security Bulletin: Annual Statistical Supplement, 2008

[3/26/09]  U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions:  Hearing on “Addressing Insurance Market Reform in National Health Reform” [Hearing held March 24, including audio/video and links to testimonies]

[3/26/09]  Journal of Compensation and Benefits:  “Local Government Retiree Health Care: Current Offerings and Future Direction

[3/26/09]  Alliance for Health Reform:  Covering Health Issues: A Sourcebook for Journalists [5th edition]

[3/26/09]  The Retirement Security Project:  Conference on “Financial Literacy in Times of Turmoil and Retirement Insecurity” [Conference Memos and Presentations]

[3/25/09]  U.S. House Committee on Education and Labor Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions:  Hearing on “Retirement Security: The Importance of an Independent Investment Adviser” [Hearing held March 24, 2009, including links to testimonies]

[3/25/09]  Center for Retirement Research at Boston College:  What Does It Cost to Guarantee Returns?

[3/25/09]  Robert Wood Johnson Foundation:  At the Brink: Trends in America’s Uninsured -- A State-by-State Analysis

[3/24/09]  MetLife:  7th Annual Study of Employee Benefits Trends: Findings from the National Survey of Employers and Employees

[3/24/09]  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention NCHS Data Brief No. 15:  “Consumer-Directed Health Care for Persons Under 65 Years of Age with Private Health Insurance: United States, 2007” 

[3/24/09]  Economic Policy Institute Policy Memorandum:  “Not-So-Easy Money: Taxing Health Benefits Comes with Costs

[3/24/09]  Milliman, Inc.:  Milliman 2009 Pension Funding Study: Five Years of Pension Gains Wiped Out in 2008

[3/23/09]  U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration:

[3/23/09]  Hewitt Associates:  “Hewitt Survey Finds U.S. Employers Still Offering Generous Employee Severance Packages Despite Economic Conditions” [Press Release]

[3/23/09]  Urban Institute Brief Series No. 25:  “It’s Not Easy Being Gray: The New Rules of Retirement

[3/23/09]  U.S. Joint Committee on Taxation:  General Explanation of Tax Legislation Enacted in the 110th Congress

[3/19/09]  Internal Revenue Service:  Asset Valuation under Section 430(g)(3)(B) as Amended by WRERA [Notice 2009-22]

[3/19/09]  Retirement USA:  Principles for a New Retirement System [Working Paper]

[3/19/09]  Kaiser Family Foundation:

[3/19/09]  Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Urban Institute:  How Effectively Does The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Help Laid-Off Workers and States Cope with Health Care Costs?

[3/18/09]  Medical Expenditure Panel Survey Statistical Brief #230:  “Health Insurance Coverage of Near Elderly Individuals, Ages 55-64, 2006

[3/18/09]  New America Foundation:  A Modest Proposal for a Competing Public Health Plan

[3/18/09]  Kaiser Family Foundation:  “Pulling It Together: Jobs, a Reason to Fast Track Coverage” from Drew Altman

[3/18/09]  WorldatWork:  Trends in 401(k) Plans:  A Survey of WorldatWork Members and American Benefits Council Members

[3/17/09]  Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation:  Annual Financial and Actuarial Information Reporting; Pension Protection Act of 2006; Final Rule [as published in the Federal Register on March 16, 2009]

[3/17/09]  Social Security Administration:  One-Time Economic Recovery Payment, 2009 [a leaflet that discusses distribution of the one-time payment]

[3/17/09]  Sun Life Financial®:

[3/17/09]  Monthly Labor Review:  “Leisure and Illness Leave: Estimating Benefits in Combination

[3/16/09]  Urban Institute Fact Sheet on Retirement Policy:  “How Is the Financial Crisis Affecting Retirement Savings?” [March 9, 2009, Update]

[3/16/09]  Principal Financial Group:  The Principal Financial Well-Being Index, Index Summary - First Quarter 2009

[3/16/09]  BrightScope™:  401(k) Plan Ratings

[3/16/09]  Center for Retirement Research at Boston College:  Rising Tides and Retirement: The Aggregate and Distributional Effects of Differential Wage Growth on Social Security [Working Paper]

[3/12/09]  U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:  Employer Costs for Employee Compensation--December 2008

[3/12/09]  Watson Wyatt Worldwide:  “U.S. Pension Plan Funding Plunged by More Than $300 Billion in 2008, Watson Wyatt Analysis Finds” [Press Release]

[3/12/09]  Business Roundtable:  2009 Health Care Value Comparability Study:

[3/12/09]  U.S. House Committee on Education and Labor Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions:  Hearing on “Strengthening Employer-Based Health Care” [Hearing held March 10, 2009, including links to testimonies]

[3/12/09]  The National Law Journal:  “San Francisco Health Care Law Survives 9th Circuit but May Face High Court

[3/12/09]  Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality:  Diabetes Cost Calculator for Employers

[3/12/09]  Wellness Council of America Special ReportFinancial Wellness: Thrifty Ideas for Turbulent Times 

[3/11/09]  Investment Company Institute:  “ICI 401(k) Participant Activity Study Shows 2008 Activity in Line with Historical Data

[3/11/09]  Pensions & Investments:  “Group Pushes for Required Contributory Plan

[3/11/09]  America’s Health Insurance Plans:  Small Group Health Insurance in 2008: A Comprehensive Survey of Premiums, Product Choices, and Benefits

[3/11/09]  Congressional Budget Office:  Options for Controlling the Cost and Increasing the Efficiency of Health Care [Testimony on March 10, 2009, before the Subcommittee on Health, Committee on Energy and Commerce, U.S. House of Representatives]

[3/10/09]  International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans:  National Employee Benefits Day, April 2, 2009 [Note: IFEBP will be offering two free video presentations on retirement security in the current economy featuring Dallas Salisbury, EBRI, and Brett Hammond, TIAA-CREF.  These will be available April 2.]

[3/10/09]  AARP Public Policy Institute Insight on the Issues:

[3/10/09]  MetLife:  The 2009 MetLife Study of the American Dream

[3/10/09]  Congressional Research Service:

[3/9/09]  Congressional Research Service:

[3/9/09]  Families USA:  Americans at Risk: One in Three Uninsured

[3/9/09]  Center for Studying Health System Change Tracking Report:  “Access to Prescription Drugs for Medicare Beneficiaries

[3/6/09]  HealthReform.gov:  Health Care for All Americans [a new website managed by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services]

[3/6/09]  Congressional Research Service:

[3/6/09]  The Wall Street Journal:  “Despite Risks, Workers Guzzle Company Stock

[3/6/09]  Wilshire Consulting:  2009 Wilshire Report on State Retirement Systems: Funding Levels and Asset Allocation

[3/5/09]  Buck Consultants FYI:  “Transportation Benefit Limit Increased by Stimulus Bill

[3/5/09]  Economic Policy Institute:  Who Is Adversely Affected by Limiting the Tax Exclusion of Employment-Based Premiums?

[3/5/09]  Kaiser Family Foundation:

[3/5/09]  AARP:  Automatic IRAs: Are They Administratively Feasible, What Are the Costs to Employers and the Federal Government, and Will They Increase Retirement Savings? [Note: A link to this March 8, 2007, report was first posted in July 2007; we are linking to it again because of a proposal for automatic IRAs included in the recently released Budget of the United States Government.]

[3/4/09]  Center for Retirement Research at Boston College:

[3/4/09]  American Benefits Council:  Defined Contribution Plans: A Successful Cornerstone of Our Nation’s Retirement System

[3/4/09]  Investment Company Institute:  Characteristics of Mutual Fund Investors, 2008

[3/4/09]  Pensions & Investments:  “Pension Liabilities to Hit Local, State Governments, Buffett Says

[3/3/09]  Hewitt Associates:  Special Report: The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and Its Impact on Employers

[3/3/09]  Business Insurance:  “IRS Rules on 401(k) Will Help Some Employers – Nondiscrimination Tests Not Required for Auto Enroll Feature

[3/3/09]  U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging:  Hearing on “Boomer Bust? Securing Retirement in a Volatile Economy” [Hearing held February 25, 2009, including links to testimonies]

[3/3/09]  National Center for Employee Ownership:  A Statistical Profile of Employee Ownership [Updated February 2009]

[3/2/09]  Institute of Medicine:  America’s Uninsured Crisis: Consequences for Health and Health Care [Report Brief]

[3/2/09]  White House Office of Management and Budget:

[3/2/09]  MetLife Mature Market Institute:  Boomer Bookends: Insights into the Oldest and Youngest Boomers

[3/2/09]  National Institute on Retirement Security:  Pensionomics: Measuring the Economic Impact of State and Local Pension Plans

[3/2/09]  Kaiser Family Foundation:

[3/2/09]  Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured:  Challenges of Providing Health Coverage for Children and Parents in a Recession: A 50 State Update on Eligibility Rules, Enrollment and Renewal Procedures, and Cost-Sharing Practices in Medicaid and SCHIP in 2009

Updated 3/31/09