What's New - March 2011

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As a research site, EBRI.org maintains old listings in the “What’s New” page, even though some of the older links may no longer function.  If you reach a bad link, go back to the main site by deleting everything after “.com” or “.org” or ".gov" or “.net” in the address. Since we maintain www.ebri.org/ as a research and education resource, and not current news, we hope you will understand our policy and the use for which it is maintained.  We apologize for any inconvenience.


What's new at EBRI this month:

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


March 2011 EBRI Issue Brief - "The 2011 Retirement Confidence Survey: Confidence Drops to Record Lows, Reflecting 'the New Normal'"

March 2011 EBRI Notes - "The Impact of Modifying the Exclusion of Employee Contributions for Retirement Savings Plans From Taxable Income: Results from the 2011 Retirement Confidence Survey" and "Employer and Worker Contributions to Account-Based Health Plans, 2006-2010"



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:

Key Events Leading to the Termination of the Delphi Defined Benefit Plans.  GAO-11-373R, March 30.

Private Health Insurance Coverage:  Expert Views on Approaches to Encourage Voluntary Enrollment.  GAO-11-392R, February 25.

The Federal Government's Long-Term Fiscal Outlook:  January 2011 Update.  GAO-11-451SP, March 18.

Private Health Insurance:  Data on Application and Coverage Denials.  GAO-11-268, March 16. Highlights.

401(k) Plans:  Certain Investment Options and Practices That May Restrict Withdrawals Not Widely Understood.  GAO-11-291, March 10. Highlights.

401(k) Plans:  Improved Regulation Could Better Protect Participants from Conflicts of Interest. GAO-11-119, January 28. Highlights.

Defined Contribution Plans:  Key Information on Target Date Funds as Default Investments Should Be Provided to Plan Sponsors and Participants.  GAO-11-118, January 31. Highlights.

401(k) Plans:  Issues Involving Securities Lending in Plan Investments, by Charles A. Jeszeck, acting director, education, workforce, and income security, before the Senate Special Committee on Aging.  GAO-11-359T, March 16. 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.

[3/31/11]  House Energy and Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Health:  Hearing on “True Cost of PPACA: Effects on the Budget and Jobs” [Hearing held March 30, 2011, includes links to statements and testimonies]

[3/31/11]  Business Insurance:  “IRS Delays Smaller Employer Deadline to Report Insurance Costs on W-2s

[3/31/11]  Internal Revenue Service:  Interim Guidance on Informational Reporting to Employees of the Cost of Their Group Health Insurance Coverage [Notice 2011-28]

[3/31/11]  U.S. Department of Labor:  Report to Congress: Annual Report on Self-Insured Group Health Plans

[3/31/11]  Kaiser Health News:  “High-Deductible Health Plans: When Spending Less on Health Care Isn’t Always Good News

[3/31/11]  HR Policy Association:  Text of Letter to Governors from HR Policy Association Re Health Insurance Exchanges [Concerns of Multistate Employers Relating to Health Insurance Exchanges Established Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act]

[3/31/11]  National Council on Teacher Retirement Federal E-News:  “New Public Pension Reporting Legislation Introduced in House, Senate

[3/31/11]  PIMCO DC Dialogue™:  “A Face, Not an Interface” [“In this PIMCO DC Dialogue, we talk with financial advisor Mark A. Davis about defined contribution plan design and issues, with a focus on mid-sized plans.”]

[3/30/11]  National Association of Government Defined Contribution Administrators:  2011 Survey of Defined Contribution Plans

[3/30/11]  Center for Retirement Research at Boston College:  Can State and Local Pensions Muddle Through?

[3/30/11]  National Center for Policy Analysis Brief Analysis:  “Mattress Investing Revisited

[3/30/11]  USA Today:  “Tips for Dealing with Mandatory IRA Distributions

[3/30/11]  U.S. Department of the Treasury Resource Center:  HSA - Health Savings Accounts -- [Redesigned Webpage]

[3/30/11]  Consumers Union:  The Affordable Care Act: The First Year -- Discover What the New Law Means for You and Your Family

[3/29/11]  Russell Investments:  Going Long: Should the DC Industry Reconsider Participants’ Bond Portfolios?

[3/29/11]  MetLife:  9th Annual Study of Employee Benefits Trends

[3/29/11]  U.S. News & World Report:  “Baby Boomers Reveal Biggest Retirement Fears

[3/29/11]  CQ Roll Call Group:

[3/29/11]  Kaiser Family Foundation:  Raising the Age of Medicare Eligibility: A Fresh Look Following Implementation of Health Reform

[3/29/11]  The Washington Post:  “The Pro-Social Security Case for Social Security Reform

[3/28/11]  International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans:  Celebrate National Employee Benefits Day on April 4, 2011! – “National Employee Benefits Day acknowledges trustees, administrators, corporate benefits practitioners and professional advisors for their dedication to providing quality benefits and the important role they plan in their colleagues’ well-being.  This year Benefits Day has a special focus on communicating employee benefits.  The National Employee Benefits Day Web site is full of resources to help you plan for the day.”

[3/28/11]  Associated Press (via Houston Chronicle):  “New Site Lets Employers Put Health Care Out to Bid

[3/28/11]  ICI Research Perspective:  “Who Gets Retirement Plans and Why: An Update

[3/28/11]  Sibson Consulting Spotlight™:  “Is It Time to Reconsider Cash Balance Plans?

[3/28/11]  Towers Watson Insider:  “Funded Status of Fortune 1000 DB Plans Improves Slightly in 2010

[3/25/11]  Internal Revenue Service:  Employee Plans News [March 23, 2011]

[3/25/11]  Employee Benefit Adviser:

[3/25/11]  The New England Journal of Medicine:  “Tapping the Unmet Potential of Health Information Technology” [Perspective]

[3/25/11]  The Washington Post:

[3/25/11]  Federal Reserve Board:  Surveying the Aftermath of the Storm: Changes in Family Finances from 2007 to 2009

[3/24/11]  401khelpcenter.com (Guest Article):  “The Impact Financial Education Has on Plan Participant Saving and Investing Behavior

[3/24/11]  SmartMoney.com:  “3 Strategies for Survival in Retirement

[3/24/11]  Prudential:  The Four Pillars and Public Policy: Prudential’s Positions on Legislative and Regulatory Issues Impacting Retirement Security in America

[3/24/11]  Wellness Council of America:  Worksite Wellness Evaluation

[3/23/11]  The New York Times:  “Polls Highlight Split on Health Care Law

[3/23/11]  Deloitte:  The Hidden Costs of U.S. Health Care for Consumers: A Comprehensive Analysis [This webpage includes links to an executive summary, methodology, study highlights, and key implications.]

[3/23/11]  Kaiser Family Foundation:  A Profile of Health Insurance Exchange Enrollees

[3/23/11]  Plan Sponsor:  “High Court Lets Stand Monsanto Cash Balance Ruling

[3/22/11]  The Vanguard Group:  The Great Recession and 401(k) Plan Participant Behavior

[3/22/11]  Marketplace:  “Confidence about Retirement Security Low

[3/22/11]  Palm Beach Post:  “Savings Time: More Americans Plan to Salt Away Tax Refunds

[3/22/11]  Prudential Insurance Company of America:  Long-Term Care Insurance: A Piece of the Retirement & Estate Planning Puzzle

[3/22/11]  National Conference of State Legislatures:  Federal Health Reform: State Legislative Tracking Database

[3/22/11]  Employee Benefit News:  “CEO Buy-In on Wellness Programs Improves

[3/21/11]  U. S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration:  Extension of Non-Enforcement Period Relating to Certain Interim Procedures for Internal Claims and Appeals under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act [Technical Release No. 2011-01]

[3/21/11]  Kaiser Family Foundation:  Kaiser Health Tracking Poll -- March 2011

[3/21/11]  Willis North America:  The Willis Health and Productivity Survey, 2010

[3/21/11]  Reish & Reicher Bulletin:  “401(k) Account Balances as Monthly Retirement Income

[3/21/11]  The Washington Post:  “Poll Finds Growing Public Worry About Social Security

[3/21/11]  The New York Times:  “The Dilemmas of Entitlement Reform” [Opinion]

[3/18/11]  ACS/BNY Mellon HSA Solution:  It’s Tax Time! - 2010 Tax Year:

[3/18/11]  H.R. 1004 (via American Benefits Council):  “To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to increase participation in medical flexible spending arrangements” [short title: “Medical FSA Improvement Act of 2011”]

[3/18/11]  Employee Benefit Adviser:  “Proposed FSA Tweak Doesn’t Go Far Enough, Critics Say

[3/18/11]  Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions:  Hearing on “Health Insurance Exchanges and Ongoing State Implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” [Hearing held March 17, 2011, includes links to testimonies]

[3/18/11]  ABC News:  “Record Pessimism About Retirement -- New Survey Shows Fewer Americans Believe They Will Be Able to Afford Retirement

[3/18/11]  House Budget Committee:  Hearing on “Fulfilling the Mission of Health and Retirement Security” [Hearing held March 17, 2011, includes links to testimonies]

[3/17/11]  Senate Committee on Finance:  Hearing on “Health Reform: Lessons Learned During the First Year” [Hearing held March 16, 2011, includes links to statements and testimonies]

[3/17/11]  The Commonwealth Fund:  The Commonwealth Fund 2010 Biennial Health Insurance Survey

[3/17/11]  Towers Watson Insider:  “Funding Obligations for Single-Employer DB Pension Plans: Updated Projections for 2011-2014

[3/17/11]  The Washington Post:  “42% Guessing How Much Money They’ll Need in Retirement

[3/16/11]  Employee Benefit News:  “SHRM Poll: Employers Continue to Reduce Benefits

[3/16/11]  MarketWatch:  “Retirement Savers’ Confidence Plummets

[3/16/11]  Grant Thornton:  Trends and Insights: Focusing on the Fiduciary Agenda -- Retirement Plan Survey 2011

[3/16/11]  Joint Committee on Taxation:  General Explanation of Tax Legislation Enacted in the 111th Congress

[3/15/11]  U.S. Department of Labor:  Invitation to Public Forum on Automatic Enrollment in Large Employer Health Plans, April 8, 2011, 1:00PM - 5:00PM

[3/15/11]  Bloomberg:  “Worker Confidence on Having Enough Money for Retirement Hits 20-Year Low

[3/15/11]  Employee Benefit Adviser:  “Broadened Fiduciary Definition Could Have Chilling Effect

[3/15/11]  The SPARK Institute, Inc.:  Best Practices for 403(b) and Related Retirement Plans Information Sharing - Minimum and Comprehensive Data Elements [Version 1.04]

[3/14/11]  U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:  State and Local Government Employee Benefits, March 2010

[3/14/11]  Memphis Commercial Appeal:  “Stock Gains Lift U.S. Household Wealth

[3/14/11]  TIAA-CREF Institute Research Dialogue:  “Pensions and Public School Teacher Retirement: An Analysis Using National Teacher Data

[3/14/11]  Health Affairs Health Policy Brief:  “Employers and Health Care Reform - The Affordable Care Act will assess taxes on companies that fail to offer their employees health coverage.”

[3/11/11]  CNNMoney.com:  “Health Care Coverage: Big Changes in 2012

[3/11/11]  Towers Watson and National Business Group on Health:  The Road Ahead: Shaping Health Care Strategy in a Post-Reform Environment -- 16th Annual Towers Watson/National Business Group on Health Employer Survey on Purchasing Value in Health Care

[3/11/11]  House Committee on Education & the Workforce Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions:  Hearing on “The Pressures of Rising Costs on Employer Provided Health Care” [Hearing held March 10, 2011, includes links to testimonies]

[3/11/11]  Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Urban Institute:  Health Reform Across the States: Increased Insurance Coverage and Federal Spending on the Exchanges and Medicaid

[3/11/11]  The New York Times:  “The Burden of Pensions on States

[3/11/11]  Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation:  Benefits Payable in Terminated Single-Employer Plans; Limitations on Guaranteed Benefits; Proposed rule [as published in the Federal Register on March 11, 2011]

[3/10/11]  Principal Financial Group:  “The Principal Financial Well-Being Index survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of the Principal Financial Group® between January 26th and February 4th, 2011 among 1,127 employees and 520 retirees. 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.”

[3/10/11]  Richmond Times-Dispatch:  “Talking Money” [on the impact of job change on benefits]

[3/10/11]  Towers Watson Insider:  “DB Versus DC Plan Investment Returns: The 2008-2009 Update

[3/10/11]  Health Affairs:  “The Benefits of Health Information Technology: A Review of the Recent Literature Shows Predominantly Positive Results

[3/10/11]  TIAA-CREF Institute Policy Brief:  “Misconceptions About Health Insurance Markets and Health Reform

[3/9/11]  Investment News:  “Sen. Harkin: New Retirement Scheme Hinges on Advisers - Influential Lawmaker Envisions Provident Fund Supplanting 401(k)s

[3/9/11]  National Institute on Retirement Security:  Pensions and Retirement Security 2011: A Roadmap for Policy Makers

[3/9/11]  The Vanguard Group:  “Vanguard Study Looks at Ways to Spend Retirement Savings

[3/9/11]  Center for Retirement Research at Boston College:  The Impact of Pensions on State Borrowing Costs

[3/9/11]  PricewaterhouseCoopers HRS Insight:  “Pension/OPEB Accounting - Understanding Changes Expected from the IASB

[3/9/11]  Administration on Aging:  Frequently Asked Questions about CLASS and Long Term Care

[3/8/11]  Milliman, Inc.:  Monthly Benefit News and Developments [March 2011]

[3/8/11]  Towers Watson Insider:  “President’s FY2012 Budget Proposal Includes Retirement, Health and Compensation Recommendations

[3/8/11]  Bureau of Labor Statistics Program PerspectivesSick Leave and Disability Benefit Combinations: “Coverage Options for Illness and Injury”

[3/8/11]  Plan Sponsor:  “How Is State Tax Applied to Coverage for Adult Children Under the PPACA?

[3/8/11]  Kaiser Family Foundation:  Medicare Spending and Financing: A Primer [February 2011]

[3/8/11]  PIMCO DC Practice:  Survey Highlights: 5th Annual Defined Contribution Consulting Support and Trends Survey

[3/7/11]  The New York Times:  “Are State and Local Government Employees Paid Too Much?

[3/7/11]  The Vanguard Group:  Target-Date Fund Adoption in 2010

[3/7/11]  National Institute on Retirement Security Issue Brief:  “Who Killed the Private-Sector DB Plan?

[3/7/11]  The MetLife Mature Market Institute® and Scripps Gerontology Center:  Best-Case Strategies for a Flexible Retirement: The MetLife Study of Thinking About Retirement in Uncertain Times

[3/7/11]  SmartMoney.com:  “Should You Take Social Security Early?

[3/7/11]  CQ Roll Call Group:  “Five States Move Ahead on Health

[3/4/11]  Towers Watson Insider:  “Benefits Issues to Watch in 112th Congress

[3/4/11]  The New York Times:

[3/4/11]  CCH Employee Benefits Management (via Sibson Consulting):  “Expert Reviews Health Care Reform Law Implementation, Previews 2011 Developments

[3/4/11]  Aon Hewitt:  2011 Hot Topics in Retirement: A Changing Horizon

[3/4/11]  Employee Benefit News:  “Linking 401(k) Participation to Open Enrollment

[3/4/11]  Harvard Business Review Analytic Services and Unum:  Who Will Build Your Future? The New Employee Relationship

[3/3/11]  U.S. Department of Health & Human Services:  Report on Implementation and Operation of the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program During Calendar Year 2010

[3/3/11]  National Pharmaceutical Council:  Synergies at Work: Realizing the Full Value of Health Investment

[3/3/11]  The New York Times:

[3/3/11]  Center for Retirement Research at Boston College and Center for State and Local Government Excellence:  Public Plans Database [“The PPD contains comprehensive financial, governance, and plan design information for 126 state and local defined benefit plans, along with additional data on state defined contribution plans.”]

[3/3/11]  American Academy of Actuaries:  Public Pension Plans Actuarial E-Guide [This website includes links to a variety of resources pertaining to public-sector retirement plans.]

[3/3/11]  MetLife:  MetLife U.S. Pension Risk Behavior Index: Third Annual Study of Risk Management Attitudes and Aptitude Among Defined Benefit Pension Plan Sponsors

[3/2/11]  Human Resource Executive Online:  “Wellness Incentives on the Rise

[3/2/11]  Sibson Consulting:  Results from Sibson’s Healthy Enterprise Study

[3/2/11]  U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration:  Definition of the Term “Fiduciary” Proposed Rule -- Written Requests to Testify at Public Hearing and Public Comments

[3/2/11]  The Vanguard Group:  Survey of Defined Benefit Plan Sponsors, 2010

[3/2/11]  Society of Actuaries:  2009 Risks and Process of Retirement Survey Report

[3/2/11]  Bankers Life and Casualty Company Center for a Secure Retirement:  Middle-Income Retirement Preparedness Study

[3/2/11]  Center for Retirement Research at Boston College:  How Can Customized Information Change Financial Plans?

[3/2/11]  CQ Roll Call Group:  “Congress Q&A: Social Security

[3/1/11]  The New York Times:

[3/1/11]  National Conference of State Legislatures:  2011 State Pension Reform Proposals

[3/1/11]  The Los Angeles Times [Blog]:  “Be Careful of 401(k) ‘Education’

[3/1/11]  The Vanguard Group:  “Roth 401(k) Plans Appear Poised for Growth

[3/1/11]  Urban Institute:  Retirement Account Balances (Updated 2/11) – Accumulations in Retirement Accounts, 2006 to 2010

[3/1/11]  Employee Benefit News:  “Foreseeing the Future of Voluntary Benefits in a Recovering Economy

Updated 3/31/11