What's New

What's New - May 2004

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As a research site, EBRI Online 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 “.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.

What's new at EBRI this month:


May 2004 EBRI Issue Brief - "ERISA At 30: The Decline of Private-Sector Defined Benefit Promises and Annuity Payments? What Will It Mean?"

May 2004 EBRI Notes - "Medicare Program Takes on More Income-Related Features" and "Retirement Accounts and Wealth, 2001"

From the EBRI-ERF Retirement Security Projection Model: “Can America Afford Tomorrow’s Retirees:" If current patterns continue, there will be an annual shortfall of at least $45 billion by 2030 between the amount retired Americans need to cover basic expenses and what they have.   A new study by the Employee Benefit Research Institute in collaboration with the Milbank Memorial Fund suggests that while many middle-income Americans could provide for their own future by saving 5 percent of compensation annually in addition to the retirement benefits they are already expected to receive, this remedy won’t work for many in the lower income brackets.  Results of the study were published as the November 2003 EBRI Issue Brief.

Press Release    Full Text of the November 2003 Issue Brief      Executive Summary

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:

Private Health Insurance: Employers and Individuals Are Vulnerable to Bogus or Unauthorized Entities Selling Coverage.   GAO-04-312, February 27, 2004.  Highlights

Private Pensions: Multiemployer Pension Plans Face Key Challenges to Their Long-Term Prospects, by Barbara D. Bovbjerg, director, education, workforce, and income security issues, before the Subcommittee on Employee-Employer Relations, House Committee on Education and the Workforce.  GAO-04-542T, March 18, 2004 / 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.

[5/27/04]  Hewitt Associates:  Hewitt Study Shows U.S. Employees Sluggish in Interacting with 401(k) Plans: Research Shows Poor 401(k) Saving and Investing Habits Despite Improved Economy

[5/27/04]  Urban Institute:  Changes in Insured Coverage and Access to Care for Middle-Class Americans, 1999-2002

[5/27/04]  Urban Institute:  Work, Offers, and Take-Up: Decomposing the Source of Recent Declines in Employer-Sponsored Insurance

[5/27/04]  John Hancock Financial Services Survey:  For Most Americans, Early Retirement Dreams Evaporating

[5/24/04]  Financial Accounting Standards Board:  Accounting and Disclosure Requirements Related to the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003 [FASB Staff Position No. FAS 106-2]

[5/24/04]  Mellon’s Human Resources & Investor Solutions:  For Your Information: Pension Funding Equity Act of 2004

[5/24/04]  AARP Public Policy Institute:  How Will Boomers Fare at Retirement?

[5/24/04]  Urban Institute:  Changing Options for Insurance Coverage: How Does the Future Look for Low- and Middle-Income Workers if Employer Sponsored Coverage Is Not an Option?

[5/24/04]  Urban Institute:  Labor Force Status and Insurance Coverage, 1999 and 2002

[5/24/04]  Merrill Lynch:  2004 Retirement Survey

[5/24/04]  Congressional Budget Office:  Retirement Age and the Need for Saving

[5/24/04]  Investment Company Institute:  2004 Mutual Fund Fact Book

[5/20/04]  U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:  National Compensation Survey: Employee Benefits in Private Industry in the United States, March 2003

[5/20/04]  Internal Revenue Service:  Health Savings Accounts -- Interaction with Other Health Arrangements [Rev. Rul. 2004-45]

[5/20/04]  Business Insurance:  “Treasury Issues HSA/FSA Interplay Guidance

[5/20/04]  Association of Health Insurance Advisors:  Health Accounts Comparison [HSAs, FSAs, HRAs, MSAs]

[5/20/04]  Aon Consulting:  Aon Spring 2004 Health Care Trend Survey

[5/20/04]  Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:  Proposal for New HSA Tax Deduction Found Likely to Increase the Ranks of the Uninsured

[5/20/04]  U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:  Medicare-Approved Drug Discount Card Savings Now Available

[5/20/04]  Milliman USA:  Pension Fund Survey

[5/20/04]  Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation:  Pension Insurance Data Book 2003

[5/20/04]  Internal Revenue Service:  Retirement News for Employers [premiere edition]

[5/20/04]  U.S. Senate Committee on Finance:  National Employee Savings and Trust Equity Guarantee (NESTEG) Act

[5/20/04]  U.S. Department of Labor:  U.S. Labor Department Launches National Education Campaign “Getting It Right--Know Your Fiduciary Responsibilities”

[5/20/04]   Institute for Women’s Policy Research:   No Time to be Sick: Why Everyone Suffers When Workers Don’t Have Paid Sick Leave

[5/20/04]   Workers Compensation Research Institute:  The Future of Workers’ Compensation: Opportunities and Challenges [Note: Click on What's New]

[5/4/04]  Kaiser Family Foundation:  Trends and Indicators in the Changing Health Care Marketplace, 2004 Update

[5/4/04]  Aon Consulting:  Aon Forecast: Rise in Medical Plan Trend Rates to Taper Off Slightly, but Double-digit Increases Will Continue in 2004

[5/4/04]  U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means:  2004 “Green Book” Released: Ways and Means Publication Provides In-Depth Data on Federal Programs and Recipients2004 Green Book.

[5/4/04]  U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce, Subcommittee on Employer-Employee Relations:  Hearing on “Examining Long-Term Solutions to Reform and Strengthen the Defined Benefit Pension System.”   Witness List and TestimoniesPress Release.

[5/4/04]  U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission:  EEOC Approves Proposal to Exempt Retiree Health Plans from Age Discrimination in Employment Act

[5/4/04]  American Benefits Council:  Questions and Answers Regarding the EEOC’s Rule on Retiree Health Coverage and Medicare

[5/4/04]  U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration:  Health Saving Account [Field Assistance Bulletin 2004-1]

[5/4/04]  Internal Revenue Service:  Health Savings Accounts--Transition Relief [Internal Revenue Bulletin 2004-15, April 12, 2004, Notice 2004-25]

[5/4/04]  National Conference of State Legislatures:  2004 Prescription Drug State Legislation

[5/4/04]  Health Affairs:  “U.S. Health Care Spending in an International Context

[5/3/04]  U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:  Employment Cost Index--March 2004

[5/3/04]  H.R.3108, Pension Funding Equity Act of 2004:   Signed into law by President Bush on April 10, 2004, becoming Public Law 108-218.   Bill Summary & Status Information

[5/3/04]  FreeERISA.com:   Form 5500 database has been updated with plan year 2002 filings from the U.S. Department of Labor.

[5/3/04]  Congressional Budget Office:  Would Prescription Drug Importation Reduce U.S. Drug Spending?

[5/3/04]  The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College:   Lifetime Earnings, Social Security Benefits, and the Adequacy of Retirement Wealth Accumulation

[5/3/04]  The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College:   Valuing Assets in Retirement Savings Accounts

[5/3/04]  National Conference of State Legislatures’ Health Policy Tracking Service:  State Health Care Policy: First Quarter of 2004


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Updated 5/27/04