What's New - May 2006

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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 ".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:

AARP and EBRI Conference:  The Employment-Based Pension System: Evolution or Revolution?  -- Monday, May 15, 2006, Washington, DC -- For further information, click here.


May 2006 EBRI Issue Brief - "Individual Account Retirement Plans: An Analysis of the 2004 Survey of Consumer Finances"

May 2006 EBRI Notes - "The Impact of Hours of Work on Employment-Based Health Benefits"


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:

Private Pensions: Opportunities Exist to Further Improve the Transparency of PBGC's Financial Disclosures. GAO-06-429, March 27.  Highlights.

Budget Process: Better Transparency, Controls, Triggers, and Default Mechanisms Would Help to Address Our Large and Growing Long-Term Fiscal Challenge, by David M. Walker, comptroller general of the United States, before the Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, and International Security, Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. GAO-06-761T, May 25.  Highlights.

National Saving: Current Saving Decisions Have Profound Implications for Our Nation's Future Well-Being, by Thomas J. McCool, director, Center for Economics, before the Senate Committee on Finance. GAO-06-628T, April 6.  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.

[5/30/06] Watson Wyatt Insider:  "Congress Misses Memorial Day Deadline; Pension Reform Possible in June"

[5/30/06] Congressional Research Service:  Retirement Savings and Household Wealth: Trends from 2001 to 2004

[5/30/06] University of Michigan Retirement Research Center:  Savings, Portfolio Choice, and Retirement Expectations [Working Paper]

[5/30/06] Center for American Progress:  Future Retirement Income Security Needs Defined Benefit Pensions

[5/26/06] Employee Benefit News:  "Next Steps for Plan Sponsors Contemplating Medicare Part D"

[5/26/06] Council for Affordable Health Insurance:  Massachusetts’ Health Care Reform Plan: Too Many Sticks; Not Enough Carrots

[5/26/06] University of Michigan Retirement Research Center:  The Impact of Misperceptions about Social Security on Saving and Well-being

[5/26/06] Department for Work and Pensions [U.K.]:  Security in Retirement: Towards a New Pensions System [White Paper]

[5/24/06] Milliman’s Client Action Bulletin:  "IRS Revises Its Corrections Programs for Retirement Plans"

[5/24/06] U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs:  Hearing on "Improving Financial Literacy in the United States" [Includes links to testimonies]

[5/24/06] Towers Perrin Perspectives:  "Employers Are Creating a 'Culture of Health' to Balance Cost and Talent"

[5/24/06] Benefits & Compensation Digest:  "Health Insurance Premium Audits: A Cost-Cutting Solution"

[5/23/06] Business Insurance:  "Bill Would Require Senate Approval of PBGC Head"

[5/23/06] Benefits & Compensation Solutions:  "Maximizing Retirement Efforts"

[5/23/06] HR Policy Association Policy Brief:  "Combined Retirement Income/Retiree Health Account Would Simplify Employees’ Ability to Save for Both Needs in a Single Vehicle"

[5/23/06] Pensions Policy Institute:  Transition Trade-Offs: Options for State Pension Reform [U.K.]

[5/19/06] Merrill Lynch:  Survey Findings: 2006 Merrill Lynch New Retirement Study

[5/19/06] The Segal Company Bulletin:  "FASB Issues Exposure Draft on Changes to Accounting for Pension and Other Postretirement Benefit Plans"

[5/19/06] The Commonwealth Fund In the Literature:  "Health Care Spending and Use of Information Technology in OECD Countries"

[5/19/06] BenefitNews.com:  "Data Continues to Show Cost-Cutting Promise of HSAs"

[5/18/06] Hewitt Associates:  2006 Health Care Expectations Survey -- Executive Summary

[5/18/06] The Segal Company Capital Checkup:  "CMS Describes Payment Process for Medicare Part D Retiree Drug Subsidy"

[5/18/06] The Segal Company Capital Checkup:  "COBRA and the Medicare Part D Retiree Drug Subsidy"

[5/18/06] Business Insurance:  "Court Rules FMLA, Sick Leaves Can Be Concurrent"

[5/18/06] Monthly Review:  "The End of Retirement," by Teresa Ghilarducci

[5/18/06] University of Michigan Retirement Research Center:  Social Security Replacement Rates for Alternative Earnings Benchmarks [Working Paper]

[5/17/06] PBS Frontline:  "Can You Afford to Retire?" [Includes links to related materials about this PBS special which aired May 16, 2006]

[5/17/06] Hewitt Associates:  "Hewitt Study: Company Efforts Positively Impact U.S. Employees’ 401(k) Saving Habits"

[5/17/06] Buck Consultants FYI:  "DOL Issues Final Rules Allowing Entities Other Than Plan Sponsors to Terminate Abandoned DC Plans"

[5/17/06] Business Insurance: "Health Care Education Lacking at Work: Study"

[5/17/06] The Segal Company Bulletin:  "CMS Revises Creditable Coverage Guidance and Issues New Model Notices"

[5/15/06] Business Insurance:  "Senate Kills Small Business Health Plan Bill"

[5/15/06] American Academy of Actuaries Issue Brief:  "An Actuarial Perspective on the 2006 Social Security Trustees’ Report"

[5/12/06] Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:  Provision in Tax-Cut Bill Effectively Eliminates Income Limits on Roth IRAs

[5/12/06] Business & Legal Reports:  "Employee Health Benefit Plans Are Fertile Ground for Regulatory Activity"

[5/12/06] Congressional Research Service:  Health Savings Accounts: Some Current Policy Issues

[5/12/06] American Academy of Actuaries Issue Brief:  "Medicare’s Financial Condition: Beyond Actuarial Balance"

[5/11/06] Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate:  S.1955, Health Insurance Marketplace Modernization and Affordability Act of 2006

[5/11/06] Investment Company Institute:  "ICI Reports That Americans Own a Record $14.3 Trillion in Retirement Assets"

[5/11/06] U.S. Senate Committee on Finance:  Conference Report on H.R.4297, the Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act of 2005

[5/11/06] U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means:  H.R.4297, the Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act of 2005 -- Detailed Summary of Conference Report

[5/9/06] U.S. Internal Revenue Service:  Correcting Plan Errors

[5/9/06] U.S. Senate, Republican Policy Committee:  Health Savings Accounts: Defying Critics’ Dire Expectations

[5/9/06] Great-West Healthcare:  Consumer Attitudes Toward Health Care: Survey Results

[5/9/06] Business & Legal Reports:  "Financial Incentives for Wellness: Showing Everyone the Money!"

[5/8/06] Congressional Research Service:  The Structure of Social Security Individual Account Contributions and Investments: Choices and Implications

[5/8/06] U.S. Chamber of Commerce:  Work, Entrepreneurship, and Opportunity in 21st Century America

[5/5/06] Office of U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor:  "Cantor Introduces Tax-Free Health Savings Act"

[5/5/06] Robert Wood Johnson Foundation:  Shifting Ground: Changes in Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance

[5/5/06] Benefits & Compensation Digest:  "Data Mining-Driven ROI: Health Care Cost Management"

[5/5/06] AARP Data Digest:  "Update on the Aged 55+ Worker: 2005"

[5/4/06] National Conference of State Legislatures:  Pensions and Retirement Plan Enactments in 2005 State Legislatures

[5/4/06] Watson Wyatt Worldwide:  "Watson Wyatt Urges Congressional Action, Deliberate Employer Response to Pension Trends"

[5/4/06] Employee Benefit News:  "Employers Continue Riding the Wave of Domestic Partner Benefits"

[5/4/06] Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:  What the New Trustees’ Report Shows About Social Security

[5/3/06] Kaiser Family Foundation:  Snapshots: Health Care Costs

[5/3/06] The Segal Company:  "The Movement from DB to DC Plans: Will Congressional Action on Cash Balance Plans Provide a Truly Viable Alternative?"

[5/3/06] Wilshire Consulting:  2006 Wilshire Report on State Retirement Systems: Funding Levels and Asset Allocation

[5/3/06] Center for Retirement Research at Boston College:  "Social Security’s Financial Outlook: The 2006 Update in Perspective"

[5/2/06] Social Security and Medicare Boards of Trustees:  Status of the Social Security and Medicare Programs: A Summary of the 2006 Annual Social Security and Medicare Trust Fund Reports

[5/2/06] Social Security Administration:  2006 Annual Report of the Board of Trustees of the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Federal Disability Insurance Trust FundsReport PDF.

[5/2/06] Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services:  2006 Annual Report of the Boards of Trustees of the Federal Hospital Insurance and Federal Supplementary Medical Insurance Trust Funds

[5/1/06] Robert Wood Johnson Foundation:  Cover the Uninsured Week, May 1-7, 2006

[5/1/06] Managed Care Magazine:  "A Conversation with Paul Fronstin, PhD: Current Crop of Consumer-Directed Plans More ‘Lite’ Than ‘Heavy’"

[5/1/06] AISHealth.com:  "Health Plans Design Prescription Drug Plans Tailored to 2007 Retiree Benefits" [reprinted from the March 20, 2006, issue of Managed Care Week]

[5/1/06] Alliance for Health Reform:  Health Care Coverage in America: Understanding the Issues and Proposed Solutions [updated March 2006]

[5/1/06] U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics:  Access to Defined Contribution Retirement Plans among Workers in Private Industry, 2005

[5/1/06] U.S. Internal Revenue Service:  Employee Plans News [Volume 5/Winter 2006]

Updated 5/30/06