What's New - November 2006

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What's new at EBRI this month:


EBRI Publishes Detailed Look at U.S. Retirement System:  With the oldest of the nation’s baby boomers turning 60 this year, the nonpartisan Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) has published an in-depth book on the U.S. retirement system and how it may change in the future.

November 2006 EBRI Issue Brief - "Employment-Based Retirement Plan Participation: Geographic Differences and Trends, 2005"

November 2006 EBRI Notes - "2006 Health Confidence Survey: Dissatisfaction With Health Care System Doubles Since 1998"


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:

Presentation by the Comptroller General
"21st Century Challenges: Retirement Insecurity" before the AICPA National Conference on Federal Taxes, in Washington, D.C. GAO-07-220CG, November 7, 2006.

Social Security Reform: Implications of Different Indexing Choices. GAO-06-804, September 14.  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.

[11/30/06] Investment Company Institute:  "Looking Back on 25 Years of Retirement Savings" by Paul Schott Stevens [as published in InvestmentNews, November 20, 2006]

[11/30/06] Chicago Tribune:  "401(k) Teaching in Workplace Must Improve"

[11/30/06] Watson Wyatt Insider:  "Age-Discrimination Claims Against Cash Balance Plans Still Have Life"

[11/30/06] Center for Retirement Research at Boston College:  "Why Do Boomers Plan to Work So Long?" [Working Paper]

[11/29/06] Kaiser Family Foundation:  National Survey of Enrollees in Consumer-Directed Health Plans

[11/29/06] Benefits & Compensation Solutions:  "Retirement Security: Is There a Path Forward?"

[11/29/06] Prudential Financial’s Pension Analyst:  "Pension Protection Act of 2006 Makes Changes to Defined Benefit Governmental and Church Plans"

[11/29/06] Prudential Financial’s Pension Analyst:  "Pension Protection Act of 2006 Makes Major Changes to Multiemployer Defined Benefit Plans"

[11/28/06] Prudential Financial’s Pension Analyst:  "Pension Protection Act of 2006 Makes Significant Changes to Single Employer Defined Benefit Plans"

[11/28/06] Aon Consulting Alert:  "Assessing the Impact of the Democratic Congressional Takeover on Employer-Sponsored Health Coverage"

[11/28/06] TIAA-CREF Institute:  The Retiree Health Care Challenge [prepared by Hewitt Associates for the TIAA-CREF Institute Symposium, Seeking Remedies to the Retiree Health Care Challenge]

[11/24/06] Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report:  "Democrats Likely to Seek Health Insurance Expansion Next Year"

[11/24/06] The Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers:  "Group Medical Plan Costs Continue Rising for All Sizes of Employers, The Council’s Survey Shows"

[11/24/06] Health Affairs:  "Status Report on Medicare Part D Enrollment in 2006: Analysis of Plan-Specific Market Share and Coverage"

[11/24/06] The Hay Group:  The Pension Protection Act of 2006: New Rules for Retirement Plans: New Plan Design Options, New Plan Requirements, New Fiduciary Protection

[11/24/06] Pension Rights Center:  Companies That Have Changed Their Defined Benefit Pension Plans

[11/24/06] Watson Wyatt Insider:  "FASB Issues Final Statement on Accounting Reform for Postretirement Benefits"

[11/17/06] Internal Revenue Service:  Retirement News for Employers [Fall 2006]

[11/17/06] Milliman’s Client Action Bulletin:  "PPA Notices Require Immediate Attention"

[11/17/06] Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation:  Payment of Premiums; Assessment of and Relief from Penalties; Final Rule [published in the Federal Register on November 17, 2006]

[11/17/06] Kaiser Family Foundation Fact Sheet:  "The Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit"

[11/16/06] Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation:

[11/16/06] Kaiser Family Foundation:  Comparison of Expenditures in Nongroup and Employer-Sponsored Insurance

[11/16/06] International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans:  2007 Directory -- Health Care Purchasing Coalitions: Multiemployer and Public Plans

[11/16/06] Social Security Administration:  Fast Facts & Figures About Social Security, 2006

[11/15/06] Hewitt Associates:  "Impact of the 2006 Elections on HR Issues"

[11/15/06] Health Affairs (via The Commonwealth Fund):  "Employers’ Views on Incremental Measures to Expand Health Coverage"

[11/15/06] America’s Health Insurance Plans:  "AHIP Announces Proposal to Expand Access to Health Insurance Coverage to Every American"

[11/15/06] Contingencies:  "Taking America’s Pulse on Health Care Reform"

[11/15/06] Aon Consulting Forum:  "Results of the 2006 On Track Retirement Study"

[11/15/06] MarketWatch:  "Pensions to Hit Balance Sheets at Year-End: New Accounting Rule to Put Funding of Retirement Plans in the Spotlight"

[11/14/06] Kaiser Family Foundation Daily Health Policy Report:  "Public Employers Must Disclose Retiree Medical Benefits Costs After Dec. 15, According to New Rule"

[11/14/06] AcademyHealth Issue Brief:  "Major Changes in Benefit Design: A Plausible Way to Control Costs?"

[11/14/06] Kaiser Family Foundation:  Benefit Design and Formularies of Medicare Drug Plans: A Comparison of 2006 and 2007 Offerings -- A First Look

[11/14/06] The Vanguard Group:  How America Saves 2006: A Report on Vanguard 2005 Defined Contribution Plan Data

[11/14/06] Putnam Investments:  Defined Contribution Default Options: A Framework for the New Environment

[11/14/06] National Conference of State Legislatures:  Pensions and Retirement Plan Enactments in 2006 State Legislatures

[11/9/06] Milliman’s Benefits Perspectives:  "Medicare Part D for Plan Sponsors: Where Have We Been, What Have We Learned, and Where Do We Go from Here?"

[11/9/06] Employee Benefit News:  "Aligning Online Personal Records with Consumer-Driven Care"

[11/9/06] The Segal Company NewsLetter:  "Communicating with Participants in a Wired World: Multiemployer Fund Web Sites"

[11/9/06] National Center for Employee Ownership:  Model ESOP

[11/8/06] Congressional Research Service:  Summary of the Pension Protection Act of 2006

[11/8/06] Galen Institute:  Health Savings Accounts: A Research Guide [a brief guide to the latest research available on consumer-directed health plans]

[11/8/06] Time Magazine:  "Pressure on Your Health Benefits"

[11/8/06] Employee Benefit News:  "Educating Workers about Delayed Retirement"

[11/7/06] U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration:  Private Pension Plan Bulletin: Abstract of 2003 Form 5500 Annual Reports

[11/7/06] Investment Company Institute Research Perspective:  "401(k) Plans: A 25-Year Retrospective"

[11/7/06] Mellon Asset Management:  Improving Pension Liability Management with Liability Benchmarks

[11/7/06] Social Security Administration:  Medicare Part B Income-Related Monthly Adjustment Amount; Final Rules [published in the Federal Register on October 27, 2006]

[11/6/06] U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:  "State and Local Government Employment Costs Up 1.4 Percent from June to September"

[11/6/06] Segal/Sibson:  2006 Rewards of Work Study

[11/6/06] Buck Consultants LegiSlate:  "PPA Technical Corrections Unlikely This Year"

[11/6/06] Investment Advisor:  "Watch Those Fees! The DOL Gets Tough on Retirement Plan Fee Disclosure"

[11/3/06] Internal Revenue Service:  Listing of Published Guidance (January 2006 - October 2006)

[11/3/06] The National Center for Employee Ownership:  Pension Protection Act Provides Easier ESOP/401(k) Safe Harbor Test [Update for November 1, 2006]

[11/3/06] Center for Retirement Research at Boston College:  Job Tenure and the Spread of 401(k)s

[11/3/06] Investment Company Institute Research Fundamentals:  "Ownership of Mutual Funds and Use of the Internet, 2006"

[11/2/06] U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:  "Compensation Costs in Private Industry Up 3.0 Percent over the Year"

[11/2/06] Internal Revenue Service:  "IRS Announces 2007 Standard Mileage Rates"

[11/2/06] Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report:  "More Companies Encourage Increased Use of Generic Medications"

[11/2/06] Knowledge@Wharton:  "Efforts Are Growing to Trim the Fat from Employees -- and Employers’ Health Care Costs"

[11/2/06] Prudential Financial’s Pension Analyst:  "Elective Deferral Limits for 2007 for Employees of Non-Profit and Governmental Employers"

[11/2/06] Boston University:  The Future of Life-Cycle Saving & Investing, a conference held Oct. 25-27, 2006, and sponsored by Boston University, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, and the Research Foundation of CFA Institute, includes links at its website to the conference agenda, papers and comments, PowerPoint presentations, and participant biographies.

[11/1/06] Aon Consulting Alert:  "Year-End Checkup for Benefit Plans"

[11/1/06] U.S. Department of Labor:  Field Assistance Bulletin No. 2006-02: Health Savings Accounts - ERISA Qs & As

[11/1/06] Council for Affordable Health Insurance:  State Health Insurance Index 2006: A 50-State Comparison of the Nation’s Health Insurance MarketMethodology.

[11/1/06] Kaiser Family Foundation:  The Role of Consumer Copayments for Health Care: Lessons from the RAND Health Insurance Experiment and Beyond [Overview]  Full Report.

[11/1/06] U.S. News & World ReportBest Health Plans 2006

[11/1/06] National Center for Policy Analysis Policy Report:  "How Generous Are Social Security and Medicare?"

Updated 11/30/06