What's New - November 2010

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What's new at EBRI this month:

New EBRI Blog Is Now Live! [March 23, 2010]

“EBRI Now on Twitter” [EBRI Press Release, 2/6/09]

401(k) Balances and Changes Due to Market Volatility


November 2010 EBRI Issue Brief - "401(k) Plan Asset Allocation, Account Balances, and Loan Activity in 2009"

November 2010 EBRI Issue Brief - "The Impact of Auto-enrollment and Automatic Contribution Escalation on Retirement Income Adequacy"

November 2010 EBRI Notes - "Retirement Plan Participation: Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) Data, 2009" and "Variation in Public Opinion About Health Reform, by Plan Type: Findings from the 2010 EBRI/MGA Consumer Engagement in Health Care Survey"


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:

Social Security Reform:  Raising the Retirement Ages Would Have Implications for Older Workers and SSA Disability Rolls.  GAO-11-125, November 18.

Private Pensions:  Changes Needed to Better Protect Multiemployer Pension Benefits.  GAO-11-79, October 18. Highlights.

Health Care Delivery:  Features of Integrated Systems Support Patient Care Strategies and Access to Care, but Systems Face Challenges. GAO-11-49, November 16. Highlights.

The Federal Government's Long-Term Fiscal Outlook:  Fall 2010 Update.  GAO-11-201SP, November 15. Highlights. Podcast.



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.

[11/30/10]  U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration:  Target Date Disclosure; Proposed regulation [as published in the Federal Register on Nov. 30, 2010]

[11/30/10]  Internal Revenue Service:  Employee Plans News [Nov. 26, 2010]

[11/30/10]  Pensions & Investments:  “Think Tank Wants to Cut Tax-Deferred Plan Contributions

[11/30/10]  The New York Times:

[11/30/10]  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:  “Vital Signs: Health Insurance Coverage and Health Care Utilization -- United States, 2006-2009 and January-March 2010

[11/30/10]  The Washington Post:  “Value-based Insurance Design’s Pros and Cons

[11/29/10]  The Washington Post:  “Tax Break for Employer Health Plans a Target Again

[11/29/10]  Internal Revenue Service:

[11/29/10]  Center for State & Local Government Excellence:  Pension Reforms: “The Center is collecting best practices, principles, and lessons learned from state and local pension plan changes that have been negotiated over the past 10 years.  Use this interactive map to find examples of state and local governments that have negotiated changes, many with links to more information.”    

[11/29/10]  Employee Benefit News:  “It’s Time to Focus on What Really Drives 401(k) Success

[11/29/10]  Aon Hewitt:  IRS Releases Proposed Cash Balance Plan Regulations Allowing Equity-Based Rates of Return

[11/29/10]  The Seattle Times:  “Fixing Social Security Could Be Painless, Given Enough Time

[11/24/10]  Internal Revenue Service:

[11/24/10]  PIMCO DC Dialogue™:  “Happy with Less” [“In this PIMCO DC Dialogue, we talk with UCLA Professor Shlomo Benartzi about how behavioral economics - including automatic enrollment and contribution escalation - has improved savings in defined contribution plans.”]

[11/24/10]  Pensions & Investments:  “401(k) Accounts Gained in 2009, Report Shows

[11/24/10]  National Institute on Retirement Security:  “Raise the Retirement Bar, Not the Age?

[11/24/10]  Council for Affordable Health Insurance Policy Trends:  “Trends in State Mandated Benefits, 2010

[11/24/10]  American Medical News:  “IOM Takes First Step in Defining Essential Health Benefits

[11/23/10]  Bloomberg:  “Account Balances for 401(k) Saving Plans in U.S. Increase 32%, EBRI Says

[11/23/10]  Milliman’s Client Action Bulletin:  “Year-End Compliance Issues for Single-Employer Retirement Plan Sponsors

[11/23/10]  Financial Finesse, Inc.:  Financial Finesse Reports: Research on Financial Trends - Q3 2010 Research

[11/23/10]  Society for Human Resource Management and National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities:  Who Benefits from Section 127? A Study of Employee Education Assistance Provided Under Section 127 of the Internal Revenue Code

[11/23/10]  Harvard Business Review:  “What’s the Hard Return on Employee Wellness Programs?

[11/22/10]  U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:  “New Affordable Care Act Rules Give Consumers Better Value for Insurance Premiums” [News Release]

[11/22/10]  The Washington Post:  “Health Plans Must Spend Premiums on Medical Care

[11/22/10]  The Commonwealth Fund:  How Health Insurance Design Affects Access to Care and Costs, by Income, in Eleven Countries

[11/22/10]  Profit Sharing/401k Council of America [Blog]:  “No Tax Deferral for 401(k) or Other Employer Sponsored DC Plans?

[11/19/10]  Investment Company Institute Research Perspective:

[11/19/10]  Associated Press (via USA Today):  “AP: GAO Tells Congress Raising Retirement Age Hurts Poor

[11/19/10]  Social Security Administration Policy Brief:  “Distributional Effects of Price Indexing Social Security Benefits

[11/19/10]  Sibson Consulting Capital Checkup:  “2011 Medicare Premiums, Deductibles and Coinsurance

[11/18/10]  U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration:  Annual Funding Notice for Defined Benefit Plans; Proposed rule [as published in the Federal Register on Nov. 18, 2010]

[11/18/10]  Mercer:  “Health Benefit Cost Growth Accelerates to 6.9% in 2010” [Press Release]

[11/18/10]  Employee Benefit Adviser:  “Gov’t Amends ‘Grandfather’ Regulation

[11/18/10]  U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services (Office of the Secretary) and Labor (EBSA):  Affordable Care Act; Federal External Review Process; Request for Information [as published in the Federal Register on Nov. 17, 2010]

[11/18/10]  U.S. Senate Finance Committee: “Strengthening Medicare and Medicaid: Taking Steps to Modernize America’s Health Care System” [Hearing held Nov. 17, 2010, includes links to statements and testimony]

[11/17/10]  Bipartisan Policy Center Debt Reduction Task Force:  Restoring America’s Future: Reviving the Economy, Cutting Spending and Debt, and Creating a Simple Pro-Growth Tax System

[11/17/10]  U.S. Departments of the Treasury (IRS), Labor (EBSA), and Health and Human Services (Office of Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight):  Amendment to the Interim Final Rules for Group Health Plans and Health Insurance Coverage Relating to Status as a Grandfathered Health Plan under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act; Amendment to interim final rules with request for comments (on or before Dec. 17, 2010) – [as published in the Federal Register on Nov. 17, 2010]

[11/17/10]  Plan Sponsor:  “Target Dates Losing Image as Best QDIA

[11/17/10]  Milliman 100 Pension Funding Index:  Milliman Analysis: A Second Consecutive Month of Pension Gains: Funded status increased by $79 billion during October - Forecast for End of Years 2011 and 2012

[11/17/10]  Fiduciary News:  “New Study Explains Why the 401k Match FAILS

[11/17/10]  The New York Times:  “Obama Deficit Panel Gets Some Competition

[11/16/10]  The New York Times:  “As Payouts Rise, New Tactics by the U.S. Pension Insurer

[11/16/10]  Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation:  2010 Annual Report

[11/16/10]  Plan Sponsor:  “Fidelity Says Staying the Course Pays Off

[11/16/10]  Charles Schwab:  “Schwab Study Finds Age - Not Finances - Drives Retirement Timing for Pre-Retiree Baby Boomers” [Press Release]

[11/16/10]  Willis North America and Diamond:  The Health Care Reform Survey 2010

[11/16/10]  Health Affairs and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation:  Health Policy Brief: Medical Loss Ratios

[11/16/10]  U.S. Senate Committee on Finance:  “Baucus to Introduce Bill to Repeal Form 1099 Income Reporting Requirements for Small Business” [Press Release]

[11/15/10]  Pensions & Investments:

[11/15/10]  San Francisco Chronicle:  “Retirement: Which Generations Are the Best Savers?

[11/15/10]  Towers Watson:  Accounting for Pensions and Other Post Retirement Benefits, 2010: Reporting under U.S. GAAP among the Fortune 1000 [Note: Complete report can be downloaded at the website]

[11/15/10]  The New York Times:  “Safer Social Security” by Peter Orszag [Opinion]

[11/15/10]  Kaiser Family Foundation:  “Pulling It Together...The People Behind the Entitlement Debate,” from Drew Altman

[11/15/10]  Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services:  Medicare & You

[11/12/10]  Newsweek:  “What You Should Know Before You Retire

[11/12/10]  The New York Times:  “Panel Seeks Social Security Cuts and Higher Taxes

[11/12/10]  Congress.org:  “Debt Panel Co-Chairmen Urge Overhaul

[11/12/10]  FiscalCommission.gov:

[11/12/10]  The Pew Charitable Trusts:  No Silver Bullet: Paths for Reducing the Federal Debt

[11/12/10]  President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability:  The President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability will hold its first meeting on Nov. 30, 2010.  Registration closes on Nov. 23, 2010 or when it reaches capacity.  Click here for further details.

[11/12/10]  Social Security Administration Policy Brief:  “Distributional Effects of Reducing the Social Security Benefit Formula

[11/12/10]  Center for Retirement Research at Boston College:

[11/12/10]  Towers Watson:  Employee Perspectives on Health Care - Part I: The Affordability Gap [Complete report can be downloaded at the website]

[11/12/10]  Employee Benefit Adviser:  “GOP Must Be Strategic in Health Reform Changes

[11/10/10]  Mercer:  “Few Employers Planning to Drop Health Plans after Reform Is in Place, Survey Finds

[11/10/10]  The Los Angeles Times:

[11/10/10]  The New York Times:

[11/10/10]  Equal Employment Opportunity Commission:  Regulations Under the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008; Final Rule [as published in the Federal Register on Nov. 9, 2010]

[11/10/10]  Employee Benefit News:  “The Death of DB Plans? When Two Plus Seven Can Still Equal Zero

[11/10/10]  Retirement Made Simpler™:  Automatic 403(b) Toolkit: Your complete guide to automating your organization’s 403(b) plan

[11/10/10]  Northwestern Mutual:  Financial Matters Study

[11/10/10]  Congress.org:  “Sparring Over Tax Cuts Underway

[11/9/10]  The Washington Post:  “Workers’ Health Insurance Costs for 2011 Include Higher Premiums and Co-payments

[11/9/10]  Kaiser Family Foundation:  Kaiser Health Tracking Poll -- November 2010

[11/9/10]  Internal Revenue Service:  Retirement News for Employers [Special Edition, Nov. 5, 2010]

[11/9/10]  Aon Hewitt:  Pension Finance Update [As of October 31, 2010]

[11/9/10]  Joint Economic Committee:  Social Security Provides Economic Security to Women

[11/9/10]  Congressional Research Service:

[11/8/10]  Chicago Tribune:  “Knowing Where You Stand for Retirement Is Essential

[11/8/10]  Towers Watson:  Hybrid Pension Plans: A Comprehensive Look at Their History, Economics and Features

[11/8/10]  The New York Times:

[11/8/10]  Business Insurance:  “New Form Required for Early Retiree Health Reimbursement

[11/8/10]  The Los Angeles Times:  “States, Not Congress, Can Thwart Healthcare Law

[11/8/10]  Congressional Research Service:  TRICARE and VA Health Care: Impact of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA)

[11/5/10]  Pensions & Investments:  “New Congress Means Little Pension Action Ahead

[11/5/10]  Sibson Consulting Compliance Alert:  “Reminder: ERISA DB Plans Must Post Certain Form 5500 Information on Intranets

[11/5/10]  PR Newswire:  “ING DIRECT USA Survey: Complexity and Confusion Cause Americans to Leave Big Retirement Money at Past Jobs - Nearly One in Five Leave $50,000+ in Old 401(k)s

[11/5/10]  Benefits Quarterly:  “Doing Your Homework: Understanding 401(k) Fees and Making Every Basis Point Count

[11/5/10]  The New York Times:  “Is It Really a Pension? It’s a Problem” [Social Security]

[11/5/10]  The Los Angeles Times:  “Social Security Rules Penalize California Public Employees

[11/4/10]  Mercer:  “Mercer Workplace Survey - Employees in 2010 Hoping for Better Times Ahead but Still Uncertain” [Executive Summary can be downloaded at the site]

[11/4/10]  Associated Press (via The Washington Post):  “No Clear Path for GOP on Health Care Repeal

[11/4/10]  U.S. News & World Report:  “Thousands Claim Retiree Health Care Subsidy

[11/4/10]  Grant Thornton:  “National Survey of U.S. CFOs Finds Nearly One-Third Targeting Healthcare Cutbacks for Their Workforce” [Press Release]

[11/4/10]  Health Affairs & Robert Wood Johnson Foundation:  “’Grandfathered’ Health Plans

[11/4/10]  Workforce Management:  “Improving Employees’ Financial Literacy

[11/4/10]  Towers Watson:

[11/4/10]  Employee Benefit Adviser:  “Income Tax Rates: Back to the Future?

[11/3/10]  Plan Sponsor:  “What Does the Public Know About the New Health Care Law?

[11/3/10]  Social Security Bulletin:

[11/3/10]  University of Michigan Retirement Research Center:  The Effect of the Risk of Out-of-Pocket Spending for Health Care on Economic Preparation for Retirement [Working Paper]

[11/3/10]  Towers Watson:  Asset Allocation Considerations for Nonprofits

[11/3/10]  Mercer:  Melbourne Mercer Global Pension Index

[11/3/10]  Society of Actuaries:  Register Today: Come to Orlando for the Living to 100 International Symposium in January -- Plan to attend the fourth triennial Living to 100 Symposium, Jan. 5-7, 2011, in Orlando, Florida, where thought leaders from around the world will gather to share ideas and knowledge on aging, changes in survival rates and their impact on society, and observed and projected increases in aging populations. Sign up by Dec. 8 for early bird discount pricing.

[11/2/10]  Winston-Salem Journal:  “Health Reform Unpopular But Lively

[11/2/10]  Registered Rep:  “Restoring Retirement Readiness

[11/2/10]  The Hartford:  “New Research from The Hartford Shows Consumers Paying Greater Attention to Retirement Savings After Recession” [News Release]

[11/2/10]  Northern Trust:

[11/1/10]  U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration:  FAQs About the Affordable Care Act Implementation Part IV

[11/1/10]  U.S. News & World Report:  “Healthcare Reform Alters Insurance Choices for 2011 -- Provisions in the Health Reform Law May Affect What Employer Insurance Plans Offer

[11/1/10]  Pharmacy Benefit Management Institute:  Prescription Drug Benefit Cost and Plan Design Online Report, 2010-2011

[11/1/10]  The Commonwealth Fund:  Realizing Health Reform’s Potential: Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plans Created by the Affordable Care Act of 2010

[11/1/10]  Care Continuum Alliance:  Outcomes Guidelines Report Volume 5 [Note: Completion of a user agreement is required to access this free downloadable report.]

[11/1/10]  Profit Sharing/401k Council of America:  “Department of Labor Proposed Changes to Definition of a Fiduciary by Reason of Providing Advice

[10/29/10]  Internal Revenue Service:  “IRS Announces Pension Plan Limitations for 2011” [News Release]

[10/29/10]  Plan SponsorMaximum Benefit Contributions Limit for 2001-2011 [As Published by the Internal Revenue Service]

[10/29/10]  Social Security Administration:  OASDI and SSI Program Rates & Limits - 2011

Updated 11/30/10