What's New

What's New - October 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:


October 2004 EBRI Issue Brief - "Employment-Based Retirement Plan Participation: Geographic Differences and Trends"

October 2004 EBRI Notes - "Uninsured Rose in 2003 as Number of Americans With Employment-Based Health Benefits Declined"

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 2004 Sponsor Survey -This Sponsor Survey pdf provides a brief description of each project contained in this year's EBRI Sponsor Survey. If you are an EBRI member and have not received an email with the web address for the online survey, please contact Alicia Willis at 202-572-7422 or willis@ebri.org.

EBRI Spring Policy Forum - EBRI's spring Policy Forum entitled "ERISA AT 30: The Decline of Private-Sector Defined Benefit Promises and Annuity Payments? What Will It Mean?" was held in Washington, DC on May 6, 2004. Policy Forum Materials

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:

Prescription Drugs: Trends in Usual and Customary Prices for Drugs Commonly Used by Medicare and Non-Medicare Enrollees. GAO-05-104R, October 6.

Health Coverage Tax Credit: Simplified and More Timely Enrollment Processes Could Increase Participation. GAO-04-1029, September 30.  Highlights

Health Information: First-Year Experiences Under the Federal Privacy Rules. GAO-04-965, September 3.  Highlights

Medicare: Information Needed to Assess Adequacy of Rate-Setting Methodology for Payments for Hospital Outpatient Services. GAO-04-772, September 17.  Highlights

Private Pensions: Airline Plans' Underfunding Illustrates Broader Problems with Defined Benefit Pension System, by David M. Walker, comptroller general of the United States, before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. GAO-05-108T, October 7.  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.

[10/22/04]  TIAA-CREF Institute Research Dialogue:   "The Outlook of Retiree Health Benefits"

[10/22/04]  Health Affairs [Web Exclusive]:   "Trends: The Impact of Obesity on Rising Medical Spending"

[10/22/04]  Economic Policy Institute:  Economic Snapshots:   Health Care: U.S. Spends More, Gets Less

[10/22/04]  Employee Benefit News:  "Rule Change on Deemed IRAs Does Not End Employer Concerns"

[10/22/04]  Milliman, Inc. Benefits Information Bulletin:   "Rules Governing Deferred Compensation Overhauled: New Law Affects Nonqualified Retirement Plans, 457(f), Incentive Pay, and More!"

[10/22/04]  Internal Revenue Service:  IRS Announces Pension Plan Limitations for 2005

[10/20/04]  The Segal Company:  New Numbers for 2005: IRS Dollar Limits, Social Security Factors, and the PBGC Guarantee Limit

[10/20/04]  Social Security Administration:  2005 Social Security Changes, Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA): 2004-2005 Comparison Table

[10/20/04]  Allstate:  Fourth Annual Allstate “Retirement Reality Check” Survey Mini Executive Summary.   Press Release

[10/20/04]  Business Week Online:  "Pumped-Up Pension Plays? Regulators Are Investigating How Some Companies Tinker With Retiree Accounting"

[10/19/04]  The Christian Science Monitor:  "The Retirement Squeeze: How Would They Fix It?"

[10/19/04]  Society of Actuaries:  Post-Retirement Risks: Changing Needs and Resources

[10/19/04]  Kaiser Family Foundation:  StateHealthFacts.org [updated with new data]

[10/18/04]  Fidelity Investments:  Building Futures V: A Report on Corporate Defined Contribution Plans

[10/18/04]  Center for Retirement Research at Boston College:   Will Health Care Costs Erode Retirement Security?

[10/18/04]  Employee Benefit News:  "Funds Scandals End Age of Innocence for DC Plans"

[10/18/04]  CCH Incorporated:  Unscheduled Employee Absenteeism Rises to Five-Year High

[10/18/04]  H.R.1779:  “To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow penalty-free withdrawals from retirement plans during the period that a military reservist or national guardsman is called to active duty for an extended period, and for other purposes”  Bill Summary & Status Information

[10/15/04]  KaiserNetwork.org:  Corporate Tax Bill To Change How Employers Can Cut Health Care Costs for Retirees

[10/15/04]  State Coverage Initiatives:  Issue Brief:   "The Role of Reinsurance in State Efforts to Expand Coverage"

[10/15/04]  The New England Journal of MedicinePerspective--Election 2004:   "Controlling Health Care Costs"

[10/15/04]  Congressional Research Service:  Automatic Enrollment in Section 401(k) Plans

[10/14/04]  Hewitt Associates:  Health Care Costs Show Signs of Moderating, but Still Outpace Inflation

[10/14/04]  Health Affairs [Web Exclusive]:   "Employers’ Responses to a Play-or-Pay Mandate: An Analysis of California’s Health Insurance Act of 2003"

[10/14/04]  Principal Financial Group:  The Principal 10 Best Companies for Employee Financial Security-2004

[10/14/04]  Wilshire Associates:  2004 Wilshire Report on City & County Retirement Systems: Funding Levels and Asset Allocation

[10/14/04]  Urban Institute:  Deferring Income in Employer-Sponsored Retirement Plans: The Dynamics of Participant Contributions

[10/14/04]  National Center for Policy Analysis:  How Will We Pay for Social Security and Medicare?

[10/14/04]  Financial Times:  "FASB Delays Stock Options Expensing Rule"

[10/12/04]  The Commonwealth Fund:  Health Care Reform Returns to the National Agenda: The 2004 Presidential Candidates’ Proposals [Updated October 2004]

[10/12/04] The Washington Post:  "Pension Promise No Guarantee of Security" [registration may be required]

[10/12/04]  Mercer Human Resource Consulting:  Bill Would Freeze Executive Benefits

[10/12/04]  Employee Benefit News:  "Smaller Companies Catch Up with the Big Boys with a Web Portal for DB Plans"

[10/8/04]  Principal Financial Group:  Principal Financial Well-Being Index Executive Summary - Third Quarter 2004

[10/8/04]  American Express:  American Express 401(k) Participant Survey Reveals Individual Confidence in Retirement Planning Continues to be Driven by Goal Setting

[10/8/04]  Business Week Online:  "Putting Your 401(k) on Autopilot"

[10/7/04]  Omaha World-Herald:  "Bush, Kerry Split on Social Security"

[10/7/04]  U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration:  Remarks of Assistant Secretary Ann L. Combs at the 57th National Conference of the Profit Sharing/401(k) Council

[10/7/04]  Benefit News Connect:  "Are Cash Balance Plans Discriminatory? - Responses"

[10/7/04]  AARP Bulletin Online:  "Medicare Hike Could Squeeze SS Benefits: Premium Jump Biggest Ever"

[10/7/04]  The Commonwealth Fund: Issue Brief:   "Wages, Health Benefits, and Workers’ Health"

[10/7/04]  The HSA Insider:  "The President’s Plans for Health Savings Accounts"

[10/6/04]  The New York Times:  "Study: Health Care Cost Growth Tapers Off" [registration may be required]

[10/6/04]  Profit Sharing/401(k) Council of America:  47th Annual Survey of Profit Sharing and 401(k) Plans

[10/6/04]  Mercer Human Resource Consulting:  2004/2005 United States Benefit and Employment Guidelines [report summary]

[10/6/04]  ERISA Industry Committee:  Summary of Bush Administration’s Pension Funding Proposals

[10/6/04]  Financial Advisor Magazine:  "The Roth 401(k) May Be Here Soon"

[10/5/04]  The Washington Post:  "Official: Raising Retirement Age May Help" [registration may be required]

[10/5/04]  Employee Benefit News:  "Work-Life at 20: Assessing Its Value in the Workplace"

[10/4/04]  The Christian Science Monitor:   "United’s Pension Woes: Sign of Bigger Issue"

[10/4/04]  USA Today:  "The Looming National Benefit Crisis"

[10/4/04]  Mellon’s Human Resources & Investor Solutions:  Mellon’s HR&IS Issues Full Report and Analysis on 2004 Survey of Cash Balance Plans

[10/4/04]  Employee Benefit News:  "Study Shows Six Out of 10 Companies Outsource Benefits"

[10/4/04]  Business Insurance:  "IRS Eliminates ‘Double Dip’ in Parking Benefits"

[10/4/04]  The Segal Company:  Results of the Segal Survey of Massachusetts Jurisdictions’ Benefits for Same-Gender Spouses of Employees

[10/1/04]  U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration:  Field Assistance Bulletin 2004-02, “Fiduciary Duties and Missing Participants in Terminated Defined Contribution Plans”

[10/1/04]  Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas:  "Is the Pension System a Liability?"

[10/1/04]  The Washington Post:  "House Rejects Same-Sex Marriage Ban" [registration may be required]

[10/1/04]  Ceridian Connection:  "Ending Small Business Disadvantages with Association Health Plans"

[10/1/04]  BenefitNews.com:  401(k) Participants Maintain Balances, Keep Few Investments

[10/1/04]  Watson Wyatt Worldwide:  "Health Care Spending and Savings Accounts: A Way Out of Our Health Care Crisis?"

[10/1/04]  Mercer Human Resource Consulting:  Retirement Perspective: The Role of Company Stock in a Defined Contribution Plan

[10/1/04]  Harvard University:  Plan Design and 401(k) Savings Outcomes [written for the National Tax Journal Forum on Pensions, June 2004]

[10/1/04]  H.R.5110, Comprehensive Long-Term Care Support Act of 2004:  Bill Summary & Status Information


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Updated 11/2/04