What's New - October 2005

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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:


October 2005 EBRI Issue Brief - "Employment-Based Retirement Plan Participation: Geographic Differences and Trends, 2004"

October 2005 EBRI Notes - "Uninsured Unchanged in 2004, But Employment-Based Health Coverage Declined"


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

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: Questions Concerning the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation's Practices Regarding Single-Employer Probable Claims. GAO-05-991R, September 9.

Social Security Reform: Other Countries' Experiences Provide Lessons for the United States. GAO-06-126, October 21.  Highlights.

Commercial Aviation: Bankruptcy and Pension Problems Are Symptoms of Underlying Structural Issues. GAO-05-945, September 30.  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.

[10/28/05] Rep. John A. Boehner, Chairman, U.S. House Committee on Education & the Workforce:  A Plan for Fiscal Responsibility: Strengthening Higher Education and Protecting Retirement Security on Behalf of Students, Workers, Retirees, & Taxpayers

[10/28/05] The Segal Company Executive Letter:  "After “Freezing” a Pension Plan, Decision-Making Really Heats Up"

[10/28/05] Profit Sharing/401(k) Council of America:  Roth 401(k) Minisurvey 2005

[10/28/05] TIAA-CREF Institute Policy Brief:  "Measuring Social Security’s Financial Outlook Within an Aging Society"

[10/27/05] Milliman, Inc.:  "Milliman 2005 Group Health Insurance Survey Sees Slowing of Premium Increases"

[10/27/05] Families and Work Institute:  2005 National Study of Employers: Highlights of Findings.  Press Release.

[10/27/05] Principal Financial Group:  "Fiduciary Issues for Financial Professionals Under ERISA"

[10/27/05] Employee Benefits Legal Resource Site:  Comparison of 457(b) Plans, 401(k) Plans, 403(b) Plans, and Deemed IRAs

[10/27/05] American Benefits Council:  Promises to Keep: The True Nature of the Risks to the Defined Benefit Pension System

[10/27/05] AARP Public Policy Institute Issue Brief:  "Cash Balance Pension Plans and Older Workers"

[10/26/05] Business Insurance:  "House Committee Approves PBGC Premium Hike"

[10/26/05] Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate:  Reconciliation Recommendations of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions As Approved by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions on October 18, 2005

[10/26/05] HR Policy Association:  "Sen. Santorum Introduces 401(k) Automatic Enrollment Bill That Protects Default Investments."  Text of S.1819.

[10/26/05] American Benefits Council:  Automatic Enrollment Legislation Introduced in the 109th Congress

[10/26/05] TIAA-CREF Institute Trends and Issues:  "Enhancing Retirement Savings Outcomes in Employer Sponsored Savings Plan, Part 1 - Increasing Participation," by Brigitte Madrian

[10/26/05] Hewitt Associates:  "U.S. Companies Face Lowest Health Care Cost Increases Since 1999, According to Hewitt Associates"

[10/26/05] Towers Perrin Monitor:  "Employers Face 8% Increase in Health Care Costs in 2006"

[10/26/05] Economic Policy Institute Briefing Paper:  "Prognosis Worsens for Workers’ Health Care: Fourth Consecutive Year of Decline in Employer-Provided Insurance Coverage"

[10/26/05] Internal Revenue Service:  COLA Increases for Dollar Limitations on Benefits and Contributions

[10/26/05] Hay Group:  2005 Social Security Summary: Incorporating Changes to January 1, 2005

[10/25/05] Internal Revenue Service:  IRS Announces Pension Plan Limitations for 2006

[10/25/05] Social Security Administration:  Social Security Announces 4.1 Percent Benefit Increase for 2006

[10/25/05] Profit Sharing/401(k) Council of America:  48th Annual Survey of Profit Sharing and 401(k) Plans

[10/25/05] Pension Research Council:  Turning Workers into Savers? Incentives, Liquidity, and Choice in 401(k) Plan Design [Working Paper]

[10/25/05] AARP Public Policy Institute:  Transition Provisions in Large Converted Cash Balance Pension Plans

[10/25/05] Aetna, Inc.:  New National Survey Shows Lack of Planning for Health Care or Health Benefits in Retirement

[10/5/05] The Hill:  "Chairmen Scrap for Upper Hand with Pension Reform"

[10/5/05] Congressional Research Service:  S.1783, The Pension Security and Transparency Act of 2005 [Updated October 3, 2005]

[10/5/05] U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce:  Pension Protection Act of 2005 [Report 109-232, Part 1]

[10/5/05] Committee on Investment of Employee Benefit Assets:  Pension Reform: Impact on Defined Benefit Plans

[10/5/05] Allstate:  Fifth Annual Allstate “Retirement Reality Check” Mini Executive Summary (It Isn’t Me). Press Release.

[10/5/05] Social Security Bulletin:  "Lifetime Earnings, Social Security Benefits, and the Adequacy of Retirement Wealth Accumulation"

[10/5/05] The Commonwealth Fund:  A Need to Transform the U.S. Health Care System: Improving Access, Quality, and Efficiency -- A Chartbook

[10/5/05] Mercer Human Resource Consulting:  GRIST Report: Immediate Employer Issues in Responding to Hurricane Katrina - Updated

[10/4/05] Profit Sharing/401(k) Council of America:  Description of Private Sector Defined Contribution Provisions in S.1783, The Pension Security and Transparency Act As Introduced on 9/28/05

[10/4/05] Employee Benefit News:  "Conducting a Meaningful 401(k) Due Diligence Study"

[10/4/05] AARP:  Goodbye to Complacency: Financial Literacy Education in the U.S. 2000-2005

[10/4/05] National Committee for Quality Assurance:  The State of Health Care Quality 2005 -- Facts in Brief

[10/4/05] Health Affairs:  "Medicare Extra: A Comprehensive Benefit Option For Medicare Beneficiaries"

[10/3/05] Los Angeles Times (via BCBSHealthIssues.com):  "Health Care Crisis Goes Untreated, but the Cancer Is Spreading"

[10/3/05] AccountingWEB.com:  "Small Business Owners Can Reduce Health Benefits Costs"

[10/3/05] Chicago Consulting Actuaries:  Communicating Regulation Changes to Employees and Retirees

[10/3/05] The ERISA Industry Committee:  ERIC Comparison of Major Employer Defined Contribution Provisions in the Chairman’s Mark of the National Employee Savings and Trust Equity Guarantee Act (NESTEG) and the Pension Security and Transparency Act of 2005 (PSTA)

[10/3/05] McKay Hochman Co., Inc.:  "Roth 401(k) FAQs"

[10/3/05] Compensation and Working Conditions Online:  "Retirement Plan Design and the Mobile Workforce"

Updated 10/28/05