What's New - October 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:


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

October 2006 EBRI Issue Brief - "Sources of Health Insurance and Characteristics of the Uninsured: Analysis of the March 2006 Current Population Survey"

October 2006 EBRI Notes - "How Readable Are Summary Plan Descriptions for Health Care Plans?"


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
"Retirement Challenges in the 21st Century" before the annual employee benefits conference sponsored by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans, in Las Vegas, Nevada. GAO-07-125CG, October 10.

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

Health Savings Accounts: Early Enrollee Experiences with Accounts and Eligible Health Plans, by John E. Dicken, director, health care, before the Subcommittee on Health Care, Senate Committee on Finance.
GAO-06-1133T, September 26.  Highlights.

Health Information Technology: HHS Is Continuing Efforts to Define Its National Strategy, by David A. Powner, director, information technology management issues, before the Subcommittee on Federal Workforce and Agency Organization, House Committee on Government Reform, in St. Louis, Missouri. GAO-06-1071T, September 1.  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.

[10/27/06] BenefitsLink.com:  ERISA and Employee Benefits Search of the Web’s Best Articles and Sites [New Resource]

[10/27/06] BenefitNews Connect:  "Congress Promotes National Save for Retirement Week"

[10/27/06] Watson Wyatt Insider:  "PPA Establishes New Rules for Multiemployer Plans"

[10/27/06] TIAA-CREF Institute Trends and Issues:  "Annuities: Now, Later, Never?"

[10/26/06] ECRI:  ECRI Healthcare Conference Nov. 15-16--ECRI, formerly the Emergency Care Research Institute, will hold its 14th annual conference on healthcare practice and policy Nov. 15-16 at the organization’s headquarters in suburban Philadelphia. The title of this year’s conference is “Confronting Dilemmas of Risk in Healthcare: Emerging Trends and Practical Approaches for Decision Makers.” ECRI is an independent nonprofit health services research agency. Click here for conference details.

[10/26/06] Kaiser Family Foundation:  Health Poll Report Survey: Voters on Health Care and the 2006 Elections

[10/26/06] The Levy Economics Institute of Bard College:  Retiree Health Benefit Coverage and Retirement [Working Paper]

[10/26/06] International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans:  What Is The Future of Defined Benefit Pensions? [Slide Presentation by Dallas L. Salisbury at the IFEBP 52nd Annual Employee Benefits Conference, October 9, 2006]

[10/25/06] Kaiser Family Foundation:  New Reports Analyze Latest Data on Health Coverage, Examine the Decline in Employer-Sponsored Coverage

[10/25/06] Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation:  What’s New for Practitioners

[10/25/06] The Levy Economics Institute of Bard College:  The Changing Role of Employer Pensions: Tax Expenditures, Costs, and Implications for Middle-Class Elderly [Working Paper]

[10/25/06] University of Michigan Retirement Research Center:  Alternative Measures of Replacement Rates [Working Paper]

[10/24/06] Internal Revenue Service:  Use of Electronic Media for Providing Employee Benefit Notices and Making Employee Benefit Elections and Consents; Final Regulation

[10/24/06] Health Affairs:  "Consumer-Directed Health Care: Early Evidence about Effects on Cost and Quality"

[10/24/06] Towers Perrin:  Adopting FAS 158 -- Practical Implications and Next Steps for Plan Sponsors [White Paper]

[10/24/06] The Segal Company Bulletin:  "Indexed Numbers for 2007: IRS Dollar Limits, Social Security Factors and the PBGC Premiums and Guarantee Limit"

[10/20/06] Towers Perrin Monitor:  "Plan Sponsors Expect New Pension Law to Spur Higher Contributions"

[10/20/06] University of Michigan Retirement Research Center:  Understanding Trading Behavior in 401(k) Plans [Working Paper]

[10/20/06] Financial Economists Roundtable:  Statement on “Best Practices for the Design of Defined Contribution Pension Plans”

[10/20/06] Internal Revenue Service:  COLA Increases for Dollar Limitations on Benefits and Contributions

[10/19/06] Internal Revenue Service:  "IRS Announces Pension Plan Limitations for 2007"

[10/19/06] Social Security Administration:  "Social Security Announces 3.3 Percent Benefit Increase for 2007"

[10/19/06] Health Affairs:  "Understanding the American Public’s Health Priorities: A 2006 Perspective"

[10/19/06] Robert Wood Johnson Foundation:  Health Information Technology in the United States: The Information Base for Progress

[10/19/06] Aetna, Inc.:  "Aetna Releases Broadest Study to Date of Consumer-Directed Plans"

[10/19/06] Business and Legal Reports:  "Wellness Works, But Beware Legal Landmines"

[10/17/06] Principal Financial Group:  The Principal 10 Best Companies for Employee Financial Security--2006 Winners

[10/17/06] The Vanguard Group’s Regulatory Briefs Alert:  "Pension Protection Act of 2006: Enhanced Distribution Provisions"

[10/17/06] University of Michigan Retirement Research Center:  How Accurate Are Expected Retirement Savings? [Working Paper]

[10/17/06] Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development:  Pension Markets in Focus, October 2006

[10/16/06] Kaiser Family Foundation:  ABC News/Kaiser Family Foundation/USA Today Health Care in America 2006 Survey

[10/16/06] Health Affairs:  "How Common Are Electronic Health Records in the United States? A Summary of the Evidence"

[10/16/06] Families USA Issue Brief:  "Employers Should Pay Their Fair Share for Health Care"

[10/16/06] Society of Actuaries:  401(k) Plans: A Sensible Approach to Investments

[10/16/06] The Vanguard Group:  Life-Cycle Funds: All-in-One Investments

[10/13/06] Milliman, Inc.:  Monthly Benefit News and Developments, October 2006

[10/13/06] Families USA Issue Brief:  "Understanding How Health Insurance Premiums Are Regulated"

[10/13/06] The Adviser:  "Big Three Account for 79% of CI [Critical Illness] Claims"

[10/13/06] Pension Rights Center:  Fact Sheet: Pension Freezes

[10/12/06] Prudential Financial:  Study of Employee Benefits: 2006 and Beyond

[10/12/06] Fidelity Investments:  Building Futures Vol. VII: How Workplace Savings Are Shaping the Future of Retirement [A Report on Corporate Defined Contribution Plans]

[10/12/06] AARP Public Policy Institute:  Health Insurance Coverage and Costs at Older Ages: Evidence from the Health and Retirement Study

[10/12/06] University of Michigan Retirement Research Center:  Americans’ Dependency on Social Security [Working Paper]

[10/11/06] American Council for Capital Formation:

[10/11/06] Prudential Financial’s Pension Analyst:  "Pension Protection Act of 2006 and Other Recent Developments Provide Guidance on Hybrid Plans"

[10/11/06] The Vanguard Group’s Regulatory Briefs Alert:  "Pension Protection Act of 2006: Enhanced Disclosure Provisions and Update on Proposed Default Investment Regulations"

[10/11/06] ERISAdiagnostics, Inc.:  Quick Reference: Pension Protection Act Provisions Effective in 2007 (excludes defined benefit provisions)

[10/11/06] Employee Benefit News:  "Before Making DB Plan Changes, Design Studies Need to be Expanded"

[10/11/06] Benefits & Compensation Digest:  "Prepaid Legal Services Plans"

[10/10/06] Business Insurance:  "Hewitt Estimates Health Costs to Rise 7.7% in 2007"

[10/10/06] Kaiser Family Foundation:  Health Savings Accounts and High-Deductible Health Plans: Are They an Option for Low-Income Families?

[10/10/06] Employee Benefit News:  "Managing Your 401(k) Plan: Choosing Providers and Advisers"

[10/10/06] Milliman’s Client Action Bulletin:  "DOL Proposes Default Investment Guidance for 401(k) Plans"

[10/10/06] Investor Protection Trust:  The Basics of Saving and Investing: Investor Education 2020

[10/6/06] U.S. Department of Labor:  elaws - Health Benefits Advisor [new interactive health laws compliance tool] News Release.

[10/6/06] Watson Wyatt Worldwide:  "Most Workers Fear Higher Costs, Reductions in Health Benefits, Watson Wyatt Surveys Find"

[10/6/06] Employee Benefit News:  "Landmark Ruling, New Bill Validate Legality of Hybrids"

[10/6/06] TIAA-CREF Institute:  Tax-Efficient Sequencing of Accounts to Tap in Retirement

[10/5/06] Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate:  H.R. 6134, Health Opportunity Patient Empowerment Act of 2006Bill Summary.

[10/5/06] ICMA-RC:  "Women’s Retirement Security Bill Introduced."  S. 3951, Women’s Retirement Security Act of 2006.

[10/5/06] Aon Consulting Alert:  "Pension and Retiree Health Funded Status Must Be on Balance Sheet"

[10/5/06] Merrill Lynch’s Pensions & Endowments:  "Market Impact of Pension Accounting Reform"

[10/5/06] Profit Sharing/401(k) Council of America:  49th Annual Survey of Profit Sharing and 401(k) Plans

[10/5/06] Internal Revenue Service:  Listing of Published Guidance (January 2006 - September 2006)

[10/4/06] Center for Studying Health System Change:  "Tracking Health Care Costs: Spending Growth Remains Stable at High Rate in 2005"

[10/4/06] National Association of State Retirement Administrators:  Public Fund Survey Summary of Findings for FY 2005

[10/4/06] Center for Retirement Research at Boston College:  "Will Reverse Mortgages Rescue the Baby Boomers?"

[10/4/06] Buck Consultants Newsflash:  "Major Changes to Pension and Postretirement Benefit Accounting Are Announced"

[10/2/06] Financial Accounting Standards Board:

[10/2/06] National Association of Government Defined Contribution Administrators:  National Save for Retirement Week, October 22-28, 2006

[10/2/06] Congressional Research Service:  Older Workers: Employment and Retirement Trends [Updated September 7, 2006]

[10/2/06] Pew Research Center:  Working After Retirement: The Gap Between Expectations and Reality

[10/2/06] Center for Retirement Research at Boston College:  "Do Older Workers Face Greater Risk of Displacement?"

Updated 10/27/06