What's New - October 2008

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What's new at EBRI this month:


October 2008 EBRI Issue Brief - "Employment-Based Retirement Plan Participation: Geographic Differences and Trends, 2007"

October 2008 EBRI Notes - "The 2008 Health Confidence Survey: Rising Costs Continue to Change the Way Americans Use the Health Care System"


New Survey Released March 19, 2008: Preparing for Their Future: A Look at the Financial State of Gen X and Gen Y - Press Release

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.



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:

Health Information Technology: HHS Has Taken Important Steps to Address Privacy Principles and Challenges, Although More Work Remains. GAO-08-1138, September 17. Highlights.

Federal Pensions: Judicial Survivors' Annuities System Costs. GAO-08-1104, September 17. Highlights.

Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation: Need for Improved Oversight Persists. GAO-08-1062, September 10. Highlights.

Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation: Improvements Needed to Address Financial and Management Challenges, by Barbara D. Bovbjerg, director, education, workforce, and income security, before the Subcommittee on Oversight, House Committee on Ways and Means. GAO-08-1162T, September 24. 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.

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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 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.

[10/30/08]  U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:  Program Perspectives on Health Benefits: “Recent Data on Employers’ Costs and Employees’ Access”

[10/30/08]  Center for Studying Health System Change Issue Brief No. 124:  “Massachusetts Health Reform: High Costs and Expanding Expectations May Weaken Employer Support

[10/30/08]  Milliman’s Client Action Bulletin:  “Strategies for Pension Plans in the Global Financial Crisis

[10/30/08]  Prudential’s Four Pillars of Retirement Series:  The Four Pillars of U.S. Retirement: A Framework to Discuss How Americans Will Prepare for and Live in Retirement

[10/29/08]  Congressional Research Service:

[10/29/08]  Kaiser Family Foundation:  “Kaiser Family Foundation to Launch Non-Profit Health Policy News Service -- Top Journalists from The Wall Street Journal and Congressional Quarterly to Head Kaiser Health News

[10/29/08]  Watson Wyatt Insider:  “New Law Helps Sick Students Keep Health Coverage

[10/29/08]  The Center on Aging and Work Issue Brief 15:  “Self Employment as a Step in the Retirement Process

[10/28/08]  Kaiser Family Foundation Issue Paper:  “The Decline in the Uninsured in 2007: Why Did It Happen and Can It Last?

[10/28/08]  Buck Consultants FYI:  “Massachusetts Finalizes Guidance on Minimum Creditable Coverage Requirements

[10/28/08]  U.S. Joint Committee on Taxation:

[10/28/08]  Social Security Bulletin:  “Alternative Measures of Replacement Rates for Social Security Benefits and Retirement Income

[10/27/08]  Watson Wyatt Worldwide:  “One in Four Companies Planning Layoffs, But Most Taking Measured Approach to Economic Crisis, Watson Wyatt Survey Finds

[10/27/08]  Pensions & Investments:  “401(k) Plans Could Be Facing a Total Revamp

[10/27/08]  U.S. House Committee on Education and Labor:  Full Committee Field Hearing on “The Impact of the Financial Crisis on Workers’ Retirement Security” [including links to testimonies]

[10/27/08]  Urban Institute:

[10/27/08]  American Academy of Actuaries Issue Brief:  “Taking Control: An Actuarial Perspective on Health Spending Growth

[10/23/08]  Aon Consulting Alert:  2009 Limits for Benefit Plans

[10/23/08]  Investment Company Institute:  Defined Contribution Plan Distribution Choices at Retirement: A Survey of Employees Retiring Between 2002 and 2007

[10/23/08]  Center for Retirement Research at Boston College:  Are Retirement Savings Too Exposed to Market Risk?

[10/23/08]  American Benefits Council:  10-Point Plan to Help Employees and Retirees and to Strengthen the Economy and the Retirement System

[10/22/08]  The Vision Council:  Vision Care: Focusing on the Workplace Benefit

[10/22/08]  AARP:  Staying Ahead of the Curve 2007: The AARP Work and Career Study

[10/22/08]  Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services:

[10/22/08]  Urban Institute:  Distributional Analysis of Pension and Social Security Reforms: Alternative Approaches and a Report on an Expert Panel Meeting

[10/21/08]  National Conference of State Legislatures:  Comparison of Individual and Family Premiums Nationally and by State – 2004-2008

[10/21/08]  health08.org:  Kaiser Health Tracking Poll: Election 2008 -- October 2008

[10/21/08]  Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Statistical Brief #223:  “Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance for State and Local Governments, by Census Division, 2006

[10/21/08]  Robert Wood Johnson Foundation:  High and Rising Health Care Costs: Demystifying U.S. Health Care Spending

[10/20/08]  Internal Revenue Service:

[10/20/08]  Watson Wyatt Insider:

[10/20/08]  Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services:

[10/20/08]  U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration:

[10/17/08]  Social Security Administration:  “Social Security Announces 5.8 Percent Benefit Increase for 2009

[10/17/08]  Center for Retirement Research at Boston College:  The Impact of Inflation on Social Security Benefits

[10/17/08]  Families USA:  Premiums versus Paychecks: A Growing Burden for Workers: New State Reports from Families USA

[10/17/08]  Center for Studying Health System Change Research Brief No. 8:  “How Engaged Are Consumers in Their Health and Health Care, and Why Does It Matter

[10/17/08]  Kaiser Family Foundation:  2008 Update on Consumers’ Views of Patient Safety and Quality Information

[10/17/08]  Center for State and Local Government Excellence Issue Brief:  “The Funding Status of Locally Administered Pension Plans

[10/16/08]  Milliman, Inc.:  Monthly Benefit News and Developments, October/November 2008

[10/16/08]  Society for Human Resource Management:  “Financial Crisis Sparks New Debate on Retirement Benefits

[10/16/08]  Urban Institute:  Are Low-Wage Workers Destined for Low Income at Retirement?

[10/16/08]  National Conference of State Legislatures:  “States Use of ‘Cafeteria Plans’ to Provide Health Insurance

[10/15/08]  The Washington Post:

[10/15/08]  Mercer:  Quarterly Pensions Update

[10/15/08]  Kaiser Family Foundation Snapshots:  “Compensation for Workers with and without Access to Health Benefits at Work

[10/15/08]  Economic Policy Institute Briefing Paper:  “The Erosion of Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance -- Declines Continue for the Seventh Year Running

[10/14/08]  U.S. House Committee on Education and Labor:  “Chairmen Miller, Andrews Ask Bush Administration for Immediate Retirement Savings Tax Relief -- Members Also Announce Plans to Push Legislation to Permanently End Tax Penalty for Most Retirees

[10/14/08]  Internal Revenue Service:  Extension of Effective Date of Normal Retirement Age Regulations for Governmental Plans [Notice 2008-98]

[10/14/08]  U.S. Departments of the Treasury, Labor, Health & Human Services:  Request for Information Regarding Sections 101 Through 104 of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008; Request for Information [as published in the Federal Register on Oct. 10, 2008]

[10/14/08]  Milliman’s Client Action Bulletin:  “Mental Health Parity, Other Health-Related Requirements Enacted

[10/9/08]  Internal Revenue Service:  Notice to Participants of Consequences of Failing to Defer Receipt of Qualified Retirement Plan Distributions; Expansion of Applicable Election Period and Period for Notices; Notice of Public Rulemaking and Notice of Public Hearing [published in the Federal Register on Oct. 9, 2008]

[10/9/08]  The Vanguard Group:  “Committee Considerations in a Time of Extraordinary Events Affecting Financial Markets

[10/9/08]  Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies:  Retirement Outlook and Policy Priorities -- How the New President and Congress May Help Increase Retirement Confidence

[10/9/08]  AARP:  Retirement Security or Insecurity? The Experience of Workers Aged 45 and Older

[10/8/08]  U.S. House Committee on Education and Labor:  Hearing on “The Impact of the Financial Crisis on Workers’ Retirement Security” [including links to testimonies]

[10/8/08]  AARP:

[10/8/08]  Congressional Research Service:

[10/7/08]  U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration [Note: All of the following were published in the Federal Register on Oct. 7, 2008]:

[10/7/08]  CFO.com:  “Pension-plan Funding Levels Slide

[10/7/08]  New York State Health Policy Research Center:  Implementing Small Group Insurance Market Reforms: Lessons from the States

[10/7/08]  America’s Health Insurance Plans:  Trends and Innovations in Health Information Technology

[10/6/08]  Internal Revenue Service:

[10/6/08]  Investment Company Institute Research Perspective:

[10/6/08]  Wellness Council of America: The 10 Benefits of Conducting a Personal Health Assessment

[10/6/08]  Council for Affordable Health Insurance’s Issues & Answers:  “HSAs, FSAs, HRAs: Which Consumer-Driven Health Care Option Should You Choose?” [Updated for 2008 and 2009]

[10/3/08]  Mercer:  Employee Benefit Plans -- Why Manage Globally?

[10/3/08]  Buck Consultants FYI:  “DOL Releases Proposed Regulations on Participant Investment Advice

[10/3/08]  Galen Institute:  Overview of the U.S. Health Sector

[10/3/08]  Center for State & Local Government Excellence:  After GASB 45: Solving the Unfunded Liability Problem in Retiree Health Care

[10/2/08]  Sun Life Financial:  Unretirement Index

[10/2/08]  American Academy of Actuaries Issue Brief:  “Fundamentals of Insurance: Implications for Health Coverage

[10/2/08]  The Commonwealth Fund:  The 2008 Presidential Candidates’ Health Reform Proposals: Choices For America

[10/2/08]  Kaiser Family Foundation:  “Pulling It Together: What Do We Want Health Insurance To Be?” from Drew Altman

[10/1/08]  National Association of Government Defined Contribution Administrators:  National Save for Retirement Week, Oct. 19-25, 2008

[10/1/08]  U.S. Chamber of Commerce:  Participate today in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s 2008 Employee Benefits SurveyClick here to participate.  [Note: The survey closes October 14.]

[10/1/08]  The Los Angeles Times:  “Federal Court Upholds San Francisco Healthcare Program”  9th Circuit Ruling.

[10/1/08]  Internal Revenue Service:  Updated Static Mortality Tables for the Years 2009 through 2013 [Notice 2008-85]

[10/1/08]  National Academy of Social Insurance Social Security Brief:  “Social Security and Private Savings: Complementary Roles

[10/1/08]  Center for Retirement Research at Boston College:  The Decline of Career Employment

Updated 10/30/08