What's New - October 2011

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What's new at EBRI this month:

EBRI 2011 Spring Policy Forum: “Is There a Future for Retirement?” ["gavel to gavel" webcast - Prerecorded broadcast available through the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans]

Visit EBRI's Blog!

EBRI's Recent Media Coverage

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

401(k) Balances and Changes Due to Market Volatility


October 2011 EBRI Issue Brief - "Employment-Based Retirement Plan Participation: Geographic Differences and Trends, 2010"

October 2011 EBRI Notes - "Ownership of Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) and 401(k)-Type Plans, 1996-2009" and "Tracking Health Insurance Coverage by Month: Trends in Employment-Based Coverage Among Workers, and Access to Coverage Among Uninsured Workers, 1995-2010"


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:

Private Health Insurance: Implementation of the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program. GAO-11-875R, September 30.

The Federal Government's Long-Term Fiscal Outlook: Fall 2011 Update. GAO-12-28SP, October 24. Podcast available.

Health Care Price Transparency: Meaningful Price Information is Difficult for Consumers to Obtain Prior to Receiving Care. GAO-11-791, September 23. Highlights.

Income Security: Older Adults and the 2007-2009 Recession. GAO-12-76, October 18.

Medicare Part D: Instances of Questionable Access to Prescription Drugs. GAO-11-699, September 6. Highlights.

Private Health Insurance: Early Experiences Implementing New Medical Loss Ratio Requirements. GAO-11-711, July 29. Highlights.

Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plans: Program Features, Early Enrollment and Spending Trends, and Federal Oversight Activities. GAO-11-662, July 27. Highlights.

Long-Term Care Insurance: Carrier Interest in the Federal Program, Changes to Its Actuarial Assumptions, and OPM Oversight. GAO-11-630, July 11. Highlights.

Private Health Insurance: State Oversight of Premium Rates. GAO-11-701, July 29. Highlights.

Value in Health Care: Key Information for Policymakers to Assess Efforts to Improve Quality While Reducing Costs. GAO-11-445, July 26. Highlights.

Income Security: The Effect of the 2007-2009 Recession on Older Adults, by Barbara D. Bovbjerg, managing director, education, workforce, and income security issues before the Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging, Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. GAO-12-172T, October 18.

Medicare Part D: Instances of Questionable Access to Prescription Drugs by Gregory D. Kutz, FAIS, before Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee: Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services And International Security Subcommittee. GAO-12-104T, October 4.

Defined Benefit Pension Plans: Plans Face Challenges When Investing in Hedge Funds and Private Equity, by Barbara Bovbjerg, Managing Director, Education, Workforce, and Income Security, before the U.S. Department of Labor's Advisory Council on Employee Welfare and Pension Benefit Plans. GAO-11-901SP, August 31. Highlights.

Private Health Insurance: State Oversight of Premium Rates and Changes in Response to Federal Rate Review Grants, by John E. Dicken, director, health care, before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. GAO-11-878T, August 2.



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.

[10/31/11]  U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration:  Prohibited Transaction Exemption Procedures; Employee Benefit Plans; Final rule [as published in the Federal Register on Oct. 27, 2011]

[10/31/11]  Sibson Consulting Bulletin:  “For 2012, Increases in Many IRS Dollar Limits, Social Security Benefits and PBGC Guarantee Limit

[10/31/11]  Center for Studying Health System Change Issue Brief:  “Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance: Down But Not Out

[10/31/11]  Kaiser Family Foundation:  Kaiser Health Tracking Poll -- October 2011

[10/27/11]  Plan Sponsor:  “Workers to Receive Modest Pay Raises in 2012

[10/27/11]  Towers Watson Insider:  “Asset Allocations of Corporate Pension Plans as of Year-End 2010

[10/27/11]  Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Urban Institute:  Why Employers Will Continue to Provide Health Insurance: The Impact of the Affordable Care Act

[10/27/11]  National Business Group on Health:  “Use of Rewards and Penalties to Drive Employee Health Jumps During 2012” [Press Release]

[10/27/11]  MetLife Mature Market Institute:  The 2011 MetLife Market Survey of Nursing Home, Assisted Living, Adult Day Services, and Home Care Costs

[10/27/11]  Congressional Budget Office:  Trends in the Distribution of Household Income Between 1979 and 2007

[10/26/11]  U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration:

[10/26/11]  The Washington Post:  “Investment guidance for employees long overdue

[10/26/11]  Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies:  Full-time & Part-time Workers: 12th Annual Transamerica Retirement Survey

[10/26/11]  Upjohn Institute Employment Research Newsletter:  “Pension Reform: How Have Workers Fared?” by Edward N. Wolff

[10/26/11]  Plan Sponsor:  “Employment-Based Health Insurance Coverage Declining

[10/26/11]  The Wall Street Journal:  “FSAs: Now Less Flexible - A new rule is making these accounts less easy to use, say experts, but workers may still want to sign up.

[10/25/11]  The Washington Post:  “Health-care coverage still eludes some part-time workers

[10/25/11]  Pharmacy Benefit Management Institute:  2011-2012 Prescription Drug Benefit Cost and Plan Design Report [The full report can be downloaded at the website]

[10/25/11]  Center for Retirement Research at Boston College:  Comparing Wealth in Retirement: State-Local Versus Private Sector Workers

[10/25/11]  Employee Benefit Adviser:  “401(k) loans are on the rise: Plan leakage prompts talk of tougher rules on participant borrowing

[10/25/11]  Sun Life Financial:  Unretirement Index: Insights into Americans’ changing views of retirement

[10/25/11]  Social Security Administration:

[10/20/11]  The Washington Post:  “IRS raises maximum 401(k) contribution by $500 to $17,000 for 2012 to reflect inflation

[10/20/11]  401khelpcenter:  “Pension Plan Limits for the Tax Years 2006 - 2012

[10/20/11]  Unum:  “What’s the rush? Employees want time to mull benefits choices

[10/20/11]  U.S. News & World Report [Blog]:  “Unequal Access to Retirement Benefits

[10/20/11]  Employee Benefit News:  “State of the 401(k): a snapshot of the state of the 401(k) industry, featuring the latest benchmarking data and statistics.

[10/20/11]  Towers Watson Insider:  “A Look at Defined Contribution Match Reinstatements

[10/20/11]  Kaiser Family Foundation:  “Questions About Essential Health Benefits

[10/20/11]  Families USA:  The Bottom Line: How the Affordable Care Act Helps America’s Families

[10/20/11]  The Commonwealth Fund:  Why Not the Best? Results from the National Scorecard on U.S. Health System Performance, 2011

[10/20/11]  Social Security Administration:  Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) Information for 2012

[10/19/11]  Congressional Budget Office:  Use of Tax Incentives for Retirement Saving in 2006

[10/19/11]  Fortune (via CNN Money):  “Do you actually know what’s in your retirement fund?

[10/19/11]  Center for Retirement Research at Boston College:  How Prepared Are State and Local Workers for Retirement?

[10/19/11]  PricewaterhouseCoopers HRS Insight:  “Pension Accounting for Governments - Changes Are Coming

[10/19/11]  Plan Sponsor:

[10/19/11]  Gallup-Healthways:  Well-Being Index® [“The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index® is the first-ever daily assessment of U.S. residents’ health and well-being.  By interviewing at least 1,000 U.S. adults every day, the Well-Being Index provides real-time measurement and insights needed to improve health, increase productivity, and lower healthcare costs.”]

[10/18/11]  Internal Revenue Service Webinar:  “Reporting of Employer Healthcare Coverage on Form W-2” [Presented on October 31, 2011]

[10/18/11]  Kaiser Health News:

[10/18/11]  Center for State & Local Government Excellence Issue Brief:  “Health Insurance for Active and Retired City Employees: Asheville, Denver, and Oklahoma City

[10/18/11]  AdvisorOne:  “Top 10 Best States for Workers Investing in Retirement Plans

[10/18/11]  Plan Sponsor:  “Nearly Half of Investors Worry About Losing Money Due to Market Volatility

[10/17/11]  U.S. Census Bureau:  State & Local Public-Employee Retirement Systems [2009 Data]

[10/17/11]  Business Insurance:  “IRS delays cash balance pension plan rules to at least 2013

[10/17/11]  Reuters (via The Baltimore Sun):  “Analysis: Pension woes are complicating retirement

[10/17/11]  Prudential’s Pension Analyst:  “Defined benefit plans must make required payments

[10/17/11]  The Los Angeles Times:  “Bill would remove penalty for tapping 401(k) to avoid foreclosure

[10/17/11]  Investment News:  “Critics fear government isn’t promoting annuities enough

[10/17/11]  Human Resource Executive Online:  “To Self-Insure…Or Not?

[10/17/11]  Kaiser Family Foundation:

[10/14/11]  ICMA-RC:  National Save for Retirement Week: October 16-22, 2011 [This website includes links to resources for plan sponsors and plan participants.]

[10/14/11]  Internal Revenue Service:  Employee Plans News [Oct. 12, 2011]

[10/14/11]  Plan Sponsor:  “DC Plan Participation Leveled Off

[10/14/11]  OregonLive.com:  “Study: Fewer workers saved for retirement after the crisis, but those who did saw their savings grow

[10/14/11]  Investor’s Business Daily:  “Are Democrats Eyeing 401(k)s, IRAs for Tax Hit?

[10/14/11]  Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation:  Benefits Payable in Terminated Single-Employer Plans; Interest Assumptions for Paying Benefits; Final rule [as published in the Federal Register on Oct. 14, 2011]

[10/14/11]  U.S. House Committee on Education & the Workforce, Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions:  Hearing on “Regulations, Costs, and Uncertainty in Employer Provided Health Care” [Hearing held Oct. 13, 2011, includes links to archived webcast and written testimonies]

[10/14/11]  Urban Institute Health Policy Center:  Containing the Growth of Spending in the U.S. Health System

[10/13/11]  Milliman 100 Pension Funding Index:  Milliman Analysis: Declining interest rates fuel record growth in pension funding deficit

[10/13/11]  Society of Actuaries:  The Rising Tide of Pension Contributions Post-2008: How much and when? An analysis of funding for the U.S. private sector single-employer defined benefit system

[10/13/11]  Rotman International Journal of Pension Management:  “The Global Financial Crisis and the Performance of Target-Date Funds in the United States

[10/13/11]  Plan Sponsor Council of America:  PSCA’s 54th Annual Survey of Profit Sharing and 401(k) Plans - Highlights of Results

[10/13/11]  Better Days:  “A Post-Crisis Assessment of Retirement Income Adequacy for Baby Boomers and Gen Xers

[10/13/11]  MetLife Mature Market Institute:  The 2011 MetLife Retirement Income IQ: A Survey of Pre-Retiree Knowledge of Financial Retirement Issues

[10/12/11]  Milliman’s Client Action Bulletin:  “Health Reform: A Roundup of Recent Developments

[10/12/11]  Kaiser Family Foundation:  Focus on Health Reform: Uniform Coverage Summaries for Consumers

[10/12/11]  Bloomberg:  “A Health Insurance Plan With a Retirement Kicker

[10/12/11]  The New England Journal of Medicine:  “Reforming Provider Payment -- The Price Side of the Equation” [Perspective]

[10/12/11]  MetLife:  Fiduciary-Level Disclosures For ERISA Retirement Plans

[10/12/11]  Plan Adviser:  “Employment-Based Plan Participation Steady in 2010

[10/12/11]  Fox Business:  “Aging Small Business Owners Put Off Retirement Amid Money Fears

[10/12/11]  Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America:  Rethinking what’s ahead in retirement

[10/11/11]  Milliman Inc.:  Monthly Benefit News and Developments [October 2011]

[10/11/11]  Institute of Medicine of the National Academies:

[10/11/11]  America’s Health Insurance Plans:  2011 Health Insurance: Overview and Economic Impact in the States

[10/11/11]  Plan Sponsor:  “Survey Reveals Consumer Health Care Habits

[10/11/11]  Americans for Secure Retirement:  Findings From National Voter Survey: Americans Anxious About Retirement Security

[10/11/11]  Employee Benefit Adviser:  “Auto-enrollment boosts 401(k) participation 19 percentage points to 78%

[10/6/11]  Plan Sponsor:

[10/6/11]  On Wall Street and SourceMedia, Inc.:  “Retirement Rules for Small Business Clients

[10/6/11]  The Wall Street Journal:  “How Employers Raid Pension Plans

[10/6/11]  Cogent Research:  Retirement Planscape™: 2011 -- Measuring Brand Loyalty in the Retirement Plan Sponsor Marketplace [report overview]

[10/6/11]  Kaiser Family Foundation:  Implementing Health Insurance Exchanges: State Profiles

[10/6/11]  National Business Group on Health:  Communicating with Employees about Preventive Services: Tips and Techniques

[10/5/11]  Medill Reports:  “Rising health insurance costs squeeze small employers, employees

[10/5/11]  The Washington Post:  “Mix Obamacare and Paul Ryan’s plan to get a better safety net for Americans

[10/5/11]  Principal Financial Group:

[10/5/11]  The Vanguard Group:  Six key survey findings: Gauging attitudes about target-date funds from plan sponsors and consultants

[10/5/11]  Center for Retirement Research at Boston College:  Comparing Wealth in Retirement: State-Local Versus Private-Sector Workers

[10/5/11]  Fox Business:  “Five Fixes for Your Own Fiscal Year

[10/4/11]  Plan Sponsor:  “Average Cost of U.S. Health Coverage Per Employee Is Expected to Cross the 10K Threshold

[10/4/11]  Reuters (via Employee Benefit Adviser):  “US health benefits recommendations coming October 7

[10/4/11]  U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:  “Changing Landscape of Employment-based Retirement Benefits

[10/4/11]  Center for Retirement Research at Boston College:  Do Low-Income Workers Benefit from 401(k) Plans? [Working Paper]

[10/4/11]  Human Resource Executive Online:  “Redefining Defined Contributions

[10/4/11]  Forbes:  “Triple Threats to Retirement

[10/4/11]  Journal of Accountancy:  “IRS Updates, Clarifies Travel Allowances, Reinstates High-Low Method

[10/3/11]  U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:  National Compensation Survey: Employee Benefits in the United States, March 2011

[10/3/11]  American Bankers Association:  Health Care Brokerage and the ACA: Perspectives on Healthcare from the ABA’s HSA Council

[10/3/11]  Kaiser Family Foundation Issue Brief:  “Medigap Reform: Setting the Context

[10/3/11]  Mercer:  “Mercer Workplace Survey™ reveals sharply lower economic outlook yet greater commitment to retirement” [Press Release]

[10/3/11]  Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies:  The “Perfect” 401(k) Plan: An actionable strategy informed by research and focused on results [White Paper]

[10/3/11]  Business Insider [Blog]:  “Don’t Fumble Your Retirement Planning

[10/3/11]  The Wall Street Journal:  “A Wish List for Retirement Funds

[10/3/11]  Congressional Budget Office Director’s Blog:  “Some Context for Thinking About Deficit Reduction: Social Security and Major Health Care Programs

Updated 10/31/11