What's New - September 2005

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What's new at EBRI this month:


September 2005 EBRI Issue Brief - "401(k) Plan Asset Allocation, Account Balances, and Loan Activity in 2004"

September 2005 EBRI Notes - "Retirement Plan Participation: Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) Data"


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.

New Social Security Research From EBRI -- A far greater portion of all current and future Americans would have a higher initial retiree benefit from the current Social Security program than from an individual account plan if the existing $90,000 wage cap was eliminated and all local, state, and federal workers were brought into the program to fill the projected funding deficit, a new EBRI analysis of various Social Security options shows.  But the study also shows that more of today’s younger workers would have a higher initial retiree benefit from an individual account plan than if nothing is done to reform the currently projected underfunded program. Press Release. Futher information can be found in this supplemental material

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.

Government Performance and Accountability: Tax Expenditures Represent a Substantial Federal Commitment and Need To Be Reexamined. GAO-05-690, September 23.  Highlights.

Federal Pensions: Judicial Survivors' Annuities System Costs. GAO-05-955, September 16.  Highlights.

Mutual Fund Industry: SEC's Revised Examination Approach Offers Potential Benefits, but Significant Oversight Challenges Remain. GAO-05-415, August 17.  Highlights.

Federal Employees Health Benefits Program: Competition and Other Factors Linked to Wide Variation in Health Care Prices. GAO-05-856, August 15.  Highlights.

Prescription Drugs: Price Trends for Frequently Used Brand and Generic Drugs from 2000 through 2004. GAO-05-779, August 15.  Highlights.

Social Security Numbers: Federal and State Laws Restrict Use of SSNs, yet Gaps Remain, by Barbara D. Bovbjerg, Director, Education, Workforce, and Income Security Issues, before the New York State Assembly Standing Committees on Consumer Affairs and Protection, Government Operations, and Banks, in New York City. GAO-05-1016T, September 15.  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.

[9/30/05] Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association:  "Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association Consumer Survey Shows High Rate of Satisfaction with HSAs, Cites Increased Reliance on Decision-Support Tools"

[9/30/05] Buck Consultants For Your Information:  "IRS Provides Guidance on HSA Comparability Rules"

[9/30/05] S.1783, Pension Security and Transparency Act of 2005:  “A bill to amend the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 and the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to reform the pension funding rules, and for other purposes.”  Bill Summary & Status Information

[9/30/05] Morningstar:  "Fiduciary Focus: The Pension Consultant Shell Game"

[9/29/05] BenefitNews Connect:  "Free Online Tool Helps Predict Medical Expenses"

[9/29/05] The Adviser:  "Wellness Tools Get Pre-Tax Blessing"

[9/29/05] On Wall Street Magazine:  "Look What’s Up With the 401(k)"

[9/29/05] Investment Advisor:  "The Tax Advisor: Assessing the Roth 401(k)"

[9/28/05] Buck Consultants:  Health Care Is Biggest Business Cost Concern, New Buck Consultants Survey Finds

[9/28/05] Reuters (via Business Insurance):  "U.S. Senators Agree on Form of Private Pension Bill"

[9/28/05] Business Insurance:  "401(k) Is Main Retirement Plan for Most Big Firms"

[9/28/05] Watson Wyatt Insider:  "Defined Benefit Plans Become Significantly More Valuable"

[9/28/05] Principal Financial Group:  The Principal DB(k) Fact Sheet

[9/27/05] Congressional Budget Office:  A Guide to Understanding the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation

[9/27/05] Chicago Consulting Actuaries:  Retirement Plans -- Current Legislative Outlook, September 2005

[9/27/05] Stateline.org:  "Pensions Pose Time Bombs for Budgets"

[9/27/05] Principal Financial Group:  "The Principal 10 Best Companies for Employee Financial Security"

[9/27/05] Dallas Business Journal:  "Defusing an IRS Time Bomb - The World Is About to Change for Execs Receiving ‘Non-Qualified’ Compensation" [Opinion]

[9/26/05] The Commonwealth Fund Issue Brief:  "Entrances and Exits: Health Insurance Churning, 1998-2000"

[9/26/05] National Center for Policy Analysis Brief Analysis:  "Crisis of the Uninsured: 2005 Update"

[9/26/05] Internal Revenue Service:  Employee Plans News [Volume 5/Fall 2005]

[9/26/05] American Benefits Council:  Promises To Keep: The True Nature of the Risks to the Defined Benefit Pension System

[9/26/05] Journal of Financial Planning:  "Reality Retirement Planning:  A New Paradigm for an Old Science," by Ty Bernicke

[9/23/05] Internal Revenue Service:  "Retirement Plans Can Make Loans, Hardship Distributions to Katrina Victims" [News Release]

[9/23/05] Business Insurance:  "Congress OKs Katrina Retirement Plan Relief"

[9/23/05] U.S. House Education & the Workforce Committee:  "Workforce Republicans Introduce Pension Legislation to Provide Financial Flexibility for Displaced Gulf Coast Workers"

[9/23/05] Business Week Online:  "Tapping Your 401(k) in an Emergency"

[9/23/05] Buck Consultants:  "Health Care Cost Increases Are Slowing, New Buck Consultants Survey Finds"

[9/23/05] Entrepreneur.com:  "The Benefits of Cafeteria Plans"

[9/22/05] U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:  Employer Costs for Employee Compensation--June 2005

[9/22/05] The Commonwealth Fund Issue Brief:  “Choice” in Health Care: What Do People Really Want?

[9/22/05] United Benefit Advisors:  National Survey Results: 2005 UBA/Ingenix Employer Opinion Survey & Health Plan Survey

[9/22/05] Employee Benefit News:  "401(k) Matches Ease Pain of Benefit Cuts"

[9/22/05] Congressional Research Service:  Older Workers: Employment and Retirement Trends [updated September 14, 2005]

[9/20/05] Workforce Management:  "Large Companies Want Employees to Share Health Care Burden"

[9/20/05] TIAA-CREF Institute Trends and Issues:  "Retiree Health Care: Individuals Picking Up Bigger Tab," by Marilyn Moon

[9/20/05] Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate:  H.R.2830, Pension Protection Act of 2005

[9/20/05] Watson Wyatt Insider:  "Senate HELP Committee Approves Defined Benefit Security Act"

[9/19/05] Council for Affordable Health Insurance:  "CAHI Applauds Sen. Allen: Legislation Will Make Long-Term Care Insurance Affordable"

[9/19/05] S.1706, Long-Term Care Act of 2005:  “A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide that distributions from a section 401(k) plan or a section 403(b) contract shall not be includible in gross income to the extent used to pay long-term care insurance premiums.”  Bill Summary & Status Information.

[9/19/05] The Segal Company Capital Checkup:  "Erie County Update: A U.S. Supreme Court Decision in Unrelated Case Causes Federal Court to Review Decision Reached in AARP v. EEOC"

[9/19/05] Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services:  Medicare Premiums and Deductibles for 2006 [Fact Sheet]

[9/19/05] Workforce Management:  "Being Healthy May Be Its Own Reward, But a Little Cash Can Also Help Keep Workers Fit"

[9/16/05] Business Insurance:  "Delta Pension Loss Could Be Largest Ever for PBGC"

[9/16/05] Congressional Budget Office:  The Risk Exposure of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation

[9/16/05] The Segal Company Newsletter:  "Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage Marketing Begins October 1st: Implications for Plan Sponsors and Their Communications Needs"

[9/16/05] RAND Research Highlights:  "Health Information Technology: Can HIT Lower Costs and Improve Quality?"

[9/15/05] Kaiser Family Foundation:  Employer Health Benefits 2005 Annual Survey

[9/15/05] Health Affairs:  "What High-Deductible Plans Look Like: Findings From a National Survey of Employers, 2005"

[9/15/05] Congressional Research Service:  Pension Sponsorship and Participation: Summary of Recent Trends [Updated September 8, 2005]

[9/15/05] National Association of State Retirement Administrators:  Public Fund Survey Summary of Findings for FY 2004

[9/15/05] Milliman, Inc.:  Benefits Perspectives [Summer 2005]

[9/14/05] The 401(k) Company:  Focus on 401(k) 2005, Information and Ideas for 401(k) Decision-Makers [First Quarter 2005]

[9/14/05] Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate:  H.R.3304, Growing Real Ownership for Workers Act of 2005, As Introduced on July 14, 2005

[9/14/05] American Benefits Council:  Summary and Comparison of Defined Contribution Provisions in Pension Reform Bills

[9/13/05] Internal Revenue Service:  IRS Increases Mileage Rate Until Dec. 31, 2005

[9/13/05] U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions:  HELP Approves Sweeping Pension Reform Bill; Will Secure Retirements of Millions, Enzi Says

[9/13/05] Porter Wright Morris & Arthur LLP:  Allowing Participants to Decide When to Pay Taxes: New Roth 401(k) Contributions

[9/13/05] Business Insurance:  "Employers Predict Average Health Cost Hike of 6.4%"

[9/13/05] AISHealth.com:  "Innovation Needed to Sustain Momentum of CDH, Experts Say" [Reprinted from the July 8, 2005, issue of Inside Consumer-Directed Care]

[9/13/05] Mercer Human Resource Consulting:  GRIST Report: Immediate Employer Issues in Responding to Hurricane Katrina

[9/12/05] 401khelpcenter.com:  "IRS and Congress to Provide Hurricane Katrina Pension Relief Soon"

[9/12/05] Watson Wyatt Strategy@Work:  "New Retirement Realities: Five Ways Employers Can Benefit"

[9/9/05] American Express:  "New Ameriprise Retirement Services Survey Finds Financial Stress Still a Factor This 401(k) Day, Despite a Stronger Economy"

[9/9/05] The Seattle Times:  "Pensions At Heart of Boeing Walkout"

[9/9/05] Internal Revenue Service:  Treatment of Certain Amounts Paid to Section 170(c) Organizations under Certain Employer Leave-Based Donation Programs [Notice 2005-68]

[9/9/05] Milliman, Inc.:  Long-term Care Coverage: The Missing Element in the Employee Safety Net

[9/8/05] Business Insurance:  "CMS Extends Drug Subsidy Program Deadline"

[9/8/05] Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services:  Retiree Drug Subsidy Program [Updated 9/2/05]

[9/8/05] Internal Revenue Service:  Reporting Requirements for Dependent Care Assistance Programs

[9/8/05] Principal Financial Group:  "The American Dream Is Just a Dream for Vast Majority of American Workers, Says Principal Financial Well-Being Index"

[9/8/05] Center for American Progress:  Ensuring Retirement Income Security with Cash Balance Plans

[9/7/05] Business Insurance:  "Bill Proposes New PBGC Levy for Bankrupt Employers"

[9/7/05] Harvard Business School Working Knowledge:  "The Best Place for Retirement Funds"

[9/7/05] HR Policy Association:  "Quality Issues to Dominate Congressional Health Care Agenda"

[9/7/05] AISHealth.com:  "Proposed HSA Changes Could Boost Adoption, White House Advisor Says" [reprinted from the July 8, 2005, issue of Inside Consumer-Directed Care]

[9/6/05] Society of Actuaries:  Living to 100 and Beyond Monograph [Conference Papers from Symposium held January 12-14, 2005]

[9/6/05] MarketWatch:  "Roth 401(k) in 2006? Not That Likely - Employers Aren't Rushing to Offer New Retirement Perk"

[9/6/05] The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:  "Firms Move to Ease 401(k) Burden"

[9/6/05] Reuters (via Business Insurance):  "U.S. Judge Approves US Airways Pension Claims Deal"

[9/6/05] Chicago Consulting Actuaries:  HSA Guidebook Part 7: Distributions

[9/6/05] U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:  "Medical Plan Choices in Private Industry, 2005"

[9/2/05] U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:  "Medical Insurance Premiums and Establishment Size, 2005"

[9/2/05] U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:  "Employee Contributions to Employer-Provided Medical Plans by Bargaining Status, Private Industry, 2005"

[9/2/05] Kaiser Family Foundation:  USA Today/Kaiser Family Foundation/Harvard School of Public Health Health Care Costs Survey

[9/2/05] Managed Care Magazine:  "12 Disease Management Trends You Should Know About: The Industry Is Evolving, with a Nice Boost from Uncle Sam"

[9/2/05] Towers Perrin:  A Towers Perrin Proposal for Pension Funding Reform: Part III

[9/2/05] Profit Sharing/401(k) Council of America:  Survey of Defined Contribution Plan Participant Statements, 2005

[9/2/05] MarketWatch:  "Saving Solo: The Top 3 Retirement Plans for the Self-Employed"

[9/2/05] Milliman’s Client Action Bulletin:  "Eliminating Optional Forms of Pension Benefits"

[9/1/05] Profit Sharing/401(k) Council of America:  National 401(k) Day, September 6, 2005

[9/1/05] The Business Journal:  "Employees Still Eschewing 401(k) Plans"

[9/1/05] AISHealth.com:  "Legislators in Most States Have Cleared the Way for Health Savings Accounts" [Reprinted from the Aug. 19, 2005, issue of Inside Consumer-Directed Care]

[9/1/05] The Commonwealth Fund Issue Brief:  "Health and Productivity Among U.S. Workers"

[9/1/05] America’s Health Insurance Plans:  Individual Health Insurance: A Comprehensive Survey of Affordability, Access, and Benefits

[9/1/05] IRS Employee Plans News [Special Edition]:  "New Rev. Proc. Provides 90-Day Extension to Mass Submitter Deadline"


Updated 9/30/05