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April 6, 2012 Get Health & Welfare News  |  Advertise  |  Unsubscribe  |  Past Issues  |  Search

Employee Benefits Jobs

Defined Benefits Requirements Analyst
for Milliman in TX

Retirement Plan Administrator
for Valley Forge Pension Management, Inc. in PA

Retirement Services Manager
for Doherty Employer Services in MN

Account Manager- Employee Benefits
for SKCG Group in NY

Director, Actuary - Group Disability Pricing
for Prudential in NJ

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Webcasts and Conferences

Five Timely Employee Benefits Challenges: What Employers Need to Know and Do Webcast
Nationwide on April 25, 2012 presented by McDonald Hopkins

Employee Benefits Roundtable: Fee and Expense Disclosure Requirements Recorded Seminar
Nationwide on April 20, 2012 presented by Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP

Voluntary Fiduciary Correction Program and COBRA Workshops
in California on April 26, 2012 presented by U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)

The Basics and More! Workshop
in Florida on May 23, 2012 presented by U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)

Work, Health, and Wellbeing: Strategic Solutions for Integrating Wellness and Occupational Safety and Health in the Workplace
in Massachusetts on September 17, 2012 presented by Harvard School of Public Health Center for Continuing Professional Education

401(k) Rekon Advisor Symposium - Atlanta
in Georgia on May 3, 2012 presented by 401(k) Rekon

401(k) Rekon Advisor Symposium - Minneapolis
in Minnesota on May 3, 2012 presented by 401(k) Rekon

"Affiliated Service Groups: How Much Do You Know About Them?" Web Seminar
Nationwide on May 1, 2012 presented by SunGard Relius


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[Official Guidance]
PBGC Disaster Relief Announcements 12-03, 12-04, 12-05 and 12-06
Disaster Relief Announcements relating to PBGC deadlines, issued April 3, 2012, in response to severe storms in West Virginia, Tennessee and Indiana. (PBGC)


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[Guidance Overview]
Recent Sixth Circuit Decision Makes It Tougher to Defend Plan Investment Decisions
"These holdings by the Sixth Circuit distinguish it from the rulings of other Circuit Courts.... ESOP fiduciaries ... may have to wait to rely on the presumption [of prudence] until there is a fully developed evidentiary record. Consequently, ESOP fiduciaries should be prepared to demonstrate prudence and reasonableness in their decisions surrounding the ESOP's investment in company stock.... The Sixth Circuit [also] held that the ERISA Section 404(c) safe harbor defense does not apply in this case because it does not relieve fiduciaries of the responsibility to monitor investments." (McDonald Hopkins LLC)

Four Suggested Focus Areas to Complete a Prudent Fiduciary Review for the Selection and Monitoring of Target Date Funds
"This paper provides a practical fiduciary approach to analyzing target date funds by suggesting that plan fiduciaries focus on four specific areas: risk, risk-adjusted returns and expenses, underlying funds and reliability." (Securian Financial Services)

Union Pickets Tropicana Over Pension Termination
"Thousands of workers from the main Atlantic City casino union picketed outside and around the Tropicana Casino and Resort on Thursday night, trying to fend off an attempt ... to end their pension plan. The casino is terminating its employees' pension plan in favor of direct cash payments to workers. (CNBC)

Translate Retirement Concerns Into Action
"When even short-term planning is devalued, the notion of pausing to envision what you'll need years or decades from now is almost impossible, said [a consultant.] ... [A recent study conducted by the Society of Actuaries] ... noted increased concerns about keeping up with rising retirement costs, including health care.... just 35 percent of preretirees said they have a plan for how much they will spend in retirement and where the money will come from. Even among retirees, only 57 percent said they have a plan, though that number has risen from 44 percent in 2005." (Chicago Tribune)

Employer Barred from Modifying Collective Bargaining Agreement to Evade Duty to Contribute to Pension Fund
"Although the Participation Agreement stated that any agreement "that purports to prospectively reduce the contribution rate" payable to the fund by the employer would be invalid, the employer argued the word "prospectively" is ambiguous because it could reasonably be interpreted to allow for immediate action. In other words, the new CBA did not eliminate the duty to contribute prospectively; it did so immediately. This, the court ruled, was not a reasonable interpretation of the participation agreement, and indeed it defied "common sense and logic."" (Wolters Kluwer Law & Business / CCH)

Oliver Wyman Releases Data to DOL on IRA Fiduciary Costs
"Long-awaited data showed a new standard could limit retirement investing services ... Brokers ... are 'not opposed to being held accountable' under a fiduciary standard, but the concern they have, and the reason they want EBSA to revise its rule proposal, is 'that under ERISA, unlike under securities laws, if the broker-dealer is a fiduciary then they would be prohibited from giving the investment services they give today' to IRA investors." (AdvisorOne)

Retirement Reform II: Essential and Practical Steps to Take in 2012
"43 states have now adopted some kind of pension reform since 2009.... Retirement reform efforts are best grounded in stronger probabilities, instead of false hopes or hysteria. [This article has] detailed the necessary steps to put pensions and OPEB in a more stable condition — before the next cyclical recession strikes sometime later in this decade. Many of these steps have yet to be taken." (Governing)

Retirement Portfolios Recovering, Investors Still Shook Up
"Most advisors say their clients' retirement portfolios have largely rebounded, and 10% say that portfolios are in even better shape now than before the recession. But even so, the biggest worry, for boomer clients at least, is the possibility of another significant stock market decline, according to the majority of the advisors (60%) surveyed." (Financial Planning)

A New Chapter of Pension Plan Woes
"Given the embattled state of many pension plans, workers and retirees relying on these plans for steady income may need to do some detective work.... [In order to] gain a basic understanding of the plan's financial health, review benefit statements for accuracy and stay abreast of developments in your employer's industry. Those steps can at least give you advance warning that an income stream is running dry. Here's a look at the twists and turns that may affect your benefits, along with tips for pension sleuthing." (Kiplinger)

Baby Boomers vs. Generation Y
"[T]oday's 20-some year olds (Generation Y, as they are called), have seen the struggles of their baby boomer parents and do not wish to experience the same fate. The good news is: they want to prepare for retirement; the bad news is: they are not sure how." (National Center for Policy Analysis)

How Important Is Asset Allocation To Financial Security In Retirement?
"This paper ... provides a stylized example of the tradeoff between returns and time spent in the labor force[,] ... uses data from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) on pre-retirees aged 51-64 to see how the gap between retirement needs and retirement resources is affected by working longer, taking out a reverse mortgage, controlling spending, and shifting all assets to equities with no risk[, and] uses a simple dynamic programming model to calculate a risk-adjusted measure of the value for the average household of moving from a typical conservative portfolio to an optimal portfolio. The answer from all three exercises is the same: the focus on asset allocation is misplaced." (Boston College, Center for Retirement Research)

Pension Funding Index, March 2012
"The funded status of the 100 largest corporate defined benefit pension plans improved by $58 bil.lion during March 2012.... The funded ratio improved from 82.0% at the end of February to 85.1% at the end of March.... The funded status improvement during the quarter was the largest first quarter calendar year increase (in dollars) ever recorded in the 12-year history of the Milliman100 PFI (and third best quarter ever)." (Milliman )

Institutionalizing 408b-2 Compliance in Financial Service Firms: New Responsibilities for the Securities Compliance Professional
"Because 408b-2, in particular, is a prohibited transaction rule, ... financial service firms have a huge economic stake in not just making the initial disclosure [under the DOL regulations], but also in making sure that permanent compliance procedures are established, implemented and audited on a routine basis. A number of firms are also beginning to take a closer look at their myriad of revenues streams to make sure that not only are they reported correctly, but that there is a Prohibited Transaction Exemption that otherwise permits the revenue." (Business of Benefits)

[Opinion]
The Fiduciary Exemption That Swallows the Rule
"[T]he proposed rule doesn't appear to be much better than the current rule in helping rein in the bad conduct it's aimed at curbing.... [I]f (1) the broker represents that it isn't an ERISA fiduciary, (2) the broker isn't an ERISA fiduciary under either ERISA sections 3(21)(A)(i) or 3(21)(A)(iii), (3) the broker isn't an RIA, and (4) the broker doesn't provide individualized advice that's understood to be in connection with investment or management decisions with respect to plan assets, then it won't be considered as providing ERISA-defined 'investment advice' and therefore won't be an ERISA-defined 'fiduciary.'" (Morningstar)

[Opinion]
The Great Compromise to the Fiduciary Debate
"The best way to resolve the fiduciary dilemma lies in subjecting both RIAs and broker/dealers to the 'sole interest' fiduciary standard of care found in ERISA." (Morningstar)

Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

[Guidance Overview]
Can an Employer Require an Employee to Make Up Time Taken as FMLA Leave?
"[R]egulations (and several court decisions) make two general principles very clear: 1) employers cannot engage in conduct that discourages or otherwise 'chills' an employee from requesting or taking FMLA leave; and 2) employers must provide privileges and benefits to employees who take FMLA leave in the same manner they offer benefits to those on non-FMLA leave.... [R]equiring employees to make up FMLA leave is fraught with problems and invites litigation, as a court would very likely find that such a policy causes employees to refrain from requesting FMLA leave" (Franczek Radelet P.C.)

[Guidance Overview]
EEOC Issues Rule Amending Its ADEA Regulation
"The amended regulation confirms that (1) the plaintiff bears the burden of 'isolating and identifying the specific employment practice' that allegedly causes any observed statistical disparities, and (2) the employer bears the burdens of production and persuasion to demonstrate the RFOA defense.... The regulation also ... provides a nonexhaustive list of considerations that are relevant in determining whether a practice is based on a reasonable factor other than age." (Morgan Lewis )

[Guidance Overview]
Emerging Growth Companies From Certain Compensation-Related Reporting Requirements
"[T]he JOBS Act makes it easier for emerging growth companies to go public by providing them with relief from certain executive compensation reporting requirements otherwise required by the Dodd-Frank Act. This update covers only the executive compensation provisions[.]" (Practical Law Company)

Same-S.ex Health Benefit Coverage Denial Ruled Discriminatory by Federal District Court in San Francisco
"The denial of insurance coverage to the same-s.ex spouse of a federal court employee in San Francisco was an act of discrimination, the court's chief judge has ruled in an order that entitles the employee to compensation for the costs of private insurance. The payments may have to wait, however, while courts consider the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act[.]" (San Francisco Chronicle)

Press Releases



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