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The BenefitsLink Newsletter

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April 7, 2000

Teachers' Pension Fund Studies Divestment of Tobacco Holdings
Excerpt: "In preparation for possible unloading of its tobacco holdings, the investment committee of the $110-billion state teachers' pension fund directed its chief investment officer Wednesday to draft a divestment policy." (Los Angeles Times)

Slow Progress Made on Patients Rights Bill
Excerpt: "While congressional negotiators have given up hopes of working out a deal on a patients' bill of rights by the mid-April break, all sides report slow progress on one of the most difficult and contentious matters before Congress." (Reuters via news.excite.com)

Benefits for Federal Employees: Legislative Update
Excerpt: "Here is the latest look at pay and benefits bills affecting federal employees that are pending before Congress." (GovExec.com)

8th Circuit: Denial Of Death Benefits To Wife Of Deceased Employee Was Not Arbitrary
Excerpt: "A company's decision to deny discretionary death benefits under its pension plan to the wife of a deceased employee because she did not meet the financial need requirement for an award of those benefits was not arbitrary and capricious. This was the ruling of the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Sahulka v. Lucent Technologies, Inc." (Spencernet)

Managing PBGC Premiums
Excerpt: "If you have a fairly well-funded defined benefit plan, you may be wondering about the increasing premium checks you're sending to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) each year. Here are some ideas on how to manage these premiums for significant savings." (Watson Wyatt)

Groups Split Over Government's Medical Privacy Regulations
Excerpt: "The federal government is moving closer to establishing the first national standards to protect the privacy of individuals' medical records, but reactions are mixed ... Consumer and physician groups argue that the proposed guidelines do not go far enough ... [M]edical industry groups that rely on patient information for various purposes fear they will lose access to important data bases." (Medscape; free registration required)

Long Term Care Insurance Sales Double Over Six Years
Excerpt: "More employers are offering the policies. The employer-sponsored market grew by 40 percent as of June 1998 to about 800,000 total policies." (insure.com)

DOL Finalizes Revised Form 5500
Excerpt: "[Who's Affected:] Sponsors of most qualified defined benefit plans must file the revised Form 5500 for the 1999 reporting year and all later years. Sponsors of governmental plans and non-electing church plans do not file Form 5500. This publication focuses on the major changes affecting defined benefit pension plan reporting." (CIGNA's Pension Analyst (Defined Benefit Plan Version))

DOL Finalizes Revised Form 5500
Excerpt: "[Who's Affected:] Sponsors of most qualified defined contribution plans and some 403(b) programs must file the revised Form 5500 for the 1999 plan year and all later years. Sponsors of governmental plans and non-electing church plans do not file Form 5500. This publication focuses on the major changes affecting defined contribution plan reporting." (CIGNA's Pension Analyst)

Income Tax Withholding Updates for 2000: State Rates and Revised Rollover Distribution Notice
Excerpt: "State income tax withholding requirements differ from state to state ... This communication summarizes the withholding requirements for qualified plan distributions from those states that have made changes and also provides a reference tool designed to give you the most recent withholding requirements for each of the 50 states ... [and] summarizes the recent changes made to the Rollover Distribution Notice that must be given to [qualified plan] participants and beneficiaries." (CIGNA Retirement & Investment Services)

The Online Pension Activist - Lynda French Uses the Web to Fight for Employees' Rights
Excerpt: "Lynda French didn't plan on becoming an employee-rights activist. But then IBM got in the way of her retirement." (money.com)

Looking to the Future: A New Perspective on the Social Security Problem (PDF)
Excerpt: "... we emphasize that prompt action to address the financial difficulties facing Social Security is important and that such action should be taken in the context of a coordinated national policy incorporating retirement savings as a whole. Social Security reforms that adversely affect savings outside the Social Security system should be avoided." (Association of Private Pension and Welfare Plans)

IRS Makes Mid-Year Election Changes for Cafeteria Plans Easier than Under 1997 Regulations
Excerpt: "Employers may elect to rely on the new final and proposed regulations currently, but the final regulations must be followed for cafeteria plan years beginning on or after January 1, 2001. Therefore, this year, employers will need to assess their current administrative practices and their cafeteria plan documents." (Kilpatrick Stockton LLP)

Health Plans Seek to Address Consumer Ire
Excerpt: "Health maintenance organizations, part of a bold experiment in medical care launched about two decades ago, are desperately trying to reinvent themselves in the face of unprecedented consumer backlash and a vastly changed economy. The powerful forces wreaking havoc on HMOs have in turn begun to affect hospitals and the nursing home industry, where a wave of bankruptcies has already begun amid predictions of many more to come." (Los Angeles Times)

Clinton to Sign Bill Eliminating Retirement Earnings Limit for Social Security Recipients
Excerpt: "President Clinton on Friday will sign into law a bill that removes the Social Security retirement earnings limit and will unveil an Internet service for Americans who want to get an online estimate of future retirement benefits." (CNN)

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