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The BenefitsLink Newsletter

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April 18, 2000

Hardship Withdrawals, Step by Step (PDF)
Excerpt: "Having this optional feature ... can help a plan satisfy the nondiscrimination tests and boost the deferral levels for highly compensated employees. IRS regulations governing hardship withdrawals, however, are complex." (Milliman & Robertson, Inc.)

401(k) Withdrawal Checklist (PDF)
Neat form! (Milliman & Robertson, Inc.)

General Electric Increases Pension Payments to 134,000 Retirees
Excerpt: "GE will increase its pension benefit payments to more than 134,000 eligible retirees effective May 1, 2000, GE Chairman John F. Welch announced." (Market News Publishing)

New issue online of the Pension & Benefits Update email newsletter by Tax Analysts: April 17, 2000
(Tax Analysts)

Productivity Gains Could Ease Baby Boom Retirement Crunch
Excerpt: "The equilibrium between production and consumption (and the equilibrium that will assure share values) can be maintained if we find a way to produce more goods and services when needed." (American Academy of Actuaries)

Tweaking the Benefits Accounting Rules (PDF)
By Adrienne LaBombarde. Excerpt: "This article discusses some of the recent developments in the benefits accounting rules, including changes affecting defined contribution plans with participant-directed accounts, pending positions on stock issued to employees, and advice from regulators on disclosures of material plan amendments." (Milliman & Robertson, Inc.)

APPWP Urges Changes to Bankruptcy Reform Bill
Excerpt: "APPWP is asking for [Senator Orrin Hatch's] help in removing and clarifying certain additional provisions of H.R. 833 relating to retirement plan bankruptcy protections to ensure that the final conference agreement furthers rather than undermines the central goal of federal pension policy--to safeguard the retirement security of American workers. " (Association of Private Pension and Welfare Plans)

Proxy Advisor Backs IBM Shareholder Pension Proposal
Excerpt: "Proxy Monitor, a proxy voting advisor to institutional investors, on Monday became the second such advisor to recommend that IBM investors vote in favor of a shareholder proposal to require the computer maker offer all employees the same choice in their pension plans." (New York Times; free registration required)

Employee Class Action Lawsuit Brought Against SBC Communications Inc.; Billion Dollar Damages?
Excerpt: "Sprenger & Lang, PLLC announces that 18 current and former SBC Communications Inc. employees filed a $1.15 billion class action lawsuit in federal district court today in Los Angeles, accusing SBC, one of the nation's largest telecommunications companies, of improperly manipulating their 401(k) accounts for corporate gain." (PRNewswire)

High Court Hears Bank Trustee's Bid to Sue on Retirement Fund Law
Excerpt: "The Supreme Court on Monday heard oral arguments in a case that questions whether an employee benefit plan can invoke the Employee Retirement Income Security Act to sue an investment broker/dealer for funds lost on a bad investment." (American Banker)

Third Circuit Upholds Conviction Of Executive Who Embezzled From Profit-Sharing Plan
Excerpt: "The Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has upheld the conviction and sentence of a company executive who embezzled funds from the firm's profit-sharing plan to pay the operating expenses of three failing companies that he owned. The case is U.S. v. Helbling." (Spencernet)

Ninth Circuit Dismisses ERISA, Antitrust, RICO Claims Against 1,600 Health Care Providers
Excerpt: "The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has affirmed the dismissal of a plaintiff's claims under ERISA, antitrust law, and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) against approximately 1,600 mental health care providers. The case is Simon v. Value Behavioral Health, Inc." (Spencernet)

Severance Payment Received Under Retirement Program Not Excludable From Gross Income
Excerpt: "A lump sum payment made to a taxpayer under his employer's retirement program was in the nature of severance pay and therefore was not excludable from the taxpayer's gross income under IRC Sec. 104(a)(2). This was the decision of the U.S. Tax Court in Metelski v. Commissioner." (Spencernet)

IRS to Review New Comparability Rules
Excerpt: "We believe that the changes proposed by the IRS will not result in older workers receiving larger benefits. Contributions that vary by age can hurt employee morale and will be avoided by employers. Also, the proposed changes to the new comparability rules will work to the detriment of the very people IRS believes it will be helping--people who work for small businesses." (Louis Kravitz & Associates, Inc.)

The Best CEOs
Excerpt: "Our second annual selection of the top 50 CEOs-the business leaders who are making their companies great, their shareholders rich, and the world a better place." (Worth Online)

CEOs Not Feeling Real Pain on Their Options Yet
Excerpt: "Don't start crying yet for CEOs whose stock options got mauled in the market's dive of the past month. Many have a long way to go before they start feeling real pain." (Graef Crystal, on Bloomberg.com)

How to Coach the Best From Your Employees
Excerpt: "Would-be coaches often focus on the big stuff (like annual reviews). But it's really the day-to-day stuff that gets between you and your employees." (Wall Street Journal)

Health-Insurance Costs Weigh on Texas Government Workers
Excerpt: "Rising health-care costs shouldn't be passed along to state employees because salaries have stagnated for years, said Burnett, a state employee for 17 years." (Austin Statesman-American)

Full Text of Debate and Legislative History for Worker Economic Opportunity Act (S. 2323)
"A bill (S. 2323) to amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to clarify the treatment of stock options under the Act." (Association of Private Pension and Welfare Plans)

REPAIR Team Evaluates of Aetna-Texas Agreement
Excerpt: "A sweetheart deal, not a sea change -- that is the most accurate way to describe the substance of the Assurance of Voluntary Compliance (AVC) signed between Aetna and the state of Texas." (news.excite.com)

Integrating Behavioral Healthcare into Managed Care Settings (PDF)
Excerpt: "This article explores some of the reasons behind the trend towards the integration of behavioral healthcare services. By examining some of the financial, risk, and structural issues related to integration under managed care, this article may help employers understand the various factors that play a role in the emerging environment." (Milliman & Robertson, Inc.)

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