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The BenefitsLink Newsletter -
Retirement Plans Edition
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March 4, 2002 - 12,334 subscribers
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Floor Offset Plans Come Under Fire from Comptroller General in Enron Hearing
Excerpt: "Enron, in an unusual move, 'offset' the pension with the value of the ESOP accounts based on the price of the stock from 1996 to 2000, when it was trading in the $40 range. As a result, the phantom past values of the ESOPs permanently erased some of the pensions people had earned in earlier years." (Ellen Schultz of the Wall Street Journal, via MSNBC.com)

Bush Reiterates Call for Pension Reform
Excerpt: "Now, one issue that I am concerned about is that a company like right here cannot offer sound investment advice, third party advice to the workers -- because they're afraid to get sued. Now, that doesn't make any sense to me." (StarTribune.com)

DOL Finalizes Amendments to Several PT Exemptions to Cover IRAs, Keogh Plans
Excerpt: "As noted in the proposed amendment, after consultation with the Internal Revenue Service ... the Department determined that plans described in 4975(e)(1) of the Code are included within the scope of relief provided by certain class exemptions issued jointly by the Department and the Service." (U.S. Department of Labor, Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration)

DOL Finalizes Sept. 11 Terrorist Attack Amendment to Interest-Free Loan PT Exemption
Excerpt: "The amendment ... broadens the availability of PTE 80-26 to include certain interest-free loans to be used for a purpose incidental to the ordinary operations of a plan which arises in connection with difficulties encountered by the plan in liquidating, or otherwise accessing its assets, or accessing its data in a timely manner as a direct or indirect result of the September 11, 2001 disruption to the financial markets ... [if] such loans are repaid no later than January 9, 2002." (U.S. Department of Labor, Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration)

401 Chaos
Audio and video clips online, from February 28, 2002 show. Excerpt: "Paul Solman of WGBH Boston examines how your retirement saving plans may be affected by the collapse of Enron." (Online Newshour on PBS.org)

Opinion: Legislating Against Stupidity
Excerpt: "[T]he stock Enron employees were prevented from selling was essentially a bonus. And if companies are prevented from giving employees such rewards, everyone ends up getting penalized." (Salon.com)

Opinion: Protect Nest Eggs With a Hard Shell
Excerpt: "President Bush and his advisors have stared into the Enron abyss and have seen only a pothole. Their myopic view of the disaster has led them to recommend repairs to our retirement system that are less wrong than irrelevant.... There is not a shred of evidence that more freedom to sell shares would have helped matters. Almost 90% of the shares in the Enron 401(k) plan were subject to sale except during the brief lock-down that occurred after the stock had already collapsed." (Marc I. Machiz in the Los Angeles Times)

Employee Was Not Entitled To Pension Benefits Under Plans of Second, Separate Company
An employee of one company was not entitled to pension benefits under the plans maintained by a second, legally separate corporation because the first company never affirmatively adopted the plans. This was the decision of the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Lopriore v. Raleigh Cardiovascular & Thoracic, Inc., et al. (No. 99-1861). (Spencernet)

United Airlines ESOP Not Working as Well as Hoped
Excerpt: "While saving jobs at the outset, the eight-year-old plan has shown that giving employees seats on a board of directors doesn't mean they have the influence they want--and it doesn't give them a deep feeling of ownership that could promote worker unity and labor peace." (Chicago Sun-Times)

Witness List and Written Statements to Social Security Subcommittee Hearing on Proposed Improvements
February 28, 2002 hearing on 'Social Security Improvements for Women, Seniors, and Working Americans.' Witnesses include Anna Janis, United Seniors Association; Frank G. Atwater, National Association of Retired Federal Employees; Niesha Wolfe, Women Impacting Public Policy; Hans Riemer, Institute for America's Future; Nancy Mitchell Pfotenhauer, Independent Women's Forum; Joan Entmacher, National Women's Law Center; David C. John, Heritage Foundation. (U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Ways and Means, Subcommittee on Social Security)

Social Security Rethink
Excerpt: "But [Henry J. Aaron of the Brookings Institution] makes a point that keeps me agnostic about privatization. 'Make the investments through individual accounts and you increase the administrative costs to the point where it eliminates the difference in the implied rate of return. The greatest savings would come through a pooled investment fund, where administrative costs could be kept relatively low.'" (William Raspberry in the Washington Post)




Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings - Post a Help Wanted Ad
Director, Health & Welfare Benefits Administration for Tenet HealthSystem
in TX
Pension Sales for Sentry Insurance, A Mutual Company
in TX
Account Service Leader/Plan Administrator for INVESCO Retirement, Inc.
in GA



Newly Posted Press Releases (Post Yours!)
PERFORMAX Relocates to Accommodate Growth (PERFORMAX)

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Copyright 2002 BenefitsLink.com, Inc., but you may freely distribute this email newsletter in whole. This newsletter is edited by David Rhett Baker, J.D.