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The BenefitsLink Newsletter -
Retirement Plans Edition
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May 3, 2002 - 11,626 subscribers
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Trend Toward Cash Balance Pension Plans Among Largest U.S. Companies Slows Considerably
Press release. Excerpt: "The pace at which large companies are making the switch to so-called hybrid pension plans appears to have slowed considerably. Thirty-three percent of the Fortune 100 companies offer employees hybrid pension plans, a slight increase from 32 hybrids for the same group in 2000. Fifty percent currently offer a traditional defined benefit plan, down from 52 over the same two-year period, according to a new analysis by Watson Wyatt Worldwide." (Watson Wyatt via Yahoo! News)

Opinion: IRS Hands PEOs a Setback on Retirement Plan Rules
Excerpt: "The decision leaves PEOs and their client employers with two hard choices-converting to a [multiple employer] plan, or forcing client employers to operate their own plans. Each of these options will create major problems for PEOs and employers who use their services." (Center for a Changing Workforce)

401(k) Reform: Is the Market Correcting Itself?
Excerpt: "Companies such as Lucent, Mellon Financial and AOL Time Warner are already fixing potential trouble spots, such as restrictions on company stock. These actions could sap some of the momentum for political reform, which in itself is good news for 401(k) investors. The caveat is that for now, employers are moving cautiously on one of the areas in most urgent need of reform: giving workers advice about how to invest." (TheStreet.com)

What Happens to Your 401(k) If Your Employer Goes Bankrupt
Excerpt: "If your employer declares bankruptcy, all of your contributions that were safely in the plan prior to the bankruptcy filing are protected. Likewise, all vested employer contributions are protected. In some cases, unvested employer contributions may become fully vested if your employer lays off a large number of employees within a year ... That said, there are two circumstances in which you may not receive all the money you thought was due you." (mPower Cafe)

Washington State Firefighters, Police Push for Law Boosting Benefits in Event of Fund Surplus
Excerpt: "The initiative is the latest round in the battle between the Legislature and employee groups over pensions. Unions have sought to improve benefits, guarantee a stronger voice in setting pension policy, and assuring that surpluses will not be spent for other government purposes." (Spokesman-Review.com)

IRA Distribution, Beneficiary Rules Finally Clarified by IRS
Excerpt: "This article is not exhaustive, but looks at some rules most likely to affect the broad population: newly issued distribution tables, used to calculate required minimum withdrawals for IRA holders 70-1/2 and older; clarification of beneficiary-naming rules; clarification of the reporting requirements of IRA custodians to both IRA holders and the IRS; and new deadlines for naming designated beneficiaries." (mPower Cafe)

Union Pension Plans Using Their Shareholder Clout to Push for Audit Reforms
Excerpt: "Organized labor has emerged as one of the most energetic shareholder activists this year, with demands that major U.S. corporations protect the integrity of their financial audits." (Washington Times)

Sex and 401(k) Plans
Excerpt: "[Courts have ruled that, under DB plans,] a man and a woman with equal earnings histories should receive equal monthly pension benefits. In contrast, 401(k) plans do not generally offer annuities; they provide lump-sum payments ... Retirees who want to annuitize the lump sums must take the money to an insurance company [and buy] a single premium individual annuity (SPIA) [which] will provide smaller benefits to women and larger benefits to men than would defined benefit plans." (Center for Retirement Research at Boston College)

(Following items are in both editions of the BenefitsLink Newsletter)

Benefits Redesign: Prescription for Recovery
Excerpt: "Baseline efforts include redesigning health and welfare coverage and retirement plans to reflect employer cost pressures ... as well as streamlining overall plan administration with the aid of advanced technology. For employers that dare pick more than the lowest-hanging fruit from the money-savings tree, meaningful forward progress lies in the promise of subrogation and management of integrated disability, pharmacy benefits, chronic disease and behavioral health care expenses." (BenefitNews.com)

Tuning In To Next-Gen Employees: What Will Workers Demand In Five Years?
Excerpt: "To be better prepared for the next crop of workers, we must start thinking about kids who are still in school-- and learn in particular how they perceive information technology. Why look at this generation now? Although changes undoubtedly will occur by the time we begin hiring these young people in four years or so, studies show that baby boomers and Gen Xers have been significantly influenced by their experiences growing up." (Optimize)

Arbitration Often Costly, Study Finds
Excerpt: "Resolving disputes through mandatory arbitration may cost significantly more than using the court system, according to a study issued [Wednesday May 1, 2002] by the public interest group Public Citizen." (Washington Post)

Mandatory Arbitration-- Boon, Bust, or Both for Employers?
Excerpt: "In the past few years, many employers have adopted employment agreements that oblige employees to use alternative dispute resolution procedures rather than file lawsuits in the case of an employment complaint." (BLR.com)

Stock Plan Trade Association Comments on Application of FICA Tax to Stock Option Exercise (PDF)
Excerpt: "If adopted, the Proposed Regulations would treat the holder of an incentive stock option ('ISO') or an option granted pursuant to a section 423 employee stock purchase plan ('ESPP') as having received a payment of 'wages' at the time of exercise of such an option for purposes of the Federal Insurance Contributions Act ('FICA') and the Federal Unemployment Tax Act ('FUTA'). The NASPP opposes the treatment of statutory stock option spread at exercise as wages for FICA and FUTA purposes." (National Association of Stock Plan Professionals)

Greenspan: Expense Stock Options
Excerpt: "Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan on Friday argued that in the effort to deal with the problems raised by the costly collapse of Enron Corp., regulations should be changed to force companies to treat lucrative stock options for top executives as a business expense." (AP via StarTribune.com)

Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings - Post a Help Wanted Ad
Manager, Benefits Planning & Analysis for Anheuser-Busch Companies, Inc.
in MO
Health Benefit Analyst for Conrad M. Siegel, Inc. Actuaries/Benefit Consultants
in PA
Plan Administrator for Pension Plan Professionals, Inc.
in FL
Actuarial Analyst for USI Consulting Group
in NY
Senior Plan Administrator for Growing Third Party Administrator
in CA, OH

Newly Posted Conferences (Post Yours!)
Form 5500 Seminarin OH on May 15, 2002
presented by The Central Ohio Chapter, ISCEBS
Being a Retirement Plan Fiduciary - What You Need to Know Now!in CA on May 22, 2002
presented by Morrison & Foerster, LLP, Union Bank of California, Business & Trust Services, and Independent Retirement Plan Services, LLC
401(k) Sales Summitin AZ on February 27, 2003
presented by ASPA

Newly Posted Press Releases
ERIC Urges President to Oppose Mental Health Parity Mandate (The ERISA Industry Committee (ERIC))
Member Requests Spur National Association of Government Defined Contribution Administrators to Schedule May 8 NAGDCAST (NAGDCA)

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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.