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The BenefitsLink Newsletter -
Retirement Plans Edition
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May 21, 2002 - 11,355 subscribers
Today's sponsor: Actuarial Systems Corporation

(Click on company name or banner to learn more.)


   For over 20 years ASC has provided complete automation for the
   pension office, including DC/401(k) and DB administration and
   valuation systems, as well as sophisticated Compliance Testing
   and DV Direct, a revolutionary solution for daily valuation
   functions.  All ASC Technical Support Members had experience as
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(Help BenefitsLink to provide this newsletter at no charge to you -- our sponsors pay our way. Remember to visit them periodically; we try to make sure their products and services will be of interest to you. Thanks! --Editor)

Judge: Keep Those Lump-Sum Pension Payments Coming from Amended Milwaukee Pension Plan
Excerpt: "The Milwaukee County pension board was ordered to continue making lump-sum payments to retirees who request them, despite concerns the ordinance creating the payment was enacted illegally.... The pension board's chairman last week had raised the possibility of halting further lump-sum payments until the legal questions are resolved. But under Monday's order, the payments must continue at least until another court hearing is held ..." (StarTribune.com)

Plan Sponsors Increasing Use of Money Managers for Participants' Accounts
Excerpt: "Corporations are increasingly bringing in professional money managers to run their employees' retirement accounts. The shift is under way because many of the nation's do-it-yourselfers are admitting they aren't comfortable managing their own retirement plans.... SwedishAmerican, Safelite Auto Glass, and Magnetek are among the companies offering workers a professional money-management option. Several Fortune 500 companies ... are weighing similar changes in their retirement plans." (CareerJournal.com)

Bolstering of Corporate Earnings by Defined Benefit Pension Plans Likely to End
Excerpt: "Thanks to the magic of pension accounting, defined-benefit plan sponsors are able to treat gains on plan investments as earnings. Given the bull market of the late nineties, that added income has substantially boosted income for many publicly traded corporations. But expect most of those paper gains to vanish -- and soon." (CFO.com)

Penalties Sought in Cash Balance Plan Underpayments
Excerpt: "U.S. Representative Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.) said yesterday that he would ask the Labor Department to reprimand three New England employers and 10 other firms that violated federal pension laws after converting traditional retirement plans to cash-balance plans, resulting in a shortfall of $17 million in lump-sum payouts to hundreds of workers who left the firms early." (Boston Globe)

Commentary: Kennedy's Penchant for Jointly Trusteed Pension Boards Goes Down Hard with Employers
Excerpt: "The Protecting America's Pensions Act of 2002 calls for the creation of a joint board of trustees for 401(k) plans with more than 100 participants. The legislation mandates that these trustee boards maintain an equal number of employer and employee representatives. Insiders say the likelihood that this bill will make it through the House and Senate with this provision intact is slim ..." (PLANSPONSOR.com)

New Evidence on Pension Plan Design and Administrative Expenses
Item WP 2002-10; working paper temporarily available for downloading. 24 pages. Excerpt: "[T]he analysis can explore how administrative expenses vary along three key dimensions: pension plan size (assets and participants), plan type (defined benefit or defined contribution), and sponsor type ... The results reveal important differences in pension plan expenses resulting from plan design and size." (Hazel Bateman and Olivia S. Mitchell, published by the Pension Research Council)

SSA, American Savings Education Council Announce National "Save For Your Future" Campaign
Press release. Excerpt: "The Social Security Administration (SSA) and ASEC will combine their efforts through the national 'Save for Your Future' campaign, which will begin in spring 2003 and will include a partnership with State Farm Insurance Companies." (Social Security Administration)

Participant Survey Finds Investment Blind Spots
Excerpt: "The eighth annual John Hancock Financial Services Retirement Survey of defined contribution plan participants showed that many have a cockeyed view of how investments work across the board.... John Hancock researchers said most participants would fall well shy of the estimated 75% of pre-retirement income needed to maintain the same lifestyle while in retirement." (PLANSPONSOR.com)

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Excerpt: "BLAZE SSI's Windows-based systems offer complete support for qualified plan proposals, administration, government approved forms and non-discrimination testing for DB, DC, and 401(k) plans. BLAZE SSI's pension and systems experts provide comprehensive customer support by phone, FAX, mail and EMAIL. BLAZE SSI has a large and loyal customer base of satisfied users. AT BLAZE SSI, WE DO IT RIGHT. Order your free evaluation CD."

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

Overview of IRS, DOL and DHHS Regulations Projects
Excerpt: "Recently, the DOL, DHHS and the Treasury Department published their semiannual regulatory agendas." (EBIA Weekly)

Expensing Stock Options
May 20, 2002 item on NPR's Morning Edition, with clips from Alan Greenspan. Excerpt: "Free and discounted stock options are a common incentive companies offer employees, but NPR's Elaine Korry reports that stockholders may be paying the price later on. (3:33)" (National Public Radio)

States Improve Employees' Pension, Military Leave Policies For 2002, According To Survey
Pensions and military leave policies were the primary targets of states' modifications to employee benefits in 2001, according to the latest State Employee Benefits Survey from Workplace Economics. For state employees retiring as of the beginning of 2002, ten states improved the formulas used to calculate monthly pension benefits, while Pennsylvania reduced the time required for full vesting in pension benefits from ten years to five years. (Spencernet)

Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings - Post a Help Wanted Ad
Pension Administrator for Means & Associates, LLC
in CA
Manager, Compliance Calcs/401(k)'s, etc. for Associated Pension Consultants - Third Party Administrator
in CA
Director of Client Communications for Diversified Investment Advisors
in NY
Financial Benefits Analyst for Corning Incorporated
in NY
Benefits Analyst for SCANA Corporation
in SC
Actuary for USI Consulting Group, Inc. (USICG)
in CT, NY
Retirement Plans Regional Service Representative (Req 6193) for Mutual of Omaha Insurance Co.
in CO, NE, TX, WA
Pension Analyst for USI Consulting Group, Inc. (USICG)
in CT, NY

Newly Posted Webcasts (Post Yours!)
Defined Benefit SERP Design on May 23, 2002
presented by Clark/Bardes Consulting - Compensation Resource Group

Newly Posted Press Releases
Labor Department Proposes Amendment For Underwriter Exemptions (U.S. Department of Labor, Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration)

Subscribe to the Welfare Plans Edition, too (click)

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.