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The BenefitsLink Newsletter -
Retirement Plans Edition
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July 11, 2002 - 11,391 subscribers
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As Pension Bills Gain Steam, Differences Remain
Excerpt: "The Senate Finance Committee plans to vote on a measure today to protect the pensions of workers in the wake of corporate scandals that have wiped out the retirement savings of thousands of employees who were heavily invested in their company's stock. The committee bill, which has strong bipartisan support, is expected to be reconciled with legislation passed earlier by the Senate Health, Labor, Education and Pensions Committee." (Washington Post)

Bush Proposals Underwhelm Some Experts, Including Pension Fund Managers
Excerpt: "Top officials of TIAA-CREF, the pension and education fund manager with $270 billion under management, were pleased that Bush wants stronger oversight of the accounting industry. But they were disappointed that the president gave only qualified support to a bipartisan accounting bill to create an independent private body ..." (AP via Yahoo! News)

WorldCom Inc. 401(k) Plans Lost $1.1 Billion
Excerpt: "Employees of WorldCom Inc. who own shares in the telecommunications company in their retirement plans collectively have lost at least $1.1 billion during the past three years." (Washington Post)

Oregon Public Employees Pension Fund Sets Vote On Updating Life Expectancy Tables
Excerpt: "The [Oregon] state pension fund board has agreed to decide next month whether to revise its outdated life expectancy tables, a move that would lower pension benefits for thousands of public employees. The Public Employee Retirement System, commonly referred to as PERS, has been setting many workers' pension checks too high, because it's relying on 1978 life expectancy figures." ([McMinnville OR] NewsRegister.com)

Another Question is Answered in the Who's the Employer Q&A Column
Can a PEO offer a Multiple Employer plan to the common law employees of its clients but exclude the PEO's own employees from participation? If the PEO's employees are excluded, how can the PEO sponsor a qualified plan that covers only other employers' employees? (BenefitsLink.com)

Another Question is Answered in the Who's the Employer Q&A Column
In discussing the upcoming third edition of your book, you mention that it describes EGTRRA-related changes to the controlled group rules. What are they? (BenefitsLink.com)

Miller Brewing Co., PBGC Reach Agreement; Deal Protects Worker Pensions Despite Sale
Excerpt: "The federal government has reached an agreement with Philip Morris Cos. to protect retirement benefits for more than 9,500 workers at its subsidiary Miller Brewing Co., which is being sold ... Miller Brewing's pension obligations are underfunded by about $150 million, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. estimated ... Philip Morris has agreed to make up the shortfall in case the money is needed to cover benefits promised to Miller Brewing workers and retirees." (AP via Yahoo! News)

ASPA Comments to IRS on Suspension of Benefits Problem Arising Under 415 Revenue Ruling
Excerpt: "[We see] a suspension of benefits conflict where the § 415 limits restrict a current accrual due to the 'plateau' of the dollar limit between age 62 and age 65 for plans with a normal retirement date prior to age 65.... We are concerned that the suspension of benefits issue was addressed in Rev. Rul. 2001-51 without providing an opportunity for comment and without providing relief for past breaches (if any)." (American Society of Pension Actuaries)

EBRI: Total Collapse of WorldCom Would Have Negligible Effect on Pension System
Press release. Excerpt: "[F]ailure of WorldCom would have meant pension losses of about 0.26 percent of total assets ... [S]ome pension and annuity firms had what appeared to be large absolute dollars invested in WorldCom. However, when compared to total pension and annuity assets, the impact of even a total WorldCom failure (were it to come) would be a small fraction of total assets and returns." (Employee Benefit Research Institute via Yahoo! News)

Key Reforms Proposed In Pickering Review On British Pensions
Excerpt: "A government-sponsored review, titled 'A simpler way to better pensions', has called for a radical overhaul of rules governing company pensions. The key proposals in the review -- headed by Alan Pickering, former head of the National Association of Pension funds -- are detailed here: ..." (Reuters.co.uk)

Alarm in Britain Over Government Proposals to Stem DB to DC Conversions
Excerpt: "The report, from pension expert Alan Pickering, said firms should be allowed to stop index-linking of pensions and having to pay a pension for life to the spouse of a scheme member after his or her death, so-called 'survivor benefits'. Both are currently required by law." (ThisIsMoney.com)

Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General
(These items appear in both editions of the BenefitsLink Newsletter)

Loans To Corporate Officers Under Fire
Excerpt: "President Bush wants boards of directors to turn off their lucrative loan spigots for corporate officers." (Wall Street Journal via MSNBC.com)

Joint Committee Describes Additional Pension in Changes to Chairman's Mark of Senate Bill (PDF)
Excerpt: "The proposal would provide specific exclusions from FICA and FUTA wages for remuneration on account of the transfer of stock pursuant to the exercise of an incentive stock option or under an employee stock purchase plan, or any disposition of such stock. Thus, under the proposal, FICA and FUTA taxes would not apply upon the exercise of a statutory stock option." (Joint Committee on Taxation)

Commentary: Bush Failed to Stress Need to Rein In Stock Options
Excerpt: "In his 27-minute speech on corporate responsibility, Mr. Bush spent less than 30 seconds tackling the issue that many believe is central: the issuance of huge amounts of stock options to top executives. Until this problem is addressed, true change will be slow to come to boardrooms." (New York Times; free registration required)

SATIRE: Bush Vows Crackdown On Corporate Corruption Unless It Happened In 1990
Excerpt: "'Today, I am calling for a new ethic of personal responsibility in the business community,' [President Bush] said, 'an ethic that will increase investor confidence, regain the trust of the American people, and not be retroactive.'" (SatireWire.com)

Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings - Post a Help Wanted Ad
Institutional Trust Support Officer I (JO#315) for a Trust Company in VA
in VA
ERISA Compliance Manager for FutureBenefits of America
in TN
Retirement Member Services Supervisor for San Diego County Employees Retirement Association (SDCERA)
in CA
Trust Employee Benefits Administrator for Associated Wealth Management
in WI
Daily Valuation Plan Specialist for First Trust Corporation
in CO
Employee Benefits Attorneys -- Sacramento, California for Chang Ruthenberg & Long PC
in CA
Business Development Position for Retirement Alliance Inc.
in GA

Newly Posted Press Releases
ARAG Group Acquires LegalWise (ARAG Group)

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Editor and Publisher: David Rhett Baker, J.D.