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June 6, 2006
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(Please visit our sponsors. We try to make sure their products and services will be of interest to you. Thanks! --Editor)

Union Employees Angry Over Pension Bill Provision Authorizing Cutback in 'Ancillary' Benefits
Excerpt: "The provision would allow financially troubled pensions, with the consent of management and union officials, to reopen retirement benefits and reduce early retirement benefits.... Those in favor of the provision say ... existing benefits today were negotiated back during the 1980s when pensions were strong. In today's financial reality, early retirement benefits may have to be altered to keep retirement benefits after age 65 sound and intact." (The Republican via MassLive.com)

Fewer Employers Offer Pension Plans -- Employees Forced to Change Savings and Investment Habits
Excerpt: "Only 37 of the nation's 100 largest companies offered traditional pensions to new hires last year. That's down from 42 in 2004, 50 in 2002 and 89 in 1985, benefits consultant Watson Wyatt reports." (Scripps Howard News Service via Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

Overview: Split in Recent Cash Balance Plan Rulings (PDF)
6 pages. Excerpt: "The courts issued two recent rulings in the pending class action lawsuits against the FleetBoston and AT&T cash balance plans. In the FleetBoston case, the court made a preliminary finding that the cash balance formula violates age discrimination rules." (Groom Law Group)

Weigh 401(k) Options Before Leaving a Job
Excerpt: "If you're about to leave your job, and you've got a pile of money set aside in a 401(k) or other such retirement-savings plan at work, what should you do: Leave the money in the plan, or transfer it to an IRA?" (The Providence Journal)

Companies Help Employees Increase Retirement Savings, According to Study
Excerpt: "The study, which looked at the savings and investing patterns of more than 2.6 million employees who were eligible for 401 (k) plans, found that 36% of workers with less than one year of tenure participated in a 401(k) plan in 2005, an increase of 6 percentage points from the prior year." (Industry Week)

OECD Promotes Stricter Funding Requirements for Public and Private Pension Plans (PDF)
3 pages. Excerpt: "In the United States, pension plans traditionally pay attention only to domestic entities such as the Congress, Department of Labor, Internal Revenue Service and Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation as the source for potential rules on funding their pension plans. However, at least one international body has chosen to enter the debate over pension funding, and U.S. employers may wish to observe its activities for possible future impact on U.S. pension plans." (David W. Powell via Groom Law Group)

Firms Should Consider Multiple Risk Factors in Pension Plan Freezes
Excerpt: "About 60% of businesses would freeze their pensions if they endangered cash flow, while 48% would do so if they threatened the bottom line and 43% would do so if they could harm credit ratings." (Employee Benefit News)

Study Warns Companies Against Being Too Quick to Freeze Defined Benefit Plans
Excerpt: "Since October 2003, 20 companies have frozen their DB plans, but in an analysis issued this month, Merrill Lynch advised companies to wait and see what the pension landscape will look like in the future, rather than simply following the lead of other companies." (PLANSPONSOR.com: one-time registration required)

Overview: Court Voids Pension Amendment as Fraudulent Transfer Under Federal Bankrup.tcy Law
Excerpt: "[A] recent case from the Third Circuit Court of Appeals is a reminder that current law may limit a plan sponsor's ability to enhance benefits in an overfunded plan before the plan sponsor seeks federal bankrup.tcy protection. In Re: Fruehauf Trailer Corp., 444 F.3d 203 (3rd Cir. 2006)." (Deloitte via BenefitsLink.com)

Working Owner Entitled to Benefits under Multiemployer Plan
Excerpt: "A lump-sum contribution to multiemployer plan on behalf of a working owner did not violate the exclusive benefit provision of ERISA, according to an opinion letter released by the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)." (CCH Pension & Benefits)

City's Pension Cut Proposal May Set Negotiating Pattern
Excerpt: "The Bloomberg administration proposed yesterday that newly hired workers belonging to the largest municipal union accept substantially smaller pensions, a move that the city hopes will set a money-saving pattern for every municipal union." (The New York Times; one-time registration required)

Defined Contribution Plans Abroad Expected to Abound
Excerpt: "While employers at home are increasingly abandoning defined benefit plans in favor of defined contribution programs, other countries are following suit, said Jay Hooley, executive vice president of State Street Corp. of Boston." (Employee Benefit News)

Overview: IRS Updates and Expands the Employee Plans Compliance Resolution System (PDF)
Pages 1-2 of 5. Excerpt: "On May 5, 2006, the Internal Revenue Service (the 'IRS') issued Revenue Procedure 2006-27 (the 'Revenue Procedure'), the long-awaited update to the Employee Plans Compliance Resolution System ('EPCRS')." (Trucker Huss)

Questions Raised About Varied Participant Fees
Excerpt: "'I think there is an assumption on the part of some plan sponsors that everyone pays ... the same amount for that plan's maintenance,' says Jeff Wallace, a consultant with IFC Retirement Advisors in El Segundo, Calif. 'So if you have a $100,000 account balance and I have a $10,000 account balance, maybe we both pay $50 a year for that or maybe we pay 1.25%.'" (Employee Benefit News)

Issue in Brief: A New National Retirement Risk Index (PDF)
9 pages. Excerpt: "The Index measures the share of working-age households who are at risk of being unable to maintain their pre-retirement standard of living in retirement." (Center for Retirement Research at Boston College)

Towers Perrin U.S. Legislative Tracking Charts -- Retirement -- Updated May 31, 2006 (PDF)
19 pages. Excerpt: "These charts summarize selected federal legislation that would affect employee benefit programs. The bills included on the charts are based on judgments regarding the prominence of the issue, the likelihood of enactment, and the influence of the sponsors." (Towers Perrin)

Recent Legislative Activity as Pension Conference Continues to Move Slowly (PDF)
Excerpt: "As Congress prepared to leave for the Memorial Day recess, they enacted two pieces of legislation which had implications for employee benefit plans. Of more significance, however, was what didn't happen. The pension reform legislation was not resolved and negotiations among the conferees continue." (Groom Law Group)


Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

Text of U.S. Chamber of Commerce Comments on FASB Exposure Draft on Pension, Postretirement Acct'g (PDF)
4 pages. Excerpt: "[W]e caution against requirements that create undue burdens without providing better or more useful information. Moreover, we are concerned about proposed changes that may cause plan sponsors to reconsider plan design based simply on the accounting changes. To this end, our comments focus on three main areas: the change in the measure of liability; the change of the measurement date; and the transition period and effective date." (U.S. Chamber of Commerce)

Comments to FASB on Proposed Statement Amending FASB Statements No. 87, 88, 106, and 132(R) (PDF)
5 pages. The letter discusses the Proposed Statement of Financial Accounting Standards: Employers' Accounting for Declined Benefit Pension and Other Postretirement Plans, an Amendment of FASB Statements No. 87, 88, 106, and 132(R)." (Milliman)

Milliman's Monthly Benefit News and Developments, June 2006 (PDF)
2 pages. The newsletter provides a summary of the previous month's legislative, regulatory, and judicial information on employee Benefits. (Milliman)

Working Paper Abstract: Love or Money? Health Insurance and Retirement Among Married Couples
Excerpt: "This paper examines the role of employer provided health insurance in the retirement decisions of dual working couples." (National Bureau of Economic Research; paid subscription or individual purchase required to retrieve full-text)

Overview: Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act Final Regulations (PDF)
5 pages. Excerpt: "It is important to note that USERRA does not preempt more generous state laws. USERRA establishes a minimum standard for employment and reemployment rights and supersedes any state or local law, contract, agreement, policy, plan, or practice that reduces, limits or eliminates any right or benefit provided under USERRA." (Gabriel Roeder Smith & Company)


Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
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401(k) / Defined Contribution Administrator
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in NJ, PA

Defined Benefit Pension Plan Administrator
for The Angell Pension Group, Inc.
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Retirement Plan Analyst - Compliance
for Invesmart, Inc.
in CA

Cafeteria Plan Administrator
for Tax Favored Benefits, Inc.
in KS, MO

Financial Planner / Investment Specialist
for Diversified Investment Advisors
in AZ




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