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June 23, 2006
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Since 1992, BeneCom has provided one-stop benefit communications for organizations large and small, nationwide. Staffed by people who know benefits, we write, design and produce effective media, including SPDs, enrollment materials, newsletters, benefit statements and more. So whether you're an employer, plan administrator or consultant in need of traditional or online capabilities, we're here to help. Call (860) 674-2626 today.

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

Chrysler's 'Employee Discount' of Last Summer Could Be Revived
Excerpt: "Employee discount programs, which sent car sales soaring last summer, may be about to return." (New York Times; one-time registration required)

Minnesota Governor Touts Web Site for Consumers' Use in Finding Lowest Drug Prices
Excerpt: "Shopping for affordable pres.cription drugs used to be guesswork, Gov. Tim Pawlenty said Thursday, but the new Web feature gives people credible pricing information from more than 1,000 pharmacies in Minnesota and some border towns." (Pioneer Press via BCBSHealthIssues.com)

2d Circuit: Fiduciary Liable for Losses for Failure to Protect Plan from Known Embezzler (PDF)
Chao v. Merino; 22 pages. The defendant was the administrator of a multiemployer health fund; the U.S. Department of Labor brought suit, accusing the defendant of having breached her fiduciary duties to the fund by allowing the fund to deal with a known embezzler (an individual who had been convicted and jailed for embezzling from another employee benefit fund) who proceeded to embezzle employer contributions meant for the fund. (FindLaw.com)

10th Circuit Reverses District Court's Summary Judgment for Disability Claimant
Although the appeals court agreed with the district court that the plan's denial of the claim was arbitrary and capricious due to failure to give fair consideration to the plaintiff's affidavits, the court ordered that the case be returned to the plan for reconsideration rather than upholding summary judgment for the claimant, because '[t]his is not a case where it is clear-cut that it was unreasonable for [the plan] to deny [the claimant's] benefits." (FindLaw.com)

Selected Welfare Benefit Claims: Long Term Disability Plans (PDF)
11 pages; originally published in 2001. Topics include whether a disability plan is subject to ERISA; the standard of review in interpreting a plan's documents; the need for exhaustion of a plan's claim and appeal procedures; the definition of disability, and proof of disability. (Attorney David R. Levin of Gardner, Carton & Douglas)

Seventh Circuit Finds de Novo Standard Applicable in Disability Claim Despite Contrary SPD Provision
Excerpt: "Last week, in Schwartz v. Prudential Ins. Co. ... [the] Seventh Circuit found that the plan language did not confer discretion sufficient to trigger the arbitrary and capricious standard. The fact that the Summary Plan Description granted discretion put it in conflict with the plan language." (ERISA on the Web (blog by Branham & Day law firm))

Overview: Health Care Expenditures in the OECD and a Comparison to the United States
Excerpt: "[T]he authors calculate the share of total benefit growth that is attributable to demographics. They find that demographics are relatively unimportant; on average, three-quarters of health care expenditure growth can be traced to growth in benefit levels.... Assuming a 3% discount rate, the U.S. is projected to double expenditures as a share of today's GDP in 20 years and triple them in 40 years." (National Bureau of Economic Research)

Merck Loses Protection for Patent on Expensive Cholestorol-Lowering Drug
Excerpt: "Today, Merck's cholesterol-lowering drug Zocor loses its United States patent protection, becoming the largest-selling drug yet to be opened to cheap generic competition.... [T]he price of a dose of simvastatin will probably drop 30 percent or more in the next few days, and by as much as 90 percent next year, to about 30 cents a pill." (New York Times; one-time registration required)


Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

Executive Pensions Can Be Big Liability Says Wall Street Journal
Excerpt: "Executive benefits play a large and hidden role in the declining health of U.S. pensions, and executive pension obligations exceed $1 billion at seven U.S. companies, The Wall Street Journal said on Friday [June 23]." (Reuters)

The Fallout of Automotive Buyouts of Employees
Excerpt: "To tens of thousands of workers, it's a wrenching decision. To their employers, it's much-needed cost-cutting. To their already depleted union, it's an exodus." (Washington Post; one-time registration required)


Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

Hardship Distributions - Basics and Beyond
Nationwide on July 18, 2006
presented by SunGard Corbel

How to Fix a Broken 401(k) Plan
in Georgia on July 20, 2006
presented by WEB and ABC of Atlanta


Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

Suspension of DOE Procurement Policy Gives Pension Bill Negotiators New Opportunity to Craft Predictable Funding Rules
(American Benefits Council)

ftwilliam.com Announces The Release Of ftwPortal
(ftwilliam.com)

9th Annual Ariel/Schwab Survey Shows Blacks & Whites Differ in Expectations and Strategies for Retirement
(Ariel Capital Management, LLC)


Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
Post a Help Wanted Ad

Sr. Strategic Planning Consultant
for Transamerica
in CA

Retirement Plan Administrator
for MVP Plan Administrators Inc
in NC

Not-for-Profit / 403(b) Market Manager
for Transamerica
in CA

Compliance Manager
for Associated Pension Consultants
in CA

Pension Administrator
for Associated Benefit Planners, Ltd.
in PA

Financial Planner / Investment Specialist
for Diversified Investment Advisors
in NY

Institutional Trust Relationship Manager - RPS
for U.S. Bank
in WA

Operations (EDI) Administrator
for Sentinel Benefits Group
in MA

Conversion Specialist
for Third Party Administrator located in the Southeast
in NC




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