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August 21, 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)

Final Practice Note on Group Long-Term Disability Insurance (PDF)
20 pages. (American Academy of Actuaries)

Overview: IRS Officials' Comments on Recent and Upcoming Cafeteria Plan Guidance
Excerpt: "The IRS's top cafeteria plan experts -- Harry Beker and Elizabeth Purcell -- commented on recent and upcoming cafeteria plan guidance during ECFC's 19th Annual Flexible Benefits Administrators' Symposium, held August 9-11 in Dallas." (Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc.)

Claim for COBRA Election Notice Penalties Is Time-Barred
Excerpt: "EBIA Comment: [T]he accrual analysis applicable to a claim for COBRA coverage (in distinction to a claim for statutory penalties) often involves consideration of when the qualified beneficiary had reason to know that he or she had a claim. Depending on the facts of any given case, this approach can significantly extend the date such a claim accrues (and therefore the period in which the claim must be filed in court)." (Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc.)

Overview: Qualified Beneficiary's Election Period Must Be at Least 60 Days
Excerpt: "Group health plan sponsors should ensure that their COBRA notices comply with the regulations. Among many other important provisions, the regulations require an election notice to explain the time period within which the COBRA election must be made. Under the statute, the election period must be at least 60 days, but poor drafting can cause a longer period to apply." (Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc.)

70's Law Costs 61,000 Military Widows Thousands of Dollars in Survivor Benefits
Excerpt: "A 1972 law created the Survivor Benefits Plan, a Department of Defense retirement income fund similar to a life insurance policy. The plan, in turn, pays benefits calculated according to a dead service member's rank and length of service. . . . But under the law, which placed restrictions on the plan that it created, the payment to widows enrolled in the Survivor Benefits Plan is reduced, dollar for dollar, by the amount of the Dependency and Indemnity Compensation stipend." (The New York Times; one-time registration required)

Overview: Plan Denies Benefits Based on Claimant's Criminal Activity
Excerpt: "This unusual ERISA case addressed whether the claimant could recover disability retirement benefits when his injuries occurred while he was allegedly engaged in a criminal enterprise." (ERISA on the web; posted by John Wood)

Discussion: State's Healthcare Assignment Law Not Preempted
Excerpt: "Unconvinced by the whispers of health insurers, the 5th Circuit has affirmed a district ruling that Louisiana law relating to assignment of healthcare benefits is not preempted by ERISA. [Louisiana Health Service & Indemnity Co. v. Rapides Healthcare System, 04-31114]" (Pensions & Benefits Weblog)

The Rise of the Shrinking-Vacation Syndrome
Excerpt: "Shrinking-vacation syndrome has gotten so bad that at least one major American company, the accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, has taken to shutting down its entire national operation twice a year to ensure that people stop working -- for about 10 days over Christmas, and 5 days or so around the Fourth of July." (The New York Times; one-time registration required)

Overview: HIPAA and ADA Requirements for Wellness Programs Not Necessarily the Same
Excerpt: "Wellness programs might help cut health plan costs, but careful design will be crucial because the programs must comply with both HIPAA and the ADA. The DOL and the EEOC take somewhat different approaches to wellness program issues, and compliance with one agency's requirements might not satisfy the other agency's requirements." (Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc.)

Smart Care via the Computer, but What Will It Cost?
Excerpt: "The technology itself is simply a software storehouse of a person's medical history, including chronic conditions, medical tests, drug prescriptions, diagnoses and doctors' comments. Yet bringing pen-and-ink patient records and prescriptions into the computer age is seen as a vital step toward modernizing the nation's inefficient, paper-clogged health system. Various studies say that it should reduce medical errors and costs, saving lives and saving dollars . . . ." (The New York Times; one-time registration required)

Opinion: Actually, What We Need Is a 401(rx)
Excerpt: "It's time to create a 401(k) for retiree healthcare -- call it the 401(Rx). Future medical costs deserve at least equal weight to pensions." (Star-Telegram.com)

Overview: IRS Nixes HRA that Reimburses Medical Care Expenses of Non-Spouse and Non-Dependent Beneficiaries
Excerpt: "EBIA Comment: Those designing and sponsoring HRAs should take note: When a poor plan design causes an arrangement to miss the mark as an HRA, all reimbursements made under the arrangement are includible in employees' gross income -- not just those paid under the offending provision." (Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc.)


Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

DOL Removes DC-Based Union in Fiduciary Breach Case
Excerpt: "Federal officials have announced that they have obtained a temporary federal court restraining order, removing a security guard union as fiduciary of its pension and health plans." (PLANSPONSOR.com; one-time registration required)

Web Site: DOJ Site Provides Information on Civilian Employment Rights of Armed Forces Volunteers
Excerpt: "The employees of the Department of Justice are proud to serve our nation's men and women in [the Armed Forces]. This site provides information on how the Department of Justice and . . . sister agencies can help you, and what you can do to protect your [civilian employment] rights under the law." (U.S. Department of Justice)


Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
Post a Help Wanted Ad

401(k) Client Relationship Manager
for The Douglas Group
in FL, IL, NJ, NY, PA

TPA Administrator
for Atlantic Pension Services Inc.
in PA

Retirement Plan Specialist
for McCamish Systems, LLC
in GA

Benefit Administrator
for Independent Benefit Services
in MD

Payment/Data Administrator
for Milliman, Inc.
in TX

Participant Communication Consultant
for Vanguard
in PA

DB Implementation Specialist
for Milliman, Inc.
in TX

Sr. Benefits Analyst for Corning Incorporated
for Corning Incorporated
in NY

Pension Administrator
for Benefit Strategies, Inc.
in CA

Health Management Advanced Actuary
for Hewitt Associates
in CT

401(k) Compliance Analyst
for AccuRecord, Inc.
in NY

Plan Document Specialist
for Louis Kravitz & Associates
in CA




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