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May 29, 2008

Here are the Web's best new links about compliance and cost aspects of plan operation, design and policy.


Today's sponsor is SunGard

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SunGard’s Relius Government Forms 5500 Web Client

Did you know the DOL is requiring electronic filing for 5500s? Now is the time to encourage your clients to use the Internet to gather and verify data. SunGard's Relius Government Forms 5500 Web Client can help.

Learn more.

800-326-7235, ext. 1100.


[Guidance Overview] Pension Plan Funding Notices and Delinquent Plan Contributions (PDF)
2 pages. Excerpt: "The current economic downturn is likely to expand the ranks of underfunded multiemployer (union) pension plans, and cause more employers to fall behind in making required contributions to their pension and welfare plans. Employers -- and their creditors -- should be aware of governmental responses to these problems; they could impose significant financial responsibilities on plan sponsors, contributing employers, and plan fiduciaries." (Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker LLP)


[Guidance Overview] IRS Currently Accepting Determination Letter Applications for 'Cycle C' Filers
Excerpt: "The Internal Revenue Service ('IRS') is currently accepting determination letter applications for individually-designed qualified retirement plans that are considered 'Cycle C' filers under the determination letter application program maintained by the IRS. In general, an individually-designed plan is considered a Cycle C filer if the plan sponsor's federal employer identification number ends in a '3' or an '8' (although certain special rules apply for multiemployer plans, multiple employer plans, and plans maintained by multiple members of the same controlled group that may require or permit a different filing cycle)." (Bond, Schoeneck & King, PLLC)


[Guidance Overview] The Great 404c Debate on Compliance (PDF)
22 pages. Powerpoint presentation. (Fiduciary Risk Assessment LLC)


[Guidance Overview] Fees and Expenses: The Transparency Debate (PDF)
10 pages. Powerpoint presentation. (Fiduciary Risk Assessment LLC)


[Guidance Overview] New Disclosure/Reporting Requirements for ERISA Plan Service Providers
Excerpt: "The Department of Labor (DOL) is expected to release its final regulations on proposed amendments to ERISA §408(b)(2) later this summer. The new regulations, which are expected to become effective January 1, 2009, will shift the burden of providing documentation demonstrating compliance with ERISA's prohibited transaction rules from plan sponsors to service providers, including broker-dealers and registered investment advisors (RIAs)." (PPA Fiduciary Adviser Legal and Compliance Report)


[Guidance Overview] Court Adopts Prudence Presumption in Stock Drop Case: No Fiduciary Breach for Failure to Divest Employer Stock
Excerpt: "This is one of a number of 'stock drop' cases in which 401(k) plan participants who have experienced losses in their employer stock investments have claimed that their losses were caused or exacerbated by breaches of fiduciary duty. As discussed in the opinion, the courts have struggled in these cases with reconciling ERISA's duty of prudence with its explicit exception from the duty to diversify for employer stock investments." (Employee Benefits Institute of America)


Retirement Plan Contributions, Benefits and Assets: Highlights from Form 5500 Reports
Excerpt: "Our analysis looks at total participants, contributions, benefit disbursements and assets of retirement plans with at least 100 participants for 2005 and retirement plan trends since 1975." (Watson Wyatt Worldwide)


Pensions Issues in European Mergers and Acquisitions (PDF)
7 pages. Excerpt: "This article examines: [1] The reasons why European pension issues have become more important on M&A transactions in recent years. [2] The varying impact of pensions issues in the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Belgium and Spain in relation to both share and asset sales." (Cross-Border Quarterly via Jones Day)


Text of Pension Protection Act ERISA Amendments of 2008 (PDF)
59 pages. Excerpt: "To make technical corrections to the Pension Protection Act of 2006 relating to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, and for other purposes." (U.S. House of Representatives via American Benefits Council)


In U.S. Sugar Stock Plan, Employees See Stacked Deck
Excerpt: "Some former U.S. Sugar employees have since filed a lawsuit accusing company insiders of cheating them out of money that was rightfully theirs. Throughout, the worker-owners have been shut out of information about the company's finances and unable to challenge management's moves or vote because their shares were held through a retirement plan, not directly." (The New York Times; free registration required)


South Carolina Governor Rejects Boost in Retirees' COLAs
Excerpt: "South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford on Monday vetoed a bill that would double the guaranteed annual cost-of-living raise for retired state workers." (PLANSPONSOR.com; free registration required)


The Federal Thrift Savings Plan: A Model for the Private Sector? (PDF)
4 pages. Excerpt: "For [many] reasons, it is impossible for private-sector participant-directed plans to achieve TSP-like results. The TSP enjoys efficiencies of size and workforce composition, limitations in investment choices and participant services, defrayal of some plan costs by U.S. taxpayers, fewer regulatory requirements, and lower compliance costs -- all of these factors in combination make the TSP unique in the world of employer sponsored retirement plans." (Investment Company Institute)


Survey Shows Defined Benefit Plans Still Very Much in the Mix
Excerpt: "The largest of large American corporations are making fewer changes to their retirement plan offerings. And now it appears that the most dramatic change of all has run its course. After a wave of companies earlier in the decade terminated their defined-benefit plans -- or froze the plans to new hires -- fewer businesses have been eliminating these traditional pension plans over the last two years." (Financial Week; free registration required)


Negotiations on New Hampshire Pension Reform Begin
Excerpt: "Lawmakers from the House and Senate yesterday began negotiating a pension reform bill aimed at shoring up the New Hampshire Retirement System while holding down expected cost increases in years to come. In a hot room packed with dozens of the 70,000 current and former state and public employees affected by the cash-strapped system, the senators and representatives pored page-by-page through two competing versions: the Senate's, favored by unions, and the House's, preferred by cities and towns that pay into the system. They have until the end of the week to settle on final language." (redOrbit)


[Opinion] In New York, Reinstate 'Forgotten Mommies' to Tier 1 Pension
Excerpt: "This bill pertains to a civil liberties issue, protection against gender discrimination, not a benefit enhancement or 'sweetener.' It is time to end the discrimination that began for me in 1961 when I was not allowed to teach because I was pregnant. When I returned to teaching, I learned that I had lost my pension tier." (Times Union)


[Opinion] Book Review - When I'm Sixty-Four: The Plot against Pensions and the Plan to Save Them'
Excerpt: "To her credit, Ghilarducci, an economics professor at Notre Dame, actually offers a serious proposal to provide a more secure retirement income stream for Americans, certainly for lower-income individuals. It is unfortunate, IMHO, that she devotes but a single chapter of the 300-page book to exploring the 'plan to save them,' leaving the bulk to 'the plot.'" (PLANSPONSOR.com; free registration required)



Sponsored by: ASPPA

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The Western Benefits Conference, July 13-16, 2008, Seattle, Washington

It's the best of both worlds, and should not be missed. Join the Western Pension & Benefits Conference and ASPPA for this unique conference designed with all retirement, health, welfare and benefits professionals in mind. The Western Benefits Conference offers attendees seven separate professional learning tracks with over 50 individual sessions all led by nationally renowned speakers and both national and local government representatives. Network with your peers, private sector experts, and government officials at planned events throughout the conference. Be in Seattle with over 900 of your colleagues July 13-16, 2008 and experience this conference first hand. Register NOW and don't miss out.

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

Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

New York to Back Same-Sex Unions from Elsewhere
Excerpt: "Gov. David A. Paterson has directed all state agencies to begin to revise their policies and regulations to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions, like Massachusetts, California and Can.ada." (The New York Times; free registration required)


Program Providing Reimbursement of Phone Services for Retirees is an ERISA Plan
Excerpt: "The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas has determined that a telephone company's program that provides reimbursement for phone services to retirees constitutes a pension plan governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA)." (PLANSPONSOR.com; free registration required)




Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

10th Annual Conference of the Retirement Research Consortium (RRC)
in District of Columbia on August 7, 2008
presented by Center for Retirement Research at Boston College

ERISA Health and Welfare Compliance for Rookies: Understanding Basic Documentation, SPD, Form 5500, and Other Rules
Nationwide on May 1, 2008
presented by Employee Benefits Institute of America (EBIA)/Thomson Tax & Accounting

Fundamentals of 401(k) and Other Qualified Plans
in Washington on June 25, 2008
presented by SunGard Relius



Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

Andrew D. Sherman Elected President of New England Employee Benefits Council
New England Employee Benefits Council

IRS Announces Public Meeting of ACT, Names New Members
Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

Council Testifies Before IRS: Asset Smoothing Critical for Defined Benefit Plan Sponsors
American Benefits Council

New York Life Retirement Plan Services Introduces New 401(k) Institutional Product For $5-30 Million Plans
New York Life Investment Management

National Retirement Partners Announces Partnership with SalesForce.com
National Retirement Partners, Inc.



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