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June 17, 2008

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


Today's sponsor is ASC & The ASC Institute

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ASCi EGTRRA Documents Available Now!

ASCi launches its IRS-approved Volume Submitter 401(k) document! Additional EGTRRA documents will be rolling out throughout this spring and summer. Join the many practitioners who have already used ASCi’s highly acclaimed DGEM system to prepare thousands of new and restated documents and remain far ahead in restating their clients’ plans to comply with EGTRRA.

Click here to see a DGEM video or contact us at asci@asc-net.com.


[Guidance Overview] Compliance Checklist 2008 - For Plans That Are Not Subject to ERISA (PDF)
14 pages. Excerpt: "The Checklist incorporates requirements for Governmental and Nonelecting Church Plans, Non-ERISA 403(b) Programs, 457 Plans, and Nonqualified Executive Benefit Plans, and provides information on the materials that you will need to file, filing due dates, and agencies to which the filings should be made." (Prudential Retirement)


[Guidance Overview] Compliance Checklist 2008 - For Plans That Are Subject to ERISA (PDF)
42 pages. Excerpt: "The Checklist incorporates Defined Benefit, Defined Contribution and ERISA 403(b) requirements and provides information on the materials that you will need to file, filing due dates, and agencies to which the filings should be made." (Prudential Retirement)


[Guidance Overview] Beneficiary Designation Form Not Valid When Participant Did Not Sign and Date It
Excerpt: "This case is another cautionary tale: ERISA administrators that fail to have procedures in place (or fail to follow those procedures to ensure that beneficiary designation forms are properly completed, signed, and dated before they are accepted) risk expensive and time-consuming lawsuits . . . ." (Employee Benefits Institute of America)


The Number of Individual Account Retirement Plans Owned by American Families (PDF)
Pages 6-10 of 12 pages. Excerpt: "In brief, the data show that the majority of families in the United States do not own an individual account retirement plan at all, but of those that do own at least one plan, most own only one." (Employee Benefit Research Institute)


Treasury Official Predicts More Penalty-Free Plan Withdrawals to Be Allowed
Excerpt: "Penalty-free withdrawals from retirement plans will become more common as lawmakers look for ways to give individuals greater access to their savings to pay for nonretirement needs, according to W. Thomas Reeder, benefits counsel, Office of the Treasury Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy." (Wolters Kluwer)


Automatic 401(k)s Finding Favor - Lockheed, Nationwide Financial Report Higher Participation
Excerpt: "So-called automatic 401(k)s, permitted under the Pension Protection Act passed by Congress two years ago, are already having a dramatic effect, Nationwide's Chief Administrative Officer Terri Hill said at a conference in Washington last week. About 96 percent of employees are saving for their retirement, up from 74 percent two years ago, she said." (The Washington Post; free registration required)


Are ETF Funds Soon to Be Commonplace in Company Retirement Plans?
Excerpt: "Exchange-traded funds, often lauded for their low fees and easy diversification, are angling for your retirement money. But this budding class of investments can't seem to gain a foothold in the mutual fund-dominated 401(k) business. 'Traditional fund companies have a stranglehold on those plans,' says Jeffrey Ptak, head of ETF research at Morningstar." (U.S. News & World Report)


Will Income Plans Wrapped Around 401(k)s Thrive?
Excerpt: "Industry leaders are divided on whether income options in 401(k) plans will succeed and become a popular product in the next decade. Issues of portability, cost and complexity are still hurdles these products must overcome. Their success will depend on how quickly and how fast vendors can solve these issues, industry leaders said." (Investment News; free registration required)


Update on Development of Pan-European Pensions
Excerpt: "While the advantages of implementing pan–European pension arrangements include reduced costs, improved governance and better risk management, companies considering such a step should be aware of the [Committee of European Insurance and Occupational Pension Supervisors (CEIOPS)] findings set out in [the March] report." (Faegre & Benson LLP)


Affluent Boomers Express Top Retirement Concerns in Study
Excerpt: "Maintaining a current standard of living is the top concern among affluent investors age 45 to 65, according to recent Cogent Research. The study, The Retirement Income Dilemma, examines the behaviors and attitudes of pre-retirees." (planadvisor.com)


Comfortable Retirement a Fading Dream for Many
Excerpt: "Today, for millions of older Americans, quitting their jobs is no longer an option. That's cold water for the leading edge of the Baby Boom generation, just now moving into its retirement years." (San Francisco Chronicle)


Law Firm Agrees to $4M San Diego Pension Mess Settlement
Excerpt: "A Houston law firm that was brought into San Diego's ongoing pension mess has agreed to a $4.35-million settlement with city officials." (PLANSPONSOR.com; free registration required)


Updated '401(k) Fair Disclosure Act' Passed by House Education and Labor Committee
Excerpt: "The House Education and Labor Committee recently reported a modified version of H.R. 3185, the 401(k) Fair Disclosure for Retirement Security Act. The modifications relate to the: (1) fee information to be disclosed by service providers, (2) investment election and benefit statement information to be provided by plan administrators to participants, and (3) the index fund 'minimum investment option' to be required for fiduciary relief under ERISA 404(c)." (Deloitte via BenefitsLink.com)


GASB Considering Improvements to Accounting Standards for Pension and Other Post Employment Benefits
Excerpt: "As stated by GASB, the objectives are to improve: accountability – or the transparency of financial reporting – in regard to the financial effects of employers' commitments (i.e., improve the information provided to help report users assess the degree to which interperiod equity has been achieved), and usefulness of information for decisions relevant to the various users of the external financial reports of governmental employers and pension or OPEB plans." (Deloitte via BenefitsLink.com)


What to Do with a Retirement Plan Lump-Sum Distribution
Excerpt: "Thanks to the funds in your 401(k) or other type of employer-sponsored qualified retirement plan, if you are retiring or changing careers, you may receive a large chunk of money -possibly the biggest you've ever seen. That's why it's important that you do not overlook the need to 'map out' a lump-sum distribution strategy to protect what you've accumulated. Ideally, it's best to choose a distribution option that meets your retirement needs, minimizes the impact of taxes, and avoids penalties." (The Daily Advertiser)



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

[Official Guidance] Text of IRS Rev. Rul 2008-32: Qualification as 'Outside Director' Under Section 162(m) After Serving as Interim CEO (PDF)
4 pages. Excerpt: "Section 162(a)(1) allows as a deduction all the ordinary and necessary expenses paid or incurred during the taxable year in carrying on any trade or business, including a reasonable allowance for salaries or other compensation for personal services actually rendered. Section 162(m)(1) provides that, in the case of any publicly held corporation, no deduction is allowed for applicable employee remuneration with respect to any covered employee to the extent that the amount of the remuneration for the taxable year exceeds $1,000,000." (Internal Revenue Service)


[Guidance Overview] New Heroes Act Improves Pay and Employee Benefits for Military Personnel (PDF)
3 pages. Excerpt: "Recently, Congress passed the Heroes Earnings Assistance and Relief Tax Act of 2008 (the 'Heroes Act'), which changes certain rules pertaining to retirement plans, health flexible spending accounts ('health FSAs'), and group health plans with the goal of increasing or improving the pay and employee benefits provided to employees in military service." (Dechert LLP)


[Guidance Overview] Plan Language Required Dismissal of Fiduciary Breach Claim Based on Alleged Misclassification of Employees as Exempt
Excerpt: "As we learned from earlier cases (for example, the Vizcaino case against Microsoft . . .), employee misclassifications for other purposes, such as payroll tax withholding, or as here, for FLSA purposes, can have consequences for 401(k) and other employee benefit plans. While the court dismissed the fiduciary breach claim, we note that nothing in the opinion prevents the employees from renewing a claim for benefits if they are ultimately successful in making their FLSA claim, are awarded overtime pay retroactively, and do not receive contributions based on that award." (Employee Benefits Institute of America)


[Guidance Overview] Public Employers in Michigan May Not Offer Same-Sex Domestic Partner Benefits, Michigan Supreme Court Rules
Excerpt: "Michigan's Constitution prohibits public entities in that state from providing health insurance benefits to their employees' same-sex domestic partners, according to the Michigan Supreme Court. National Pride at Work, et al. v. Governor of Michigan, et al., No. 133429 (Mich. S.C. May 7, 2008)." (Deloitte via BenefitsLink.com)


Company Size and Performance Not the Biggest Factors for Executive Pensions
Excerpt: "The median value of accumulated pension benefits for a CEO at an S&P 500 company is $6.1 million, according to Equilar. Compensation experts say there's a good reason why executives at midsize companies can find themselves staring at outsize pensions. 'Size and performance aren't always the biggest factors in an executive's pension,' said Peter Oppermann, an executive compensation consultant at Mercer. 'Their years of service and compensation can often be the major drivers.'" (Workforce Management; free registration required)


The IRS on Lost Fica Payments for Lost Deferred Compensation
Excerpt: "Last week, the IRS released a Memorandum from the Office of Chief Counsel (CCA 200823001) on whether certain former employees could recover FICA taxes that were withheld on their non-qualified plan benefit accruals after the former employees forfeited the benefits. The IRS concluded that they could not." (Michael S. Melbinger via Winston & Strawn LLP)


Some Companies Provide Loans, Grants and Counseling to Workers Mired in Mortgage Debt
Excerpt: "In the wake of the mortgage crisis, a small but growing number of workers are getting help avoiding or coping with foreclosure from an unlikely source: their employers. So far, a handful of companies -- from small manufacturers to large companies like home-financing behemoth Fannie Mae -- are offering assistance, such as interest-free loans, grants and support in securing rental properties. They're also beefing up their employee-assistance programs, or EAPs, and adding more educational seminars on personal finance." (The Wall Street Journal)


Benefit Cost Comparisons Between State and Local Governments and Private-Sector Employers (PDF)
Pages 2-6 of 12 pages. of Excerpt: "Major reasons for the differences in total compensation costs between state and local government employers and private-sector employers are the different composition of their respective work forces and the different nature of public- vs. private-sector work." (Employee Benefit Research Institute)


Employee/Employer Gas Cost Idea Runs on Fumes
Excerpt: "What are the chances of getting my employer to pay me a gas-offset perk, and how do I present the idea?" (Worcester Telegram & Gazette Corp.)


West Virginia State Employees Can Start Cashing in Sick Days July 1
Excerpt: "The Legislature this year passed a bill that allows eligible state workers to trade their sick days for cash in an effort to ease debt from members of the Public Employees Insurance Agency. Certain state employees hired before 2001 can convert unused sick days into free PEIA coverage after retirement." (Charleston Daily Mail)


Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing Scheduled for June 11, 2008, Suspended
The hearing, 'Short-change for Consumers and Short-shrift for Congress? The Supreme Court's Treatment of Laws that Protect Americans' Health, Safety, Jobs and Retirement' was suspended because of an objection on the Senate floor. (U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary)


Telework: A Green Solution for the 21st Century's Employee Crisis
Excerpt: "Experts have debated at length the cost/benefit analysis of telework from productivity, security, and work-life standpoints, but one thing is for certain. Rising energy costs and the trickling economy have lead to a nationwide cash crunch. New data suggests that telework can contribute strongly to reducing pollution, energy consumption and overhead costs for companies." (Employee Benefit News; free registration required)


Employees Looking for Help on Managing Finances, Maximizing Benefits
Excerpt: "Nearly half of workers (49%) are interested in receiving financial advice and guidance at the workplace, according to the sixth annual MetLife Study of Employee Benefits Trends, a national survey of 1,380 full-time employees." (Employee Benefit News; free registration required)




Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

2009 Chicago Advanced Pension Conference
in Illinois on September 2, 2009
presented by SunGard Relius

2009 Orlando Advanced Pension Conference
in Florida on February 9, 2009
presented by SunGard Relius

2010 Orlando Advanced Pension Conference
in Florida on February 17, 2010
presented by SunGard Relius



Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

'Savingsman' PSA Captures Regional Emmy Award
Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI)

SouthWest Benefits Association Elects New Board of Directors
SouthWest Benefits Association

New Networking Capabilities Introduced for Retirement Plan TPA Firms
Venture (k) Corp.



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Institutional Services Employee Benefit Operations Administration Analyst II
for BB&T
in NC

DC / 401(k) Administrator
for TPA Company
in OK

Client Relations Representative
for The Online 401k (Decimal, Inc)
in CA

Pension Administrator
for Pension Investors Corp. of Orlando
in FL

Client Service Consultant - Regional
for The Standard
in NC

Retirement Services Education & Enrollment Specialist
for Prudential Financial
in CA

Associate Pension Administrator
for Alliance Benefit Group
in MO




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