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September 11, 2008

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

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[Guidance Overview] What Working Women Need to Know about Social Security and Retirement Savings (PDF)
12 pages. The presentation is a guide to tax-qualified retirement plans. (Pension Rights Center)

[Guidance Overview] Presentation: Proposed Fee Disclosure Requirements for Participant-Directed Individual Account Plans (PDF)
25 pages. (Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP)

[Guidance Overview] Enhanced Fee Disclosure by ERISA Plan Sponsors and New Reporting for Plan Service Providers (PDF)
4 pages. Excerpt: "This update examines these [proposed] regulations as well as the impact they may have on ERISA plan sponsors." (Dechert LLP)

GAO Says DOL Should Provide Guidance for Defined Benefit Plan Investments in Hedge Funds and Private Equity
Excerpt: "The report by the Government Accountability Office recommended that the guidance include a description of the steps funds should take to address the challenges and risks of the alternative investments while meeting their fiduciary obligations under ERISA. The guidance should also specifically address the challenges that alternative investments present for smaller pension plans, the report said." (Pensions & Investments)

Employee Benefits Security Administration Notice of Meeting: Advisory Council on Employee Welfare and Pension Benefit Plans
Excerpt: "[T]he Working Groups assigned by the Advisory Council on Employee Welfare and Pension Benefit Plans to study the issues of (1) The spend down of retirement assets, (2) hard to value assets/target date funds, and (3) phased retirement, will hold a public teleconference meeting on September 29, 2008." (U.S. Employee Benefits Security Administration)

More Employers Freeze Defined-Benefit Plans
Excerpt: "The number of large employers that have frozen at least one of their defined-benefit pension plans continues to increase, according to a new survey. Of the 624 employers on the 2008 Fortune 1000 list that sponsor defined-benefit plans, 27 percent have frozen at least one of those plans, according to benefit consultant Watson Wyatt Worldwide . . . which analyzed Securities & Exchange Commission filings." (Workforce Management; free registration required)

Health Indexes and Retirement Modeling in International Comparisons
Excerpt: "It is widely believed that health plays a major role in retirement decisions. The most important problem in including health in retirement models is the lack of availability of a good measure of health at the individual level in existing data sets. This problem is exacerbated when a model spanning multiple countries is desired, because self-reports on health may not be comparable across countries. Arguably, physical measures are less influenced by cultural and linguistic differences than self-reports on general health or even on health conditions." (RAND via Social Science Research Network)

SEC Issues 401(k) Debit Card Precautions
Excerpt: "The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has posted on its website a brief list of precautions regarding 401(k) debit cards." (Wolters Kluwer)

Employer Costs for Retirement and Savings Plans, June 2008
Excerpt: "In June 2008, average costs in private industry for retirement and savings benefits were 95 cents per hour worked, or 3.6 percent of total compensation." (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

DOL's Employee Benefits Security Administration Offers Abandoned Plan Program Workshops
Excerpt: "The Abandoned Plan Program workshop, scheduled from 1 to 3 p.m. EDT (again, in both locations), is designed for employee benefit professionals and will cover the federal regulations governing abandoned plans. Issues to be discussed include: what is an abandoned plan; how to terminate and wind down the plan; and who may initiate and carry out the process of terminating an abandoned plan. . . . The September 18 Pittsburgh workshop will be held at the Radisson Hotel Pittsburgh Greentree located at 101 Radisson Drive in Pittsburgh. The September 16 Silver Springs workshop will be held at EBSA's Washington District Office, 1335 East West Highway (first floor) in Silver Spring." (; free registration required)

Portland Considers Letting Go of $3M Overpayments
Excerpt: "The Portland Fire and Police Disability and Retirement Fund board of trustees voted unanimously to ask the Internal Revenue Service if the fund can simply stop the overpayment of retirees' pensions and not recover the $3.1 million erroneously paid out. According to The Oregonian, the trustees say they are concerned about how the mistake that went unnoticed for 13 years may impact the fund's tax-qualified status about their fiduciary responsibility to follow the city charter that governs the fund." (; free registration required)

Nation's Largest Union Calls on Pension Boards to Stop Risking Retiree Pension Money
Excerpt: "Activists picketed outside the State of Wisconsin Board of Investment (SWIB), calling on the board to stop risking state workers' pension fund money during the fund's monthly meeting here Wednesday, Sept. 10. The protestors are targeting pension fund involvement in a Lazard-affiliated fund which owns Atria Senior Living, one of the largest senior living chains in the United States. The Lazard-affiliated fund has consistently underperformed and has even lost millions since its inception in 1998." (MarketWatch)

Pension Agency to Go to Court vs Delphi and GM
Excerpt: "The U.S. government's pension insurance agency has told bankrupt auto parts maker Delphi Corp (DPHIQ.PK: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) it would go to court on Friday to secure a claim on an additional $900 million in Delphi assets, The Wall Street Journal said." (Reuters)

NFL Pension Controversy Continues As Ex-Players Grow Increasingly Bitter
Excerpt: "In an Indianapolis Star survey of players who played five years or more for the Baltimore or Indianapolis Colts, 30 of the 35 respondents (86 percent) said their pension plan either 'doesn't go far enough' or 'doesn't go nearly far enough,' the most unfavorable of five choices. A similar percentage responded the same way to whether medical and disability benefits are satisfactory." (

IRA Assets and Contributions, 2007 (PDF)
Pages 2-9 of 16 pages. Excerpt: "IRAs are the largest repository of U.S. retirement wealth: Total IRA assets are larger than those accumulated in either private-sector defined benefit (pension) plans or defined contribution (401(k)-type) plans. At year-end 2007, IRAs held $4.75 trillion, private-sector defined contribution (401(k)-type) plans held $3.49 trillion, and private-sector defined benefit plans held $2.33 trillion. IRA growth continues to be fueled by rollovers from other types of retirement plans, not new contributions." (Employee Benefit Research Institute)

Shapiro Haber & Urmy LLP Announces ERISA Investigation of Fannie Mae Employee Stock Ownership Plan
Excerpt: "Shapiro Haber & Urmy LLP . . . announces that it has commenced an investigation against present and former officers and directors of the Federal National Mortgage Association . . . for potential violations of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 . . . . The investigation focuses on investments in Company stock in the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) Employee Stock Ownership Plan . . . ." (GlobeNewswire, Inc. via MarketWatch)

Defined Benefit Pension Plans: Guidance Needed to Better Inform Plans of the Challenges and Risks of Investing in Hedge Funds and Private Equity (PDF)
71 pages. Excerpt: "[GAO was asked to examine (1) the extent to which defined benefit pension] plans invest in hedge funds and private equity; (2) the potential benefits and challenges of hedge fund investments; (3) the potential benefits and challenges of private equity investments; and (4) what mechanisms regulate and monitor pension plan investments in hedge funds and private equity. To answer these questions GAO interviewed relevant federal agencies, public and private pension plans, industry groups and investment professionals, and analyzed available survey data." (U.S. Government Accountability Office)

[Opinion] Public Pensions Save Taxpayer Money, according to letter from National Institute on Retirement Security
Excerpt: "The Las Vegas Review-Journal on Sept. 11 runs a NIRS letter regarding the Public Employees' Retirement System of Nevada. The [letter says the] paper 'missed the facts' and even the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce concedes the system is 'well-managed and prudently administered.' [The letter is at]" (National Institute on Retirement Security)

[Opinion] ASPPA Testimony before the ERISA Advisory Council's Working Group on Spend Down of Defined Contribution Assets at Retirement (PDF)
7 pages. Excerpt: "Proposed Change: Encourage plans to offer participants the opportunity to elect a portion of their benefits in a lump sum/IRA rollover and a portion (a minimum percentage or dollar amount) as an annuity or a set of fixed payments. Reason for Change: Even when participants prefer a lifetime guarantee, it is difficult for them to commit 100% of their benefit to an annuity payment. There is a psychological desire to have a portion available as needed for unanticipated living expenses or for the initial expenses of the transition to retirement." (American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries)

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Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

[Guidance Overview] Employee Benefits Update, September 2008 (PDF)
5 pages. This issue examines the following topics: Same-sex marriage; LaRue decision and lawsuits against plan fiduciaries; Section 404(c) compliance; Finding and fixing qualified plan mistakes; 7-day safe harbor for forwarding employee contributions to small plans; and, IRS opens determination letter cycle for preapproved defined contributions plans. (Snell & Wilmer LLP)

[Guidance Overview] Revenue Procedure May Provide New Automatic Change in Accounting Method for Employee Bonuses
Excerpt: "Revenue Procedure 2008-52 creates a new automatic accounting method change for employee bonuses, which may allow employers that have been using an impermissible accounting method to switch to a permissible method in some situations. This is effective for change requests filed on or after August 18, 2008 for a year of change ending on or after December 31, 2007. The revenue procedure and Announcement 2008-84 provide some transition rules for requests previously filed and for some not yet filed." (Deloitte via

[Guidance Overview] IRS PLR Illustrates Factors Used to Determine If Worker Is Employee Subject to Federal Employment Taxes
Excerpt: "Relying on the factors enumerated in Treasury Regulations, IRS has issued a private letter ruling illustrating the application of three key categories – behavioral control, financial control and the parties' relationship – in determining whether a worker is an employee subject to FICA, FUTA and income tax withholding. Private Letter Ruling 200835025, Issued May 21, 2008 (Released August 29, 2008)." (Deloitte via

Domestic Partner Benefits: Facts and Background, September 2008 Update (PDF)
Pages 10- of 16 pages. Excerpt: "Most employers that offer domestic partner benefits to their workers offer a range of only low-cost benefits, such as family/bereavement/sick leave, relocation benefits, access to employer facilities, and attendance at employer functions. However, most public attention involving domestic partner benefits concerns employers that offer health insurance coverage to domestic partners." (Employee Benefit Research Institute)

Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

Learn how to use's plan document software
Nationwide on September 11, 2008
presented by

National ERISA Fiduciary ExecuSummit
in New York on November 4, 2008
presented by ExecuSummit

New DOL Fee Disclosures Rules For Service Providers
in District of Columbia on September 24, 2008
presented by WEB (Worldwide Employee Benefits Network) Washington Chapter

Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

ASPPA Proposes Improvements for Longevity of Retirement Savings
ASPPA (American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries)

U.S. Labor Department Obtains Civil Contempt Order Against Trustees Of California-Based Health Benefit Fund
U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)

Council Tells DOL Panel: Participant Education Essential To Addressing ‘Decumulation’ Problem
American Benefits Council

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OmniPlus Consultants
for Chesapeake Benefit Partners

Pension Consultant & Daily Valuation Administrator
for M.L.Kerns & Associates, L.L.C.
in TX

Defined Benefit Pension Administrator
for Stephen H. Rosen & Associates, Inc.
in NJ

Compliance Director
for MassMutual Financial Group
in MA

Data Analyst - Defined Benefits
for Vanguard
in PA

Senior Care Management Consultant
for Towers Perrin
in IL, NY

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