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September 22, 2008

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


Today's sponsor is DATAIR Employee Benefit Systems, Inc.

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[Guidance Overview] 9th Circuit Decides QJSA Tug of War in Favor of Spouse at Time of Retirement
Excerpt: "[T]he 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decided whether or not a participant in a plan with a Qualified Joint and Survivor Annuity (QJSA) may change the surviving spouse beneficiary after the participant has retired and the annuity has become payable. In Caruso v. Caruso, No. 06-15938 (CA9 Sept. 17, 2008), the Court held that the 'QJSA surviving spouse benefits irrevocably vest in the participant's spouse at the time of the annuity start date - in this case the participant's retirement - and may not be reassigned to a subsequent spouse.'" (Pension Protection Act Blog)


[Guidance Overview] Canadian Federal Appeal Court Rules on Distribution of Pension Surplus (PDF)
1 page. Excerpt: "The appeal court overturned a lower federal court judgment (Cousins v. Attorney General of Can.ada and Marine Atlantic Inc.) and ruled that there was no statutory requirement to distribute a proportionate share of surplus on a partial termination of a pension plan." (Towers Perrin)


[Guidance Overview] Fixing Your 403(b) Plan: Adopting a Best Practices Approach (PDF)
5 pages. (The Standard)


[Guidance Overview] IRS Refines its Fix-It Program — The Employee Plan Compliance Resolution System — in Revenue Procedure 2008-50 (PDF)
Pages 4-5 of 7 pages. Excerpt: "The three components of EPCRS have not changed: (1) the Self-Correction Program (SCP); (2) the Voluntary Correction Program (VCP), and (3) the Audit Closing Agreement Program (Audit CAP), but the Revenue Procedure makes a number of modifications to those programs, which are briefly highlighted [in the target paper]." (Miller & Chevalier Chartered)


Recorded Webcast: Defined Benefit Pension Plans Amid Market Volatility
Excerpt: "For a finance executive confronting volatile market conditions, what's the right balance of risk and return in a defined benefit (DB) pension plan? If you're committed to a DB plan, what strategies can remove excessive risk? Or is it time to refresh your exit strategy? Towers Perrin and CFO Research Services have completed a study that examines the risk management approaches that finance executives have already taken for their defined benefit pension programs in the United States and Can.ada." (Towers Perrin)


International Update, September 2008, Recent Developments in Foreign Public and Private Pensions
Excerpt: "This monthly publication covers recent developments in foreign private and public pensions, social security, and retirement." (U.S. Social Security Administration)


National Save for Retirement Week, October 19-25, 2008
See the Plan Sponsor Resource Center on the right side of the page. (National Association of Government Defined Contribution Administrators, Inc.)


Advice, Participant Fee Disclosure Proposals Covered in EBSA Web Cast
Excerpt: "The U.S. Department of Labor's Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) will host a free web cast next week to help employers and plan administrators understand recent regulatory and interpretative guidance under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). [You can register for the September 25 Webcast here.]" (PLANSPONSOR.com; free registration required)


Another Reason Not to Use Your Pension before Retirement: ERISA Offset
Excerpt: "Every year thousands of people are wrongfully denied long-term disability benefits from their insurance company. Often, these individuals will take early withdrawal from their retirement plan in order to meet basic living expenses while appealing the denial of benefits. As a result, they are left with nothing to fund their retirement and because of the disability, no means of ever earning that income again. To add insult to injury, once the disability carrier decides that they were wrong and should not have denied benefits, they also take credit for the income received from the individual's pension, IRA or other retirement plan." (Florida Disability & LTD Weblog)


Safety Nets Depend on the Kind of Assets You Own
Excerpt: "There are safety nets to catch you when your financial institution fails, but how much protection you have depends largely on the kind of assets you own and where you hold them, be they certificates of deposit, a pension plan or a checking account." (The Seattle Times)


Baby Boomers Come Face to Face with America's Faltering Economy
Excerpt: "For retirement-minded boomers, the current economic slowdown -- not to mention last week's dizzying stock market -- couldn't have come at a worse time. And, for boomers who haven't saved as much as they should have or would have liked to, it's serving as one very stark wake-up call." (Las Vegas Review-Journal)


Workers Get Vote on Waste Management Proposal
Excerpt: "Waste Management's proposal would create a new 401(k) pension plan and release the company and employees from the Teamsters' failing Central States Pension Fund, company spokeswoman Lynn Morgan said. In March, Central States was forced to declare itself to be in 'critical' condition under the criteria established by the U.S. Treasury Department for underfunded pension plans. 'This contract provides Waste Management employees greater retirement security and gets the company out from under bottomless liability for pension fund expenses,' Morgan said." (MarketWatch)


[Opinion] Testimony Presented by Dr. Susan Mangiero to ERISA Advisory Council Working Group on Hard to Value Assets (PDF)
14 pages. Excerpt: "I concur with others who assert that additional regulation would be redundant and arguably counterproductive. For one thing, empirical evidence suggests that a 'one size fits all' mandate could induce perverse outcomes. Plan sponsors may get overly scared about investing in 'hard to value assets' and ignore them altogether rather than conducting a thorough analysis as to their suitability. I don't believe it is the current intent of any regulator to have plan fiduciaries automatically shrink the universe of possible product and/or strategies." (Pension Governance, LLC)


[Opinion] Keep Wall Street Out of the Retirement Business
Excerpt: "Question is, in light of the current turmoil in the financial markets, should Wall Street manage any of our long-term retirement savings funds? Is the 401(k) plan, which has become the main retirement savings vehicle for the American worker over the past three decades, a mistake? The case for rethinking the 401(k) as a pillar of retirement savings is compelling." (BusinessWeek)



Sponsored by: Ascensus

(Click on company name or banner to learn more.)
Banner ad for Ascensus

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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)

Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

[Guidance Overview] 11th Cir. Follows Glenn in Denial of Benefit Case
Excerpt: "In Doyle v. Liberty Life Assurance Co. of Boston, No. 07-10348 (11th Cir. Sept. 18, 2008), the Eleventh Circuit abandoned the heightened arbitrary and capricious review for denial of benefit claims under ERISA which have structural conflicts." (Workplace Prof Blog)


[Guidance Overview] Posting SPD on Company Intranet does not Satisfy ERISA's Disclosure Requirements (PDF)
Pages 4 of 7 pages. Excerpt: "As illustrated by a recent unpublished Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision (Gertjejansen v. Kemper Insurance Companies, Inc., No. 06-563929 (9th Cir. 2008)), employers should use caution in determining how to distribute required disclosure documents - such as Summary Plan Descriptions (SPDs) - to plan participants, particularly when considering the use of electronic means." (Miller & Chevalier Chartered)


[Guidance Overview] Reporting Requirements for Statutory Stock Options and Updates ESPP Regulations (PDF)
5 pages. Excerpt: "The IRS recently issued two sets of proposed regulations on employee stock plans. The first set addresses IRS return and employee information statement requirements related to statutory stock options, i.e., incentive stock options under Internal Revenue Code Section 422 (ISOs) or employee stock purchase plans under Section 423 (ESPPs). The second set essentially updates previous regulations to provide a comprehensive set of rules for statutory stock options granted under ESPPs, and conforms them, where appropriate, to the regulations for ISOs." (Buck Consultants)


Presentation on Tax Withholding on Restricted Stock and Unit Transactions
45 pages. An outline of the Agenda of the presentation: Tax Treatment of Restricted Stock and Units; Tax Withholding and Reporting Requirements; Tax Payment Methods; International Considerations; Acceleration of Vesting on Retirement; Dividends; and, Best Practices. (Computershare Limited)


International and Cross-Border Retirement and Fringe Benefit Plans: IRS Advisory Committee Survey Seeks Opinions of Employers, Administrators, Practitioners, Consultants
2-page Word survey questionnaire; September 30 deadline. Excerpt: The IRS Advisory Committee on Tax Exempt and Government Entities (TE/GE) (the 'ACT') is undertaking a study to identify international and cross-border activities, issues, challenges, impediments and barriers in connection with the design, coverage, portability, and tax administration of US employee retirement (qualified and non-qualified) and fringe benefit plans. (IRS Advisory Committee on Tax Exempt and Government Entities)


New York's Governor Seeks Study of Benefits at Long Island Rail Road
Excerpt: "Gov. David A. Paterson said on Sunday that he would give Andrew M. Cuomo, the state's attorney general, broad powers to investigate the Long Island Rail Road as part of a wide-ranging review his administration would seek of how disability and pension benefits were potentially manipulated by L.I.R.R. supervisors, workers and retirees." (The New York Times; free registration required)


11th Circuit Backtracks on Benefits Denial Review Standard
Excerpt: "Falling in line with a U.S. Supreme Court ruling earlier this year, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed its earlier decision relating to how employee benefit plan denials should be judged. The appellate court's latest holding deals with instances when the benefits denials were made when plan administrators operate under a conflict of interest and was driven by the Supreme Court's decision in Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. v. Glenn . . . ." (PLANSPONSOR.com; free registration required)


DOL Website Provides Updated Contact Information for Hurricane Victims
Excerpt: "The DOL announced that it has updated its website to give plan sponsors a way to provide updated contact information for hurricane victims: 'The U.S. Department of Labor's Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) today updated its Web site to give sponsors of retirement, health and other benefit plans a way to update their contact information following the disruption of operations due to Hurricanes Gustav and Ike. This information will allow employees, plan participants and their families, as well as the many support organizations that assist victims of the hurricanes, to reach plan administrators with questions and information related to their benefits." (ERISA Rules and Regulations)


ERISA Gives District Court Discretion To Award Attorney's Fees To Either Party
Excerpt: "In Pannebecker v. Liberty Life Assur. Co. of Boston, Case No. 06-16654 (9th Cir. Sept. 18, 2008), the Ninth Circuit remanded an ERISA case after determining that the appellant did establish rights to benefits for a period of time. Because this demonstrated that appellant achieved some success, remand was required for the district court to consider whether attorney's fees were awardable to appellant." (California Attorney's Fees)




Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

DOL Update: Investment Advice and Participant Fee Disclosure Proposals Webcast
Nationwide on September 25, 2008
presented by U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)

EPCRS Workshop: Preventing & Correcting Qualified Plan Problems
Nationwide on September 24, 2008
presented by ALI-ABA (American Law Institute-American Bar Association)

Health Insurance Reform: A Public Policy Debate at the State Level: What is the Employer's Role?
in Maryland on October 2, 2008
presented by Worldwide Employee Benefits Network (WEB) - Baltimore Chapter



Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

Business Roundtable Unveils Health Care Policy Plan
Business Roundtable

Entegril Signs Partnership Deal with Key Benefit Resources
Entegril

Voice Authentication Capability Enhanced on Omni Retirement Platform
SunGard



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Employee Benefits Attorney
for Hershner Hunter, LLP
in OR

401(k) / Defined Contribution Administrator
for Pension Investors Corp.
in FL

Account Manager
for Nova 401(k) Associates
in TX

HR Manager
for Taft-Hartley Joint Trust Funds
in DC, MD

Retirement Plan Specialist
for Diversified Investment Advisors
in MN

Defined Benefit Pension Administrator
for Lurie Besikof Lapidus
in MN

Pension Administrator
for Lurie Besikof Lapidus
in MN

Corporate Brokerage Services Support Senior Manager
for Charles Schwab & Co.
in AZ

Manager, Defined Contribution Client Management
for Prudential Financial
in PA

401(k) Administrator
for TPA Firm
in FL

Employee Benefits/ERISA Attorney
for Keating Muething & Klekamp PLL
in OH

Plan Document/ Research Manager
for Niles Lankford Group, Inc.
in IN

Human Resources Specialist III (Benefits Communication Specialist)
for Montgomery County Government, Maryland
in MD

Senior Account Manager
for Nemco Brokerage, Inc.
in NY

Health and Wellness Coordinator
for Nemco Brokerage, Inc.
in NY

Manager, Defined Contribution Client Management
for Prudential Financial
in PA




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