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December 24, 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.

(Click on company name or banner to learn more.)
Banner ad for DATAIR Employee Benefit Systems, Inc.

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  • Cafeteria and HRA Administration
*Limited time offer: 2 DATAIR systems for 1 license fee... plus 0% financing. Restrictions apply, contact DATAIRís sales department:
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Next BenefitsLink Newsletter is Monday, December 29
All the newsletter elves will be busy elsewhere tomorrow and then too pooped to pop on Friday, so we will see you again next week on Monday, December 29! Thank you very much for reading the BenefitsLink Newsletter. Jeanette, Holly, Mary and Dave send our best wishes to you and your family for a joyful holiday! (BenefitsLink.com)


[Guidance Overview]
PBGC Releases 2009 Data for PPA-Limited Distributions

Excerpt: "In line with its responsibility under the Pension Protection Act (PPA), the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) has provided 2009 data for the present value of its maximum guaranteed participant payment so certain underfunded plans can compute permitted distribution amounts." (PLANSPONSOR.com; free registration required)


[Guidance Overview]
Fiduciary Liability Insurance: A Risk Management Tool for Fiduciaries in a New Retirement Plan Environment (PDF)

Updated for the Pension Protection Act of 2006. 2 pages. Excerpt: "This Benefit Briefing will provide you with answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) to help you decide whether you should purchase fiduciary liability insurance." (National Benefit Services, Inc.)


[Guidance Overview]
Cycle C Retirement Plan Determination Letter Applications Are Due by February 2, 2009

Excerpt: "[The IRS has granted a brief extension because the] Jan. 31 deadline under Rev. Proc. 2007-44 falls on a Saturday in 2009. . . . The IRS notes that although Feb. 2 is Groundhog Day, applicants will not be permitted 'unlimited do-overs as in the movie by the same name.' No comment from Pursuance Phil." (Mercer LLC)


President Bush Signs Pension Relief Bill
Excerpt: "The bill allows retirees to avoid making withdrawals from depleted 401(k)s, IRAs, and 403(b)s in 2009. But seniors over age 70 ? need to take withdrawals this year by December 31 or face an excise tax of 50 percent of the amount that should have been withdrawn plus income tax. The Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service also considered suspending the penalty for 2008, but ultimately decided against it. Businesses will also get temporary relief from their pension funding requirements under the Pension Protection Act." (U.S. News & World Report)


Companies That Have Changed or Temporarily Suspended Their 401(k) Matching Contributions
Excerpt: "[The target page] is a list of employers that have announced plans to change or stop making matching contributions to their employees' 401(k) plan accounts since June 2008. For details on each company's decision, click the employer's name to see the company's press release or news story announcing the change." (Pension Rights Center)


Moving to a Roth IRA in a Bear Market
Excerpt: "Shell-shocked by the stock market's recent collapse, many of your clients may not be in the mood to talk about much except the weather, let alone the advantages of reengineering their IRAs. But you may want to push them to have this talk. Experts say that the turn in the market presents new opportunities for investors. Outside of tax-loss harvesting, converting an ordinary IRA into a Roth IRA may be one of the few ways for an investor to profit from this year's miserable performance." (On Wall Street)


The U.S. Retirement Market, Second Quarter 2008 (PDF)
27 pages. Excerpt: "U.S. retirement assets totaled $16.9 trillion as of June 30, 2008, about unchanged from March 31, 2008. Retirement savings accounted for 36 percent of all household financial assets in the United States." (Investment Company Institute)


Starbucks to Exercise Discretion in 401(k) Matching
Excerpt: "Giant coffee retailer Starbucks Corp. has informed employees it will switch to a 'fully discretionary match' from a 'fixed employer match' for its 401(k) plan, beginning January 1. The Wall Street Journal revealed the move in a news account which quoted a letter to employees sent last week. The report said the move allows the company more leeway in deciding whether to fund a match contribution in future years, and the company said any 2009 match may be at a different rate than is currently used. The Journal said it saw the letter and company officials separately confirmed its contents." (PLANSPONSOR.com; free registration required)


Retirees Consider Reallocating Assets in Wake of Market Decline
Excerpt: "A new MetLife study finds that 42% of retirees surveyed are considering reallocating their assets to products that may provide a higher rate of return." (PLANSPONSOR.com; free registration required)


U.S.-Canada Tax Protocol Takes Effect Jan. 1, Providing Mutual Recognition of Retirement Plans
Excerpt: "The protocol eases costs and complications for firms employing people across the Can.ada-US border, regardless of whether the individual continues to participate in the home country pension plan or is covered by the pension of the host employment location. The protocol also addresses, among other things, salary and stock option income." (Mercer LLC)


[Opinion]
401(k) Plan Cash Equivalent Investment Options

Excerpt: "From a modern portfolio theory perspective, cash equivalents anchor the efficient frontier and are necessary both as a standalone option or to modify the risk profile of a portfolio of either bonds or stocks, in order to meet the normal range requirement. Therefore, it is often interpreted to be a required core asset in a 401(k) plan." (Fiduciary Investor)



ASPPA and IRS (Sponsor)

(Click on company name or banner to learn more.)
Banner ad for ASPPA and IRS

Los Angeles Benefits Conference - January 29-30 - Los Angeles, CA

Pension Legislation just passed, why not kick-off 2009 by staying current! Get the latest news by attending the Washington Update. Ask questions directly to the IRS and DOL and hear about fee and participant disclosure from the nations most prominent speakers. Don't wait, register NOW, discounts apply!


Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

2009 Reporting & Disclosure Calendar for Benefit Plans (PDF)
27 pages. Excerpt: "Sibson Consulting's 2009 Reporting & Disclosure Calendar for Benefit Plans summarizes compliance requirements for qualified, single employer benefit plans. [An online interactive version is at http://www.sibson.com/publications-and-resources/rd-calendar/.]" (The Segal Group, Inc.)


The Year in Review for Human Resource Management
Excerpt: "The impact of the faltering economy on workers and their retirement savings, dealing with a presidential election that seemed to last forever, and more than a few regulatory and legal changes -- including substantial revisions of the FMLA and ADA -- were some of the events that kept HR leaders hopping during 2008." (Human Resource Executive Online)


New Definitions of Employee Access to Paid Sick Leave and Retirement Benefits in the National Compensation Survey
Excerpt: "The National Compensation Survey (NCS) has recently broadened its definitions of access to sick leave, retirement benefits, and, within the category of retirement benefits, defined contribution plans and defined benefit plans. The new definitions of access have been applied in the calculation of sick leave and retirement benefits, resulting in new estimates for these variables." (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)


Severance Includes Outplacement and Financial Planning, According to Survey Results
Excerpt: "Employers participating in a recent severance package benchmarking survey offer both outplacement services and financial planning to their laid-off employees. The poll by HR consultant Right Management of HR executives and other senior managers responsible for severance issues found that 81% of the 399 U.S. executives questioned provide outplacement services (61% of the 1,227 surveyed worldwide)." (PLANSPONSOR.com; free registration required)




Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

Truth in Pricing: Understanding the Pharmacy Benefit Manager Business Model
in Maryland on January 8, 2009
presented by Worldwide Employee Benefits Network (WEB) - Baltimore Chapter

Joint Meeting with the Disability Management Employer Coalition: Managing Chronic Disabilities in the Work Place - Extended Meeting
in Illinois on January 22, 2009
presented by WEB - Chicago West



Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

ERIC Statement on Signing by the President of the Worker, Retiree, and Employer Recovery Act of 2008
ERIC (ERISA Industry Committee)

Enactment Of Pension Relief Measure ďA Critical First StepĒ
American Benefits Council

412(e)(3) Plans Post Gains In 2008; Outperformed The S+P 500 For The Decade
Executive Benefits Design Group

National Conference on Health Care Consumerism Honors RelayHealth
RelayHealth



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Insurance Specialist/Case Manager/Underwriter
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Retirement Plan Administrator
for Firm in South Kansas City
in MO

Retirement Plan Administrator
for Findley Davies, Inc.
in OH




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