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October 5, 2011 Get Health & Welfare News  |  Advertise  |  Unsubscribe  |  Past Issues  |  Search

Employee Benefits Jobs

Education Consultant
for AXA Equitable in FL, TX

DC/DB Administrator
for NICHOLAS PENSION CONSULTANTS in CA

Senior Business/Technical Analyst
for Enterprise Iron Financial in ANY STATE

Client Relationship Manager
for 24 Hour Flex (a division of RPS Plan Administrators) in CO

Communications Writer/Designer
for UNITE HERE HEALTH in IL

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Webcasts and Conferences

2011 "Best Practices" Conference
in Massachusetts on December 8, 2011 presented by New England Employee Benefits Council

Countdown to Year End - What You Need to Do to Keep Your Plans in Compliance
Nationwide on October 25, 2011 presented by ABA Joint Committee on Employee Benefits


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[Guidance Overview]
Breach of Fiduciary Duty Case Addressed by 7th Circuit
"On September 6, 2011, in Loomis v. Exelon Corp.[the court] found that the fiduciaries of Exelon Corporation's defined contribution retirement plan did not breach their fiduciary duties by offering 'retail' mutual funds (i.e. funds that are available to the general public), nor by requiring participants to bear the expenses of those funds." (Seyfarth Shaw LLP)


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Why the Bear Market May Be Good for Your 401(k)
"[I]n the long run, the decline may be good news for a lot of ordinary people: steady, long-term investors who contribute part of every paycheck to a 401(k), and who aren't planning to retire anytime soon." (NPR)

Liberal Grandfather Rule Saps Usefulness of New Illinois Law Prohibiting 'Double-Dipping', Some Say
The Associated Press article describes criticisms of Illinois' new law prohibiting double-dipping; it prevent reemployment as a full-time government contractor when a pension is already in pay status, but only with respect to persons whose state employment begins after January 1, 2012. (BND.com)

American Airlines DB Plan Takeover Talks 'Premature', Says PBGC
"Even when a company goes into Chapter 11 bankrup.tcy protection, the fate of its pension plans depends on how the reorganization is handled, the PBGC spokesman said in an interview." (Business Insurance)

New Hampshire Panel Proposes Supplanting State's Retirement System
"The plan being discussed would have two systems in place at once, one for all current workers, and one for those hired after the new plan goes into effect. The current New Hampshire Retirement System would continue to operate for decades. As membership shrinks, all its assets would be paid out to retirees as annuities . . . ." (UnionLeader.com)


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How Obama's Tax Cuts Could Affect Your Retirement
"One of the tax measures discussed in the proposed plan is the limiting of the deductions and exclusions for those who make more than $250,000 per year. It is possible that this could have an adverse affect on the amount contributed to retirement savings by those who make $250,000 or more, since it changes the amount of income they can afford to save." (Investopedia US via San Francisco Chronicle)

American Airlines Pilot Retirements Fuel Parent AMR Corp. Bankrup.tcy Fears
"'We are in a down market today, but the exceptional number of American pilots retiring is a sign that they want to protect their pensions and get out before a possible filing further [depresses] the stock price,' said Ray Neidl, an analyst with Maxim Group LLC." (MarketWatch, Inc.)

Re-Enrollment and Target-Date Funds Protect Retirement Plan Fiduciaries
"[Target-date funds, when paired with an ERISA safe harbor,] can shield plan sponsors and fiduciaries from liabilities associated with participant investing." (AdvisorOne)

Poor Economy and Pension Issues Challenge Clergy of All Denominations
"Like their secular counterparts, many clergy who devoted their attention to less temporal matters than financial planning now find themselves amid shrinking church budgets and a poor economy being forced to work beyond traditional retirement ages. It is an especially critical issue in smaller churches that still do not set aside money for clergy retirement." (The Association of Religion Data Archives)

Regulators Urged to Exclude Stable-Value Contracts from Swaps Restrictions
"Regulators should clarify that stable-value contracts fall outside the Dodd-Frank Act's 'swaps' definition, or use their authority to exempt these contracts from the law's swaps restrictions, the American Benefits Council (ABC) urges. Stable-value contracts are temporarily exempt while regulators study whether to treat them as swaps. If swaps restrictions apply, ABC warns, 401(k)-type plans may have to discontinue an 'extremely popular, conservative investment option.'" (Mercer LLC)

Fact Sheet on Benefits Provision for Massachusetts State Public Worker Retirees (PDF)
"The median retirement benefit of $36,692/yr. provided by the state retirement system for full-career retirees is neither overly generous nor unreasonably low, considering that these individuals would not be eligible for Social Security." (McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies, Gerontology Institute, University of Massachusetts Boston)

How Employers Raid Pension Plans
"'Spiraling costs force us to freeze your pensions.' That's partly true—but not the whole story. A little over a decade ago, pension plans had $250 bil.lion in surplus assets. But employers siphoned billions from the pension plans to pay for restructuring costs, often by providing additional payouts in lieu of severance, and by withdrawing money to pay retiree health benefits—and in some cases parachutes for executives." (The Wall Street Journal)

Required Minimum Distributions: Start Distributions Year Turn 70-1/2 or the Year After
"IRS tables generally require taxpayers to start with a distribution that's based on their year-end balance before reaching 70-1/2." (Financial Planning and SourceMedia, Inc.)

Social Security COLA Increase Likely for 2012
"Officials won't announce the specifics of the raise until later in October, but given that prices of gas and other goods have risen, a COLA is certain for more than 58 mil.lion beneficiaries." (AARP)

Video/Text: Competing Interests Have Different Views on Rhode Island Pension Reform
"To the business executive, it means 401(k)-style savings plans. To the union leader, it means keeping a promise and not punishing workers for the sins of past elected officials. To the city council president, it means trying to restore all-day kindergarten classes and summer parks programs. And to the retiree in an assisted-living facility, it means trying to save her cost-of-living allowance so she can afford her care." (The Providence Journal Co.)

Retirement Planning Amid Market Mayhem
"Long, bad periods for stocks have always been followed by long, strong rising trends, although no one can predict when the next one will begin. In the meantime, anyone in or near retirement needs enough financial security to get through the current crises. Generally speaking, you have three things to consider." (AARP)

Pre-Retirees Today Faced with New Triple Threat to Retirement Security
"Even those who think they are doing the best retirement planning possible may run into some unexpected challenges." (Forbes.com LLC)

[Opinion]
How Generous Are Federal Employee Pensions?
"Put it this way: federal employees have a more generous defined contribution pension than most private sector workers, and on top of this they have a defined benefit plan for which they pay less than 1 percent of salaries. State and local workers who participate in Social Security usually have more generous DB plans (a replacement factor of around 1.9 percent of final earnings versus 1 or 1.1 percent for federal employees, according to the Public Plans Database), but they pay far more for their benefits: almost 5 percent of pay versus less than 1 percent for federal employees." (American Enterprise Institute)

[Opinion]
Morningstar Mutual Fund Selection for Its 401(k) Plan
"I feel sorry for Morningstar's employees. The fund selections represent everything that is wrong with 401(k) plans in this country. Here are some suggestions for Morningstar's committee. They reflect finance 101." (TheHuffingtonPost.com, Inc.)

Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

[Guidance Overview]
Tax-Free Treatment of Cell Phones all Without the Burdensome Recordkeeping
"Employers and employees should note, however, that cell phones and personal cell phone use that is not primarily for business purposes remains taxable." (Verrill Dana, LLP)

Adverse Tax Consequences for Certain Executives Covered by NDCPs as Result of DB Plan Funding Status
"Companies that sponsor nonqualified deferred compensation plans with associated rabbi trusts should identify the qualified pension plans within their control group and be aware of such plans' funded status. In addition, companies should review their nonqualified deferred compensation plans, rabbi trust agreements, and agreements with third-party service providers to determine how the funding restrictions could impact their deferred compensation plan administration." (Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP)

IRS Publishes Rules on Business Expenses
"The [IRS] has issued Revenue Procedure 2011–47 which provides rules for employees, volunteers, and partners who are reimbursed for lodging, meals, and incidental expenses, or meals and incidental expenses only, while traveling away from home." (PLANSPONSOR.COM)

Comparing Wealth in Retirement: State-Local Versus Private Sector Workers
"The question of comparability of compensation in the state-local and private sectors was the focus of a recent Issue in Brief. The conclusion was that wages for workers with similar characteristics, education, and experience were higher in the private sector than the public, but benefits for state-local workers roughly offset the wage penalty." (Center for Retirement Research at Boston College)

Benefits Managers Move from Traditional to Innovative Communication Strategies
"She proposed three things HR managers and employers can do to help their employees understand their benefits: . . . Put your benefits information online, outside your firewall." (Employee Benefit News)

Press Releases



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