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April 10, 2012 Get Health & Welfare News  |  Advertise  |  Unsubscribe  |  Past Issues  |  Search

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Operations Manager
for retirement advisory services corp in PA

PAS Client Services Manager
for Milliman in CO

PAS Client Services Manager
for Milliman in TX

Senior DB Data Analyst
for Diversified in MA

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Webcasts and Conferences

Employee Plans Enforcement Priorities for 2012
in California on April 19, 2012 presented by Western Pension & Benefits Conference - Orange County Chapter

Shifting the Cost Paradigm with Big Data and Prepayment Analytics
in California on May 16, 2012 presented by MCOL

Claims Processing: A Collaborative Effort
Nationwide on April 26, 2012 presented by MCOL

Annual Education Workshop
in Florida on April 16, 2012 presented by Florida West Coast Employee Benefits Council

Keeping Your 403(b) Compliant - Clean-up on Aisle Three
Nationwide on May 16, 2012 presented by National Institute of Pension Administrators

Distributions: Retirement Planning
Nationwide on May 23, 2012 presented by National Institute of Pension Administrators

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[Guidance Overview]
Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals Affirms Summary Judgment in Favor of Plan Sponsor in ADEA Case Challenging Target Benefit Plan
In Northwest Airlines, Inc. v. Phillips, the 8th Circuit has rejected a claim of age discrimination by a group of older airline pilots, who challenged the formula used in a target benefit plan created as part of the airline's bankrup.tcy proceeding in which benefits under the airline's defined benefit plan were frozen. (

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[Guidance Overview]
Service-Provider Fee Disclosures Mean Plan Sponsors Must Be More Involved, More Scrupulous in 2012
"In reality, retirement plan sponsors are inheriting a sea change in their fiduciary role and responsibilities, and many will be seeking assistance to understand and appropriately implement effective practices for compliance. This paper ... provide[s] a brief background of the 408(b)(2) and 404(a)(5) rules, strategies plan sponsors may implement for compliance, as well as an overview of how plan sponsors' vendor relationships may be enhanced through these new regulatory mandates." (Roland|Criss and Life & Health Advisor Online)

[Guidance Overview]
What 'Plan Asset Funds' and Investment Managers Must Know About the DOL Fee Disclosure Regs
"[T]his alert ... discuss[es] how the final regulation, which was issued under Section 408(b)(2) of ERISA, applies to managers of investment funds that are deemed to hold the 'plan assets' of plans subject to ERISA and to investment managers or investment advisers to ERISA plans.... In the case of a plan asset fund, the general partner (if the fund is a partnership), the manager (if the fund is an LLC), and/or an investment manager or investment adviser to the fund usually will be covered service providers subject to the disclosure requirements, because usually these parties will be 'fiduciaries' under ERISA. Accountants and other non-fiduciary service providers to a plan asset fund are not subject to the disclosure requirements." (DLA Piper)

Bill Encourages Public Pension Plans to Put California Projects First; Advances on Unanimous, Bipartisan Vote
"Senate Bill 955, a bill allowing public pension funds to prioritize investments in California infrastructure projects over out-of-state projects, passed on a unanimous, bipartisan vote in the Senate's Public Employment and Retirement Committee today." (Studio City Patch)

Winding Down Your Hard-Frozen Defined Benefit Plan
"Best practices for efficient management of hard-frozen DB plans leading up to and throughout the termination process should first focus on the protection of benefit security for participants and retirees and then reduction of plan sponsor financial risk. The objective of this white paper is to describe best practices for executing the termination of a hard-frozen DB plan." (Principal Financial Group)

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GAO Reports on State Efforts to Improve Sustainability of Government Pension Plans
"35 states reduced pension benefits by either adjusting the benefit formula, raising the age or service requirement, or reducing postretirement increases—or a combination of more than one of these.... 24 states adjusted the benefit formula, 29 states raised the age or service requirement, and 18 states reduced postretirement increases. Due to legal restrictions these changes tend to apply only to future employees[.]" (Deloitte)

PBGC Enforcing Facility Closure Rule Despite Promise to Revise It, Practitioners Say (PDF)
"The [PBGC] is stepping up its enforcement efforts on violations of Section 4062(e) of [ERISA], speakers said during an actuarial conference March 28.... In a letter dated Dec. 16, 2011, several groups from the pension industry expressed concern to [the PBGC's directory] that agents of PBGC were enforcing the controversial proposed rule [issued in August 2010]." (Bloomberg BNA)

Special Fund on Santa Clara County Property Tax Bill Pays for Employee Pensions
"Since 1945, Santa Clara County is the only county in California where taxpayers have been subsidizing [police department employee] retirements through a special fund that appears on your property tax bill. That fund also helps pay retirement costs for the county's other 14,550 employees.... In California, only residents in 24 cities and Santa Clara County pay extra property taxes for retirement programs[.]" (San Jose Mercury News)

California Teachers' Pension Plan Shortfall Grows
"The unfunded liability climbed 13 percent to $64.5 bil.lion as of June 30, according to a report from actuaries released Monday. The system had about 69 percent of assets needed to cover promises to current and future retirees at the end of fiscal 2011, down from about 71 percent a year earlier." (San Francisco Chronicle)

Pension Reform Panel Looking at Alternative Hybrid Plan
"State lawmakers considering pension reform are ... looking at a hybrid pension plan offered by the state teachers retirement system as a possible model.... Assemblyman Warren Furutani ... said a concept his committee is considering would include a cap on defined benefits and, above that, provide a cash balance plan that would guarantee the principal and a rate of return tied to treasury bonds." (Los Angeles Times)

Stunning Academic Study May Cause DOL to Retain Original Proposal for Fiduciary Definition
"[A study by two professors entitled] 'The Impact of the Broker-Dealer Fiduciary Standard on Financial Advice' ... has revealed a stunning conclusion: IRA investors and the brokerage industry are both statistically unlikely to suffer—and some may actually benefit—should the DOL adopt its new Fiduciary Rule as originally proposed." (Fiduciary News)

IRS Issues 2011 Form 8955-SSA And Instructions
"The form is substantially the same as the 2010 form. The IRS notes that it has created a page on its website about Form 8955-SSA:" (Wolters Kluwer Law & Business / CCH)

Service Providers Finally 'Ahead of the Curve' for 401(k) Disclosures
"91 of 100 plan sponsors surveyed were satisfied with the fee disclosure communication they had received so far from plan service providers, including record keepers, fund providers and financial advisers." (Investment News)

Defined Contribution Equals Social Security in Retirement Importance to Baby Boomers
"Defined contribution retirement plans now equal Social Security in importance when it comes to retirement security among people ages 50 to 66, according to a new survey from the Insured Retirement Institute.... Even fewer baby boomers are relying on a defined benefit plan, according to the survey, with 42% relying on employer-provided defined contribution plans, compared to 36% last year." (Pensions & Investments)

Federal Employee Retirement Claims Backlog Is Down Since January
"The Office of Personnel Management processed more retirement claims in March than in the previous two months, making a dent in its backlog despite an increase in claims, according to agency figures.... The agency received 7,090 new claims in March, 2,090 more than it expected and 675 more than were submitted in February. OPM has received 34,984 new submissions since the beginning of the year." (Government Executive)

Social Security Claims Edged Down in 2011
"After peaking in the wake of the Great Recession, Social Security retirement and disability awards fell in 2011 as the economy improved. Only 27 percent of Americans age 62 and older began collecting retirement benefits that year, the lowest take-up rate since 1976. Disability applications and awards remained unusually high, however." (Urban Institute )

Majority of Boomers Lack Optimism in Their Financial Future
"With the economy still recovering from the financial crisis and recession, few Boomers are optimistic that their financial situation will improve during the next five year as 62 percent believe it will be about the same or that it will deteriorate. The study also found that confidence in retirement security is severely depressed with only 36 percent of Boomers being confident in having enough assets to live comfortably during retirement." (Insured Retirement Institute)

Publicly Run Pensions for Private Employers Invite Trouble
"[G]overnment leaders in California, Rhode Island and New York City, among other places ... want to open state and metropolitan pension plans to employees at private companies. The idea is to create an idiot-proof, low-cost retirement plan run by top-flight managers.... The people behind this idea mean well. But they have come up with a plan that invites all sorts of political manipulation.... [P]articipants in these new pension plans ... might ask for higher guaranteed returns, or perhaps public contributions to their funds. They might even lobby to have their funds turned into defined benefit plans. Politicians, looking no further ahead than the next election, would comply." (The Town Talk)

Illinois is the Public Pension Basket Case You Forgot About
"My biggest fear ... is that the same 'debt lunatics' sounding the alarm on debt (it's not a debt crisis but an unemployment crisis!) calling for savage austerity will use Illinois' pension basket case and countless others to kill defined-benefit plans, reducing coverage, increasing pension poverty and exacerbating economic inequality. This is the crime of the century, one that will end up costing societies a lot more over the long-run." (Pension Pulse)

Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

[Guidance Overview]
Another Question is Answered in the Who's the Employer Q&A Column
I am a pastor of a church. Am I considered an employee of the church, or instead am I a self-employed independent contractor? (

Many Public Workers Agree They Have It Better Than Private Sector Peers
"Nearly half of government workers in the survey—46 percent—agreed they don't work as hard as their private sector counterparts ... The government employees did differ in how they viewed their pay. Just 35 percent of those who identified themselves as government workers said they thought the average public servant earns more annually than the typical private sector worker." (Government Executive)

Four Employee Benefit Plan Tips for HR and Finance Departments
"The Society of Actuaries exposure draft of a new mortality improvement scale, if adopted, is expected to result in increases in traditional pension plan liabilities of 2% to 4% and in retiree health care liabilities of 6% to 9%.... [I]f you have never had your [401(k)] safe harbor notice reviewed by counsel, now is a great time to make sure it is compliant.... The IRS has given employers an opportunity to correct deficiencies [under section 409A] in release language [in employment contracts and severance agreements] without any penalties or reporting requirements, but to be entitled to relief, agreements must be amended no later than December 31, 2012.... Some of the nation's largest consulting firms (Aon Hewitt and Mercer), as well as other companies in the insurance business, are rolling out private health insurance exchanges for employers." (Poyner Spruill LLP)

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Jeanette Hull, News Editor
David Rhett Baker, J.D., Editor and Publisher
Lois Baker, J.D., President
Holly Horton, Business Manager

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