Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) today announced a new interactive Web tool to serve as a resource for employers in complying with federal employee benefit laws. The ERISA Fiduciary Advisor is designed to help employers and others who provide services to private sector retirement plans understand their responsibilities. The advisor provides an overview of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), including the most common mistakes EBSA finds in its investigations, and provides links to additional information as well as tools to assist plan officials. Strong fiduciary oversight and compliance assistance are both high priorities for EBSA.
Source: Patrick Purcell, Congressional Research Service, Order Code RL30629, September 7, 2007
As the members of the “baby boom” generation (people born between 1946 and 1964) approach retirement, the demographic profile of the U.S. workforce will undergo a substantial shift: a large number of older workers will be joined by relatively few new entrants to the labor force. According to the Census Bureau, while the number of people between the ages of 55 and 64 will grow by about 11 million between 2005 and 2025, the number of people who are 25 to 54 years old will grow by only 5 million. This trend could affect economic growth because labor force participation begins to fall after age 55. In 2006, 91% of men and 76% of women aged 25 to 54 participated in the labor force. In contrast, just 70% of men and 58% of women aged 55 to 64 were either working or looking for work in 2006.
Source: Bruce R. Nordstrom, Mercer, Issue 13, June 2007
From the summary:
Pension plan sponsors in the US have had time to consider the effects of the recent pension reform legislation on their DB plans. This article examines whether they like what they are seeing, and whether a trend is emerging for dealing with the consequences of these new laws.
Source: Anna Kates Smith, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine, September 2007
A new regulation forces government retirement plans to reveal the cost of their health-benefit promises for the first time.
…State and local governments aren’t required to set aside money to meet future promises other than for retiree pensions. Most pay what they owe each year out of their current budget. But starting this year, government retirement plans must at least account for their long-term health care and other benefits liabilities (known as OPEB, or other post-employment benefits) and publish the calculations.
Source: Craig Copeland, Employee Benefit Research Institute, Vol. 28 no. 8, August 2007
From press release:
As an increasing percentage of older Americans are in the labor force, the trend toward more full-time, full-year work among older workers occurs across virtually every demographic group, according to an article published today by the nonpartisan Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI).
These trends mark a significant change in behavior for individuals age 55 and older, the article says, and are likely driven by their need to obtain affordable employment-based health insurance (as opposed to unaffordable or unavailable coverage in the individual market) and the need to continue to accumulate savings in employment-based defined contribution retirement plans.
Source: American City and County, August 8, 2007
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has ruled that employee contributions to a trust fund established by Bristol, R.I., to fund post employment benefits are tax exempt. The ruling sets a precedent for other cities seeking similar solutions to pay for Other Post Employment Benefits (OPEB).
Source: Freddi Karp, Editor, National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, NIH Publication No. 07- 5757, March 2007
There is no question that the aging of America will have a profound impact on individuals, families, and U.S. society. The Health and Retirement Study (HRS), sponsored by the National Institute on Aging under a cooperative agreement with the University of Michigan, follows more than 20,000 men and women over 50, offering insight into the changing lives of the older U.S. population. Launched in 1992, this multidisciplinary, longitudinal study has become known as the Nation’s leading resource for data on the combined health and economic conditions of older Americans.
Growing Older in America: The Health & Retirement Study describes the breadth and depth of the HRS to help familiarize a broad range of researchers; policymakers; media; and organizations concerned with health, economics, and aging with this data resource. Published in 2007, this colorful data book describes the HRS’s development and features and offers a snapshot of research findings based on analyses of the Study’s data. Sections of the report look at older adults’ health, work and retirement, income and wealth, and family characteristics and intergenerational transfers. More than 65 figures and tables illustrate the text.
Source: Government Accountability Office Report to Congressional Committees, GAO-07-753, July 11, 2007
While many factors influence workers’ decisions to retire, Social Security, Medicare, and pension laws also play a role, offering incentives to retire earlier and later. Identifying these incentives and how workers respond can help policy makers address the demographic challenges facing the nation. GAO assessed (1) the incentives federal policies provide about when to retire, (2) recent retirement patterns and whether there is evidence that changes in Social Security requirements have resulted in later retirements, and (3) whether tax-favored private retiree health insurance and pension benefits influence when people retire. GAO analyzed retirement age laws and SSA data and conducted statistical analysis of Health and Retirement Study data.
Source: Jeff Sloan, Genevieve Ng and Merlyn Goeschl, CPER Journal, no. 184, June 2007
The convergence of new reporting standards by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB), the rising cost of health care, and the huge number of baby boomers nearing retirement age have knocked the public employment sector on its ear. In the past, public employers typically operated on a “pay as you go” model for other post-employment benefits (OPEBs), without reference to any future unfunded liabilities. However, the new GASB rules, which began taking effect in 2005, require public employers to account for and disclose their outstanding future OPEB liabilities, in much the same way they are required to do for pension benefits. Although OPEBs include benefits like post-employment life insurance plans, disability, and long-term care, retiree health care benefits account for the bulk of the unfunded OPEBs facing public employers today.
Source: Governmental Accounting Standards Board, Statement 45 on OPEB Accounting by Governments – A Few Basic Questions and Answers
1. Why was Statement 45 on OPEB accounting by governments necessary?
Statement 45 was issued to provide more complete, reliable, and decision-useful financial reporting regarding the costs and financial obligations that governments incur when they provide postemployment benefits other than pensions (OPEB) as part of the compensation for services rendered by their employees. Postemployment healthcare benefits, the most common form of OPEB, are a very significant financial commitment for many governments. ….