SOCIAL SECURITY, PENSIONS & RETIREMENT INCOME eJOURNAL
RUTH HELMAN, Greenwald & Associates
CRAIG COPELAND, Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI)
JACK VANDERHEI, Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI)
This paper presents key findings from the 25th annual Retirement Confidence Survey (RCS), a survey that gauges the views and attitudes of working-age and retired Americans regarding retirement, their preparations for retirement, their confidence with regard to various aspects of retirement, and related issues. The 2015 RCS by EBRI/Greenwald & Associates finds that the nation’s retirement confidence continues to rebound from the record lows experienced between 2009 and 2013 -- but this is based on the increasing optimism of those who indicate they and/or their spouse have a retirement plan. The percentage of workers confident about having enough money for a comfortable retirement, at record lows between 2009 and 2013, increased in 2014 and again in 2015. Twenty-two percent are now very confident (up from 13 percent in 2013 and 18 percent in 2014), while 36 percent are somewhat confident. Twenty-four percent are not at all confident (statistically unchanged from 28 percent in 2013 and 24 percent in 2014). The increased confidence since 2013 is strongly related to retirement plan participation. Among those with a plan, the percentage very confident increased from 14 percent in 2013 to 28 percent in 2015. In contrast, the percentage very confident remained statistically unchanged among those without a plan (10 percent in 2013, 9 percent in 2014, and 12 percent in 2015). Retiree confidence in having a financially secure retirement, which historically tends to exceed worker confidence levels, also increased, with 37 percent very confident (up from 18 percent in 2013 and 27 percent in 2014). The percentage not at all confident was 14 percent (statistically unchanged from 14 percent in 2013 and 17 percent in 2014). Worker confidence in the affordability of various aspects of retirement has also rebounded. In particular, the percentage of workers who are very confident in their ability to pay for basic expenses has increased (37 percent, up from 25 percent in 2013 and 29 percent in 2014). The percentages of workers who are very confident in their ability to pay for medical expenses (18 percent, up from 12 percent in 2011) and long-term care expenses (14 percent, up from 9 percent in 2011) are slowly inching upward. Cost of living and day-to-day expenses head the list of reasons why workers do not save (or save more) for retirement, with 50 percent of workers citing these factors. Nevertheless, many workers say they could save a small amount more. Seven in 10 (69 percent) state they could save $25 a week more than they are currently saving for retirement.
This paper takes a comprehensive look at the financial situation of older Americans at the end of their lives. In particular, it documents the percentage of households with a member who recently died with few or no assets. It also documents the income, debt, home-ownership rates, net home equity, and dependency on Social Security for households that experienced a recent death. Significant findings include that among those who died at ages 85 or above, 20.6 percent had no non-housing assets and 12.2 percent had no assets left. Among singles who died at or above age 85, 24.6 percent had no non-housing assets left and 16.7 percent had no assets left. Data show those who died at earlier ages were generally worse off financially: 29.8 percent of households that lost a member between ages 50 and 64 had no assets left. Households with at least one member who died earlier also had significantly lower income than households with all surviving members. The report shows that among singles who died at ages 85 or above, 9.1 percent had outstanding debt (other than mortgage debt) and the average debt amount for them was $6,368. The report also shows that the importance of Social Security to older households cannot be overstated. For recently deceased singles, it provided at least two-thirds of their household income. Couple households above 75 with deceased members received more than 60 percent of their household income from Social Security. The data for this study come from the University of Michigan’s Health and Retirement Study (HRS), which is sponsored by the National Institute on Aging, and is the most comprehensive national survey of older Americans.
Since “big data” is changing so many aspects of the business world, how is it affecting the way health and retirement benefits are provided to private-sector workers? This paper summarizes the presentations and discussion at the Dec. 11, 2014, EBRI policy forum held in Washington, DC, on the topic, “Measured Matters: The Use of ‘Big Data’ in Employee Benefits:” the use of massive amounts of data and computer-driven data analytics to determine how people behave when it comes to health and retirement plans, which programs work or do not, and how to get better results at lower cost. EBRI’s 75th biannual policy forum last December delved into both the status and promise of this trend before an audience of about a hundred benefits professionals and policymakers. Two panels of experts -- one focusing on health and the other on retirement -- provided an overview of what employers, researchers, and data analysts are currently doing, what they hope to be doing, and what seems to be working so far. Speakers included employers, research and analytic experts, health and retirement plan executives, and consultants. Among the broad areas of agreement: Employers and researchers are making a major commitment to capturing and analyzing the vast amount of health and retirement data in their benefit plans; the health sector is considerably farther down the road than the retirement sector in using data analytics in benefits plan design and management, but both fields are in the very early stages of using big data; many workers are already seeing the results of this trend, such as the rapidly growing use of electronic medical records and their ability to access their own health records online; the science of applied mathematics seems destined to dominate the art of employee benefits.
"Which State-Law Reporting, Record-Keeping, and Disclosure Mandates Does ERISA Permit that Relate to State Criminal Laws, Insurance Laws, Healthcare Laws, Tax Laws, Domestic Relations Laws, Labor Laws, or Other State Laws?"
20 J. Deferred Compensation 1 (Spring 2015)
This article discusses when a pension or welfare plan governed by ERISA must comply with state law reporting, record-keeping and disclosure mandates.
Any such mandate directed at an ERISA plan, a plan participant or beneficiary, a plan sponsor or contributing employer, or a third party's interaction with an ERISA plan, would seem prima facie to relate to an ERISA plan. Thus, at first blush, any such mandate would appear to be preempted. However, this approach is obviously incorrect. It would preclude a state from compelling a pension plan or its participants from filing tax reports about benefit distributions.
On the other hand, such plan mandates do not affect plan benefit structures or the administration of those structures other than requiring such reports, record-keeping, or disclosure, and imposing cost burdens on the plan. Thus, at second blush, all such mandates seem permissible. However, this approach is obviously incorrect. It would permit a state to compel plans to provide reports so that the state could regulate plan fiduciary conduct or to make large expenditures to generate and keep records with little utility.
This article argues for a common sense approach. ERISA permits a state-law reporting or disclosure mandate directed at an ERISA plan, a plan participant or beneficiary, a plan sponsor or contributing employer, or a third party interacting with an ERISA plan, such as a service provider, that implements a state law that ERISA does not otherwise preempt, but only to the extent the mandate is needed for the effective administration of such state law. If ERISA preempted a mandate needed to implement a state law not otherwise preempted, the state law would in practice be preempted. The effective administration requirement prevents undue interference with ERISA's benefit protections other than the reporting, record-keeping and disclosure mandate. If the state mandate is generally applicable, rather than principally applicable to ERISA plans, there would be a rebuttable presumption that the mandate is so limited.
ERISA preempts all other reporting and disclosure mandates directed at an ERISA plan, a plan participant or beneficiary, a plan sponsor or contributing employer, or a third party interacting with an ERISA plan, such as a third party administrator, even if the compliance burdens are slight. Preemption is unaffected by whether the mandate arises from a law that explicitly refers to ERISA. Plan sponsors must comply with all state-law mandates that ERISA does not preempt regardless of plan terms. On the other hand, plan administrators must comply with all state-law mandates with which plan terms require compliance.
This approach recognizes that the preemption of a state-law reporting and disclosing mandates is determined by whether it unduly interferes with the other ERISA benefit protections. Thus, states may require employers to report their contributions to ERISA plans needed to show compliance with those prevailing wage laws that ERISA permits. Thus, state courts considering contract claims by a supplier to an ERISA plan may require the plan to respond to discovery requests with respect to the claim. Thus, states may require those plans subject to the QDRO rules to disclose, to an individual eligible to use a QDRO, the information that may be needed to have a state court prepare and issue a QDRO granting the individual plan benefit rights, but not other information that is not so needed. Thus, states may require ERISA plans to file reports and respond to audit request with respect to the healthcare, if any, they provide that the states may regulate. Thus, states may require ERISA health reimbursement plans, their insurers, or their third party administrators to report claims experience, including price data, if ERISA permits the states to assemble, maintain, and perhaps publicize, such a data base, but only to the extent the mandate is needed for the effective administration of the permitted activities.