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Guidance Document Database

The documents listed below are PBGC’s guidance documents. The contents of these documents do not have the force and effect of law, unless expressly authorized by statute or incorporated into a contract, and are not meant to bind the public in any way. These documents are intended only to provide clarity to the public regarding existing requirements under the law or agency policies.

If you would like to request the withdrawal or modification of an existing guidance document, please submit your request, including your contact information, to the General Counsel at or at Regulatory Affairs Division, Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, Office of the General Counsel, 1200 K Street NW, Washington, DC 20005–4026.

Title Issuance Date Agency Identifiersort descending Topics Summary Posted Date
Opinion Letter 77-126 2-3-1977 PBGC Op Let 77-126 Coverage, Governmental plan Plan maintained pursuant to a contract with a federal agency is a Governmental plan exempt from Title IV coverage. 2-28-2020
Opinion Letter 77-128 2-4-1977 PBGC Op Let 77-128 Coverage, Substantial owners plan The only participant entitled to be credited with service or receive a benefit under the plan has continuously fallen within the definition of a "substantial owner.” 2-28-2020
Opinion Letter 77-129 2-9-1977 PBGC Op Let 77-129 Residual assets Each participant is entitled to a share of the excess plan assets where the plan does not provide for return of excess assets to employer upon plan termination. 2-28-2020
Opinion Letter 77-131 2-11-1977 PBGC Op Let 77-131 Employer liability PBGC examines financial information of an employer and all trades or businesses under the same common control to assess the employer’s hardship or necessity for deferred payments to meet liability. 2-28-2020
Opinion Letter 77-136 3-29-1977 PBGC Op Let 77-136 Benefit guarantee, Disability benefits Disability benefits guaranteed where participants satisfied plan conditions necessary to receive the benefit before the date of plan termination. 2-28-2020
Opinion Letter 77-139 4-13-1977 PBGC Op Let 77-139 Coverage, Substantial owners plan A plan with a participant who is the sole stockholder meets the Substantial Owner exemption from plan coverage under Title IV. 2-28-2020
Opinion Letter 77-140 4-15-1977 PBGC Op Let 77-140 Coverage, Governmental plan Plans maintained by instrumentalities of the Federal government are exempt from coverage under the Governmental plan coverage exemption. 2-28-2020
Opinion Letter 77-141 4-28-1977 PBGC Op Let 77-141 Benefit guarantee Actuarially equivalent monthly benefit of a lump sum benefit is guaranteed. 2-28-2020
Opinion Letter 77-145 5-24-1977 PBGC Op Let 77-145 Coverage, Professional service employer plan Employer providing consulting services in bio-mechanics, forensic physics, traffic reconstruction, injury analysis, and automotive and traffic safety is a Professional Services Employer and is exempt under Title IV. 2-28-2020
Opinion Letter 77-149 7-6-1977 PBGC Op Let 77-149 Coverage Plan covered by Railroad Retirement Act financed by contributions required under the Act is not covered by title IV. 2-28-2020
Opinion Letter 77-150 7-1-1977 PBGC Op let 77-150 Coverage, Professional service employer plan Analytical chemistry is a professional individual for purposes of the Professional Service Employer plan exemption. 2-28-2020
Opinion Letter 77-151 7-21-1977 PBGC Op Let 77-151 Termination, legal fees Not appropriate to charge against plan assets legal fees arising from plan termination. 2-28-2020
Opinion Letter 77-152 7-13-1977 PBGC Op Let 77-152 Coverage, Governmental plan Plan of municipal corporation designated by constitution as political subdivision of state and having taxing power is a Governmental plan exempt under ERISA 4021(b)(2). 2-28-2020
Opinion Letter 77-154 7-21-1977 PBGC Op Let 77-154 Coverage “Licensed” or “registered” engineers are “public” engineers under ERISA 4021(c)(2)(B) and the plan is exempt under the Professional Service Employer plan exemption. 2-28-2020
Opinion Letter 77-155 8-3-1977 PBGC Op Let 77-155 Coverage, tax qualification A plan operating under a favorable IRS determination letter is covered under Title IV. 2-28-2020
Opinion Letter 77-156 8-5-1977 PBGC Op Let 77-156 Employer liability Where proposed language in CBA will not affect Title IV coverage, it will not prevent PBGC claim for employer liability. 2-28-2020
Opinion Letter 77-159 8-15-1977 PBGC Op Let 77-159 Allocation of assets An annuity contract owned by a pension plan is the plan asset, not the assets held by the insurer under the contract. Because benefits payable under the annuity contract are revocable upon termination, assets held under the contract are included in the value of the contract. 2-28-2020
Opinion Letter 77-160 8-30-1977 PBGC Op Let 77-160 Allocation of assets Following plan terms, the plan may be charged for reasonable termination-related expenses for which the plan is responsible. 2-28-2020
Opinion Letter 77-161 8-30-1977 PBGC Op Let 77-161 Allocation of assets, Substantial owners plan A proposal to allocate post termination gains in plan assets to increase a participant’s benefits is not permissible. 2-28-2020
Opinion Letter 77-162 8-30-1977 PBGC Op Let 77-162 Benefit guarantee A profit-sharing benefit in the plan is nonforfeitable and a pension benefit because the plan states it may be paid as an annuity. Because PBGC guarantees and pays the benefit as an annuity, it won’t be paid in a lump sum if the plan is insufficient. 2-28-2020
Opinion Letter 77-163 8-30-1977 PBGC Op Let 77-163 Coverage, Professional service employer plan Licensed clinical laboratory bio-analyst is a professional individual for purposes of the Professional Service Employer plan exemption. 2-28-2020
Opinion Letter 77-166 10-7-1977 PBGC Op Let 77-166 Benefit guarantee Because benefit increases became effective through collective bargaining agreements (not specific action by the Board of Trustees), PBGC looks to the adoption and effective dates of those agreements to apply the five-year phase-in rule. 2-28-2020
Opinion Letter 77-168 10-27-1977 PBGC Op Let 77-168 Coverage, Professional service employer plan Employer’s principal business is the installation of cathodic protection systems, employer is not a Professional Service Employer and plan is covered under Title IV. 2-28-2020
Opinion Letter 77-169 11-28-1977 PBGC Op Let 77-169 Coverage, Governmental plan Participation in a plan maintained by more than one employer, some of which are not governmental entities, precludes the application of the Governmental plan exemption. 2-24-2020
Opinion Letter 77-171 12-16-1977 PBGC Op Let 77-171 Coverage, Plan that has not provided for employer contributions Funds contributed to a plan whether paid directly by the local union maintaining it or indirectly through deductions from membership dues are employer contributions and the plan is covered under Title IV 2-28-2020