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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 Identifier Topics Summary Posted Datesort descending
Opinion Letter 85-01 1-4-1985 PBGC Op Let 85-01 Multiemployer, Withdrawal Liability Addresses interest factors applicable to withdrawal liability installments paid other than quarterly.  Corrected by Opinion Letter 85-18. 2-28-2020
Opinion Letter 76-103 8-23-1976 PBGC Op Let 76-103 Benefit guarantee, Death benefits PBGC’s position on guaranty of death benefit. 2-28-2020
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
Opinion Letter 81-27 8-28-1981 PBGC Op Let 81-27 Multiemployer, Bargaining representative Addresses the special rules governing a transfer between multiemployer plans where an employer withdraws from a plan because the union bargaining with that employer has been changed as a result of the certification of a different union. 2-28-2020
Opinion Letter 78-1 1-5-1978 PBGC Op Let 78-1 Coverage, Church plans; Premiums Church plan status is determined by the IRS, must get an IRS ruling on church plan status. 2-28-2020
Opinion Letter 76-09 1-14-1976 PBGC Op Let 76-9 Controlled groups Discusses considerations PBGC would apply in determining whether parent-subsidiary group created a single plan or multiple separate plans managed under a single trust. 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 80-16 9-23-1980 PBGC Op Let 80-16 Successor liability Discusses successor plan requirements. 2-28-2020
Opinion Letter 93-02 7-7-1993 PBGC Op Let 93-02 Multiemployer, Partial Withdrawal Discusses the calculation of partial withdrawal liability following a 70 percent decline in contributions. 2-28-2020
Opinion Letter 89-09 11-28-1989 PBGC Op Let 89-9 Coverage, Tribal plan Plan does not meet Title IV coverage exemption since activities covered by the plan were off-reservation commercial activities carried on for profit. 2-28-2020
Opinion Letter 75-54 6-23-1975 PBGC Op Let 75-45 Coverage Title IV does not cover deposits made into a Keogh Trust. 2-28-2020
Opinion Letter 76-76 6-8-1976 PBGC Op Let 76-76 Termination Addresses a plan’s notice of intent to terminate, date of plan termination, and the ability to terminate the plan by agreement. 2-28-2020
Opinion Letter 85-15 5-31-1985 PBGC Op Let 85-15 Multiemployer, Withdrawal Liability, sale of assets, Avoidance transactions Addresses whether the rule against transactions with a principal purpose to avoid withdrawal liability can apply when a transaction meets the sale of assets exception requirements. 2-28-2020
Opinion Letter 75-2 4-4-1975 PBGC Op Let 75-2 Coverage, Individual account plan Individual account plan is exempt from coverage under Title IV. 2-28-2020
Opinion Letter 78-17 7-17-1978 PBGC Op Let 78-17 Coverage, Individual account plan Defined benefit plan was not terminated before enactment of ERISA and is covered by Title IV. 2-28-2020
Opinion Letter 86-03 2-14-1986 PBGC Op Let 86-3 Allocation of assets, Residual assets PBGC cannot approve a transaction that would allow an employer to recover excess assets without termination. 2-28-2020
Opinion Letter 83-19 8-11-1983 PBGC Op Let 83-19 Multiemployer, Withdrawal Liability Addresses whether, under the presumptive method of allocating withdrawal liability, if a plan's assets exceed its vested liabilities, the unfunded vested benefit amount is zero. 2-28-2020
Opinion Letter 82-05 2-18-1982 PBGC Op Let 82-5 Multiemployer, Partial Withdrawal Discusses partial withdrawals from a multiemployer plan. 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 76-111 9-16-1976 PBGC Op Let 76-111 Employer liability Asset purchaser assuming some plans was not a successor corporation for plans that it did not assume. 2-28-2020
Opinion Letter 89-02 2-14-1989 PBGC Op Let 89-02 Multiemployer, Withdrawal Liability, Reciprocity agreement Addresses (1) whether transfers of contributions between multiemployer plans under a reciprocity agreement are covered by rules on transfers of assets; and (2) whether a reciprocity agreement can create withdrawal liability obligations. 2-28-2020
Opinion Letter 95-02 8-18-1995 PBGC Op Let 95-02 Multiemployer, Construction industry Addresses the interpretation of the special rule for partial withdrawals for certain employers and plans in the building and construction industry. 2-28-2020
Opinion Letter 91-04 5-3-1991 PBGC Op Let 91-4 Benefits A plan sponsor has no liability for the benefits in a terminated plan that were provided to plan participants through the distribution of irrevocable commitments purchased from an insurance company. 2-28-2020
Opinion Letter 81-07 4-2-1981 PBGC Op Let 81-7 Benefit guarantee, tax qualification, Coverage Following a restructuring of three pension plans maintained by one company, each restructured plan remains a Title IV covered plan, each plan qualifies as a successor plan, and the plan sponsor would be liable to PBGC for any funding deficiency at termination. 2-28-2020
Opinion Letter 80-15 6-20-1980 PBGC Op Let 80-15 Coverage, Professional service employer plan River pilot is not a professional individual for purposes of the Professional Service Employer exemption. 2-28-2020