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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 ascending
Opinion Letter 87-12 10-27-1987 PBGC Op Let 87-12 Multiemployer, Withdrawal Liability, Transfer of liability Addresses effects on withdrawal liability of a proposed transfer of benefit liabilities from a multiemployer plan to a single-employer plan. 2-28-2020
Opinion Letter 83-15 7-7-1983 PBGC Op Let 83-15 Termination Look to plan documents to determine plan administrator 2-28-2020
Opinion Letter 75-32 12-31-1975 PBGC Op Let 75-32 Plan assets, Allocation of assets Assets intended to fund insurance company annuities, but which are retained by the plan are subject to allocation procedures. 2-28-2020
Opinion Letter 80-12 6-9-1980 PBGC Op Let 80-12 Coverage, Professional service employer plan Real estate broker is not a professional individual for purposes of the Professional Service Employer plan exemption. 2-28-2020
Opinion Letter 85-18 7-24-1985 PBGC Op Let 85-18 Multiemployer, Withdrawal Liability Corrects opinion letter 85-1 and addresses calculation of withdrawal liability installment payments other than on a quarterly schedule. 2-28-2020
Opinion Letter 76-57 4-26-1976 PBGC Op Let 76-57 Coverage Plan has not met conditions for coverage since ERISA enacted; Title IV doesn’t apply to the termination of the plan. 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 88-02 3-22-1988 PBGC Op Let 88-02 Multiemployer, Withdrawal Liability, sale of assets, Construction industry Addresses applicability to construction industry employers of the sale-of-assets limitation on withdrawal liability. 2-28-2020
Opinion Letter 82-28 10-15-1982 PBGC Op Let 82-28 Termination Whether the method of distribution proposed for a plan is acceptable when the plan administrator is terminating its DB plan and creating a DC plan. 2-28-2020
Opinion Letter 76-73 6-2-1976 PBGC Op Let 76-73 Benefit guarantee Reaffirms PBGC’s prior review of its determination that a severance benefit provided by the plan is not a guaranteed benefit because it is not a benefit that is payable as an annuity or one or more payments related thereto. 2-28-2020
Opinion Letter 75-41 5-13-1975 PBGC Op Let 75-41 Coverage, Governmental plan To be excluded from coverage, all employees covered by the plan must be public employees and the political subdivision must be the plan sponsor. 2-28-2020
Opinion Letter 81-31 9-22-1981 PBGC Op Let 81-31 Coverage, Governmental plan Plan meets the Governmental plan coverage exemption. 2-28-2020
Opinion Letter 88-07 5-2-1988 PBGC Op Let 88-07 Multiemployer, Withdrawal Liability, sale of assets Addresses the “unrelated party” requirement for the sale of assets exception to withdrawal liability. 2-28-2020
Opinion Letter 86-12 5-23-1986 PBGC Op Let 86-12 Multiemployer, Withdrawal Liability, Partial Withdrawal Addresses calculation of the annual withdrawal liability payment amount of an employer that incurred successive partial withdrawals. PBGC subsequently adopted a rule addressing the issue. (See 29 CFR part 4206.) 2-28-2020
Opinion Letter 86-20 9-29-1986 PBGC Op Let 86-20 Multiemployer, Withdrawal Liability Addresses abatement rules for employers that reenter a multiemployer plan. 2-28-2020
Opinion Letter 75-43 6-25-1975 PBGC Op Let 75-43 Coverage, Substantial owners plan A plan with one participant who is a substantial owner is not covered. 2-28-2020
Opinion Letter 75-91 7-15-1975 PBGC Op Let 75-91 Benefit reduction, Reportable events A reduction in benefits is not considered a plan termination but is a reportable event. 2-28-2020
Opinion Letter 88-10 12-12-1988 PBGC Op Let 88-10 Benefit guarantee PBGC recognizes pension credits for discharged employees found to have been illegal discharged and reinstated for the period after the illegal discharge and ending with the date of plan termination. 2-28-2020
Opinion Letter 76-31 3-3-1976 PBGC Op Let 76-31 Allocation of assets, Benefit guarantee Section 4044 asset allocation rules take precedence over any contrary plan provisions. 2-28-2020
Opinion Letter 74-19 12-13-1974 PBGC Op Let 74-19 Coverage A tax qualified defined benefit plan is covered. 2-28-2020
Opinion Letter 76-119 11-15-1976 PBGC Op Let 76-119 Residual assets Because plan does not provide for reversion of excess assets to sponsor, residual assets must be distributed to plan participants and their beneficiaries, pro rata, in relation to their accrued benefits. 2-28-2020
Opinion Letter 75-17 11-14-1975 PBGC Op Let 75-17 Coverage, Individual account plan Addresses the individual account plan coverage exemption. 2-28-2020
Opinion Letter 79-12 9-19-1979 PBGC Op Let 79-12 Coverage, Professional service employer plan State licensed planner whose company provides consulting services to assist municipal planning boards with development plans, land use studies and housing surveys is a Professional Service Employer and plan is exempt from Title IV coverage. 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 83-10 5-12-1983 PBGC Op Let 83-10 Multiemployer, Asset Sale Exception Regards a statutory provision under which a contributing employer to a multiemployer plan that sells its assets to an unrelated buyer does not withdraw from the plan if (among other things) the buyer posts a bond or escrow and the sales contract makes the seller secondarily liable if the buyer withdraws during the 5 plan years after the sale. Addresses calculation of withdrawal liability of an employer that previously sold some of its assets where, under that statutory provision, the asset sale was not a withdrawal. 2-28-2020