Advisory Opinions

Requests for interpretations and other rulings under Title 1 of ERISA are handled by the Office of Regulations and Interpretations under the provisions established by ERISA Procedure 76-1.  The office answers inquiries from individuals and organizations in the form of advisory opinions, which apply the law to a specific set of facts, or information letters, which merely call attention to well established principles or interpretations.

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AO/ Date/ Reference Recipient Description of Request

Alexander T. Renfro, JD, LLM
The Law Office of Alexander Renfro
3200 West End Avenue, Suite 500
Nashville, TN 37204

Whether LP Management's limited partnership programs are employee welfare benefit plans within the meaning of section 3(1) of ERISA, and, if so, whether the arrangements constitute single-employer group health plans sponsored by the limited partnerships as an "employer."

AO/ Date/ Reference Recipient Description of Request

Alden J. Bianchi
Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C.
One Financial Center
Boston, MA 02111

Whether the Ace Hardware Ace Hardware Corporation Cooperative Group Health Plan is an "employee welfare benefit plan" within the meaning of section 3(1) of ERISA that is maintained by a "group or association of employers" within the meaning of section 3(5) of ERISA and whether it is a MEWA that is fully insured within the meaning of sections 3(40) and 514(b)(6)(A) of ERISA.

AO/ Date/ Reference Recipient Description of Request

J. Spencer Williams
Founder, President and CEO
Retirement Clearinghouse, LLC
3545 Whitehall Park Drive, Suite 400
Charlotte, NC 28273

This advisory opinion concerns the status of certain parties as fiduciaries within the meaning of section 3(21)(A) of ERISA and section 4975(e)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code as a result of actions undertaken as part of a Retirement Clearinghouse Auto Portability Program designed to help employees consolidate certain small accounts in plans and IRAs when they change jobs.

AO/ Date/ Reference Recipient Description of Request

Darcy L. Hitesman
Hitesman & Wold
12900 – 63rd  Avenue North
Maple Grove, MN 55369

Whether a sub-group of employer members of a trade association could constitute a “group or association of employers” within the meaning of section 3(5) of ERISA capable of sponsoring a multiple employer plan, and whether a group health plan proposed by the sub-group would constitute a multiple employer welfare arrangement within the meaning of section 3(40) of ERISA.


Vanessa A. Scott, Esq.
Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP
700 Sixth Street NW, Suite 700
Washington, DC 20001-3980

This advisory opinion concerns how the definition of employee welfare benefit plan and the definition of multiple employer welfare arrangement might apply to a program of administrative services.