Need to Know:
OPEB Implementation Guidance for Employers

Before the end of the year, the GASB is slated to publish implementation guidance on accounting and financial reporting for postemployment benefits other than pensions. The guidance on other postemployment benefits (OPEB) also addresses certain issues related to OPEB plans.
OPEB refers to non-pension benefits that U.S. state and local governments provide to their retired employees. These benefits principally involve health care benefits, but also may include other benefits such as life insurance and disability.

OPEB refers to non-pension benefits that U.S. state and local governments provide to their retired employees. These benefits principally involve health care benefits, but also may include other benefits such as life insurance and disability.

Implementation Guide No. 2017-3, Accounting and Financial Reporting for Postemployment Benefits Other Than Pensions (and Certain Issues Related to OPEB Plan Reporting)—clarifies, explains, or elaborates on the requirements of GASB Statement No. 75, Accounting and Financial Reporting for Postemployments Benefits Other Than Pensions, as amended, and Statement No. 74, Financial Reporting for Postemployment Benefit Plans Other Than Pension Plans, as amended.

GASB Implementation Guides are prepared by the GASB staff, are cleared for issuance by the Board, and are classified as Category B in the hierarchy of generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). More information about the levels of GAAP is available in GASB Statement No. 76, The Hierarchy of Generally Accepted Accounting Principles for State and Local Governments.

The Guide addresses topics including:
  • The scope and applicability of the guidance
  • Considerations regarding the identification of special funding situations
  • Measurement of defined benefit OPEB liabilities of employers and nonemployer contributing entities
  • OPEB expense and deferred inflows and outflows of resources related to OPEB
  • Note disclosures and required supplementary information, and
  • Transition to the new standards.
The question-and-answer portion of the guide is supplemented with nonauthoritative illustrative material.

Many of the requirements of the Implementation Guide are effective for reporting periods beginning after June 15, 2017. However, certain of the requirements are effective later—December 15, 2017, or June 30, 2018—primarily to accommodate the coordination of OPEB plan and employer reporting.

GASB Implementation Guides are available for download at no charge from the GASB website. Printed copies are available for purchase in the GASB Store.