Social Security for Public Employers Old Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) Program
Social Security and Public Employees
When the federal Social Security Act began in 1935, public employees were not eligible for Social Security benefits. This was due to a Constitutional question regarding the federal government’s power to tax state and local governments. Consequently, many government employees were without a retirement plan.
In 1951, Section 218 of the Act authorized states to voluntarily elect Social Security coverage for public employees who were not already covered under a retirement plan. These Federal-State Agreements, often referred to as Section 218 Agreements, were entered into with the SSA.
Most public employees who are members of a qualified retirement system cannot participate in Social Security through their public employment unless their retirement system group is covered by a Section 218 Agreement. Contact your employer if you have questions about your Social Security coverage. Employers can contact DRS with questions about an agency's Social Security coverage status.
DRS is the State Social Security Administrator (SSSA)
Effective July 1, 2009, the Department of Retirement Systems (DRS) became the State Social Security Administrator of the Old Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) Program. As the administrator, DRS is responsible for administering the Social Security and Medicare coverage program, also known as OASI, for all state and local (public) government employers throughout the State of Washington. DRS also serves as a facilitator and communication bridge between government employers and the Social Security Administration (SSA) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) – the two principal federal agencies responsible for coverage, benefits and tax withholding associated with Social Security and Medicare.
Each time coverage for a new group of employees is added to Washington’s Section 218 Agreement, a modification to the Agreement is submitted to the Social Security Administration for approval... Read more
Before 1959—if a police officer or fire fighter position was enrolled in a retirement system it was mandatorily excluded from social security coverage... Read more
Divided Referendum for Medicare-only
The 2008 Washington State Legislature passed a law that allows local governments to request a divided referendum in which employees can vote to participate in Medicare. It only affects employees who:
- Do not currently pay Medicare taxes;
- Were hired before April 1, 1986; and
- Have been in continuous employment through the date of the referendum.
Annual Invoice Information
As the State Social Security Administrator (SSSA), DRS is mandated by RCW 41.48.065 to bill participating employers for the cost of administering the program.
What is a participating employer?
A state or local government agency that is covered for voluntary Social Security under Washington’s Section 218 Agreement.
How is the annual invoice calculated?
The invoice amount is calculated using a formula based on several factors:
- The number of OASI-covered agencies (1,233 in 2014)
- Each participating employer’s total Social Security wage amount for the prior tax year.
- The total budget amount of the OASI program ($141,000 for 2013/2014)
- A minimum invoice amount of $25
2014 invoice amounts (Excel file).
Additional Resources and Information
- Glossary of Section 218 Terms
- IRS Publication 963—Federal-State Reference Guide
- IRS—Toolkit for Federal, State, and Local Governments
- IRS—Video Portal for Government Employers
- Social Security Online—State and Local Government Employers - Information
Contact the OASI ProgramEmail: OASI@drs.wa.gov
Phone: DRS OASI Program line at (360) 664-7316