History of Washington’s Social Security and Medicare Coverage for Public Employees

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.

Effective Date Description
July 31, 1951 Original Section 218 Agreement entered into between Washington and the Federal government. Social security coverage (also referred to as “absolute coverage”) is extended to all non-retirement system members of all state agencies.
Coverage also extends to political subdivisions that voluntarily enter into an agreement with the state.
Elected officials were excluded from coverage.
June 11, 1953 Agreement amended: the term ‘employee’ to include an officer of the state or of a political subdivision (elected officials), except officials compensated on a fee basis (for example, a notary public).
January 1, 1955 States could extend OASI coverage to retirement system members (with exception of police officers and fire fighters). Washington chose to do so. Modification No. 61.
January 1, 1955 Washington State University extended coverage to members of TIAA and Aetna plans. Modification No. 74.
January 1, 1955 University of Washington extended coverage for members of TIAA and Aetna plans. Modification No. 81.
January 1, 1956 All TRS members employed by state agencies, school districts and institutions of higher education were covered. Modification No. 141.
July 1, 1957 All PERS members employed by state agencies and institutions of higher education (school districts were not included) were covered. Modification No. 156.
August 28, 1958 Police and fire fighter positions covered by a retirement system can obtain coverage through a referendum election process, and are considered separate coverage group. Washington opted to allow this via Modification No. 222.
July 1, 1966 Employees covered for Social Security under a Section 218 Agreement are automatically covered for Medicare.
April 20, 1983 Section 218 agreements cannot be terminated unless the entity is legally dissolved.
April 1, 1986 Medicare-only coverage is mandatory for all employees hired on or after this date, unless specifically excluded by law.
July 2, 1991 Mandatory Social Security and Medicare coverage extended to most state and local government employees, unless they are (1) members of a retirement system, or (2) covered under a 218 agreement.
January 1, 1997 Election officials/workers. Wage limit set for exclusion of services by election officials and election workers. The excludable limit will be adjusted in future years by the Commissioner of Social Security. No further modification of the agreement is necessary. Modification No. 807. Amends ALL existing Modifications.
Election workers paid less than $1,500 in a calendar year beginning January 1, 2009 are excluded from FICA taxes.
July 1, 2000 Student services performed in the employ of a school, college, or university on or after this date are excluded from coverage on a statewide basis. Modification No. 808
March 2, 2004 SSA Form 1945 required to be given to public employees by the employer to advise that their earnings are not covered by Social Security.
June 12, 2008 HB2510 authorized the divided referendum process for obtaining Medicare-only coverage for certain employees of political subdivisions hired before April 1, 1986.
July 1, 2009 Department of Retirement Systems (DRS) became the State Social Security Administrator, replacing the Employment Security Department (ESD).

For more information about Social Security and Medicare coverage for public employees, contact the State Social Security Administrator at DRS:

Email: OASI@drs.wa.gov
Phone: DRS OASI Program line at (360) 664-7316