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 Social Security Administration.
Today, most public employees who are members of a qualifying 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
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. DRS is responsible for administering the voluntary provisions of Social Security and Medicare coverage for public employers in the state of Washington. Voluntary coverage is also known as Section 218 coverage (pursuant to Section 218 of the Social Security Act). DRS is the liaison between public employers, the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for coverage-related issues and questions.
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:
Annual Invoice Information
As the State Social Security Administrator, DRS is required 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:
2018 invoice amounts (Excel file).
Additional Resources and Information