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.These Federal-State Agreements, often referred to as Section 218 Agreements, were entered into with the Social Security Administration. The governor of each state assigns an agency to administer its Section 218 Agreement. DRS is the current State Social Security Administrator.

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 at 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:

  • 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, 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:

  • The number of OASI-covered agencies (1,267 in 2019)
  • Each participating employer’s total Social Security wage amount for the prior tax year
  • The total budget amount of the OASI program ($108,000 for 2018/2019)
  • A minimum invoice amount of $25

2019 invoice amounts (Excel file).

Contact the OASI Program

Phone: DRS OASI Program line at 360-664-7165