May 12, 2016

Never Heard Of This Happening Before

     From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
The Social Security Administration has taken away the benefits of about 70 police officers at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport after determining they are not eligible due to an agreement the state of Missouri signed 65 years ago.
Sen. Claire McCaskill says the agency is misreading the agreement, but a Social Security spokesman said that the agency determined that the airport officers are St. Louis police as defined by the agreement, and that the state of Missouri “never requested Social Security coverage for this position.”
The airport security workers will be refunded the amount of money they have paid into the system through the years, according to an aide for McCaskill, D-Mo. But because they have been defined as St. Louis police officers by the Social Security Administration, they will also be ineligible for Social Security, and they face a murky fix on how to make up the loss of benefits.
McCaskill, in a letter Tuesday to Acting Commissioner of Social Security Carolyn Colvin, said that she believed the benefits were removed because of an incorrect reading of a “218 agreement” that Missouri and the Social Security Administration signed in 1951.
That agreement defined which local government workers would be covered under Social Security, and which would receive retirement benefits from Missouri. It was signed before airport security was necessary, a spokesman for McCaskill said. ...
     I don't understand how Social Security can correct the earnings records to take down the quarters of coverage. Normally, they can't go back more than 3 years, 3 months and 15 days to correct an earnings record. There are exceptions to that time limit in 42 U.S.C. §405(c)(5) but I don't see one that would apply to this situation.


Anonymous said...

I used to work where the 218 agreements were handled and found it fascinating 40 years ago that there were such agreements in the first place. But it makes sense that because public employers can opt out of SSA coverage that the situation be cleared in writing.

I recall a lot of activity with teachers and municipal employees hired before or after certain dates often because they didn't want to pay FICA like their co-workers did and wanted to be covered under the old system. The story doesn't say if the State administrator has weighed in.

Jarrett said the administration offered the city two options: “Requesting a refund of Social Security taxes paid in error or pursuing Social Security coverage for the officers by amending” the 1951 agreement.

That sounds like what it should be - this is on the state to remedy.

Anonymous said...

It sounds like they will still receive either state or city retirement and benefits.

Anonymous said...

Actually, they may not be in the municipal system or have contributed what they needed to as they were thought to be under SSA. That's why this is a state issue, because if the state mistakenly assumed them to be FICA covered but they weren't, they need to either amend the agreement or work a regulatory or legislative fix to put them in the right system and make them whole.