The Department of Employee Trust Funds (ETF) administers the
Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS), as well as numerous benefit
programs. ETF also provides information to employers about Social
Security and Medicare coverage for public employees based on ETF's
role as the designated liaison between the Social Security Administration
and Wisconsin employers that provide Social Security coverage.
Please see below for more information on these responsibilities.
How do public employers provide social security coverage?
- Mandatory Social Security Coverage: Effective July 2, 1991,
the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (OBRA) required Social
Security coverage for state and local government employees who
are not members of a public retirement system.
- Section 218 Agreement: State and local government employers
can choose to cover their employees through an agreement under
Section 218 of the Social Security Act.
What is a Section 218 Agreement?
Does Wisconsin have a Section 218 Agreement?
Yes. The State of Wisconsin entered into a Section 218 Agreement
with the federal government in 1951.
What role does ETF play in Social Security coverage?
ETF houses the federally-mandated role of State Social Security
Administrator. The State Social Security Administrator is responsible
for maintaining documents related to the State of Wisconsin’s
Section 218 Agreement with the federal government. In addition,
the State Social Security Administrator provides information
to employers and employees about Social Security coverage for
Please note: The State Social Security Administrator
does not have access to specific individual information, such
as information about an employee’s total work history,
Social Security work credits or any potential spousal or survivor
benefits. To obtain more information about your potential Social
Security benefits and potential offsets for government employees,
please contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) directly
at 1-800-772-1213 or via the SSA’s e-mail.
You may visit the SSA website at www.ssa.gov
for more information.
Are all local governmental employees covered under the
Section 218 Agreement?
Can positions that are not covered under the Section
218 Agreement still have Social Security coverage?
Positions that are not covered under the Section 218 Agreement
may still have Social Security coverage under the mandatory
Social Security coverage provisions of the Federal 1990 Omnibus
Budget Reconciliation Act (OBRA).
OBRA (1990) requires Social Security coverage for employees
meeting each of the following three conditions:
The employee is:
- not covered under a Section 218 Agreement,
- not covered by an Internal Revenue Code Federal Insurance
Contributions Act (FICA) replacement plan, and
- not excluded under the Section 218 Agreement or the Social
According to the SSA, these mandatory Social Security provisions
were intended to ensure that all public employees had some type
of retirement protection, either from Social Security or through
a plan offered by the employer.
What are an employer’s responsibilities regarding
employees who are not covered by Social Security?
An employer must provide Form
SSA-1945 to anyone taking a job that is not covered for
Social Security. That form, which must be signed by the employee,
explains how not being subject to Social Security may affect
future benefits. For WRS purposes, this form would apply to
Are there potential offsets to Social Security benefits?
Social Security benefits may be reduced in one of two ways—via
the Government Pension Offset (GPO) or the Windfall Elimination
- Government Pension Offset
The GPO may apply to the spousal or survivor benefit of an individual
who receives a pension for work not covered by Social Security.
For more information on the GPO and exceptions to the GPO, please
see the SSA’s Government
Pension Offset (GPO) fact sheet or contact the SSA for more
- Windfall Elimination Provision
The WEP may apply to an individual whose employer does not withhold
Social Security taxes from his or her salary. For more information
on the WEP and exceptions to the WEP, please see the SSA’s
Elimination Provision (WEP) fact sheet or contact the SSA
for more information.
Do employees under the Section 218 Agreement have Medicare
Yes. The Medicare Program was established by the Social Security
Act of 1965. Beginning July 1, 1966, employees covered under
a Section 218 Agreement are automatically covered for Medicare.
Do most employees who are not covered under the Section
218 Agreement have Medicare coverage?
Yes. Prior to April 1, 1986, state and local government employees
could only be covered for Medicare under a Section 218 Agreement.
This changed with the enactment of the Consolidated Omnibus
Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) of 1985, which mandated that
all state and local employees hired or rehired after March 31,
1986, must be covered for Medicare. Employees excluded from
mandatory Medicare coverage include those who have been in continuous
employment with their employer since March 31, 1986.
Security Employer Bulletins
Reference Guide (IRS Publication 963)