Overview of Commonwealth's Provision for
Social Security for Public Employees (SSPE)
When initially enacted in 1935, the Social Security Act (Act) did not include public employees as eligible for Social Security because of the constitutional question regarding the power of the federal government to tax state and local governments.
Since 1950, state and local employers have been able to offer Social Security coverage to their employees under an agreement between the commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the Social Security Administration (SSA), known as a Section 218 Agreement.
Section 218 of the Act permits a state to participate in Social Security coverage for its employees or employees of political subdivisions within the state. Many government employers did not have their own retirement systems. In 1950, the United States Congress amended the Act to allow states to voluntarily enter into agreements with SSA, on behalf of the Department of Health and Human Services.
Each state designated an official to administer the agreement on behalf of the state. This official is referred to as the State Social Security Administrator. In 1952, the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry was designated by the Governor to administer the Amendments to the Act which permitted public employers to voluntarily provide their employees with Social Security coverage.