Canton Repository

February 13, 2005

Not all Ohio workers get Social Security coverage

By Paul M. Krawzak
Copley News Service

WASHINGTON — Across the nation, 159 million workers, or 96 percent, participate in the Social Security system.

In Ohio, 1.5 million active, inactive or retired employees of state and local governments, including public school teachers, do not. Instead, they are members of five public pension systems, the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System being the largest.

Ohio is one of six states that does not participate in the federal retirement system, according to Dick Curtis, executive director of the Ohio State Highway Patrol Retirement System.

Although federal law would allow Ohio to offer its public employees the option of enrolling in Social Security, the state Legislature has chosen not to do so.

“There’s been no debate in our system about anyone wishing to join Social Security,” Curtis said.

All federal employees, including the president and vice president, members of Congress and federal judges hired after 1983 are covered by Social Security.

Congress also extended coverage to other federal employees who have been employed since before 1984, including members of Congress, federal judges and other government workers.

Ohio’s five public retirement systems include the State Teachers Retirement System, the Ohio Police & Fire Pension Fund and the School Employees Retirement System, in addition to the public employee and highway patrol pensions.

When Social Security was enacted in 1935, it excluded state and local government employees because of a legal question regarding the federal government’s authority to tax state and local governments.

Congress amended the act in 1950 to make Social Security coverage available for state and local government employees. Further changes in the law allowed states to extend Social Security coverage to state and local employees even if they already participated in a retirement system.