SSA logo: link to Social Security Online home940. Employment as Civilian for the U.S. Government

940.1 Are services performed by newly hired civilians for the U.S. Government covered by Social Security?

If you were hired as a civilian employee for the U.S. Government on or after January 1, 1984, then your services are covered by Social Security. Certain services performed by Federal officials are also covered.

Prior to 1984, most Federal civilian employment was exempt from regular Social Security coverage, but subject to the Hospital Insurance tax portion of the Federal Insurance Contributions Act beginning January 1, 1983.

940.2 Which services are covered by Social Security for civilian workers?

The following civilian positions are covered by Social Security:

  1. Federal employees who on or after January 1, 1984:

    1. Are hired for the first time;

    2. Are hired after a separation exceeding 365 days from previous Federal employment (see §940.3 for exceptions);

    3. Return to Federal employment after a separation of less than 366 days and the prior employment was subject to full Social Security coverage and taxation under the prior law; or

    4. Were working for the Federal Government in a position subject to full Social Security coverage and taxation under the prior law (e.g., in the uniformed services or a temporary employee);

    Note: Generally, work performed by re-employed Civil Service and other Federal annuitants, except retired members of the uniformed services, are specifically excluded from Social Security coverage other than Health Insurance coverage. Retired members of the Foreign Service who return to work for the Federal Government under temporary appointment (one year or less) as General Schedule employees, are subject to full Social Security coverage.

  2. Legislative branch employees who were not participating in the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) or another Federal civilian retirement system as of December 31, 1983;

  3. Legislative branch employees who were participating in the CSRS or another Federal retirement system (other than one for members of the uniformed services) on December 31, 1983, and

    1. Received lump-sum payments from the Federal retirement system after December 31, 1983; or

    2. Ceased to be subject to CSRS after December 31, 1983.

    Note: Services performed by legislative branch employees covered by Social Security as a result of this provision who: (1) received or filed an application for a lump-sum payment before June 15, 1984, from a Federal retirement system; or (2) ceased to be subject to the CSRS after December 31, 1983, could be excluded from Social Security coverage if they joined the CSRS before August 18, 1984.

    Services performed by legislative branch employees who: (1) were hired after July 18, 1984, after a break in Federal service of less than 366 days; and (2) otherwise meet these requirements, could be excluded from Social Security coverage if the employee joined CSRS within 30 days after they were hired.

  4. Members of Congress, including Delegates and Resident Commissioners of or to the Congress;

  5. The President, the Vice President, and most executive-level political appointees. Generally, this includes positions as Cabinet heads, sub-cabinet members, independent agency top staff, commission members, and political appointees designated by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate; and

  6. Federal judges, magistrates, bankruptcy judges, and referees in bankruptcy. This does not apply to payment to retired senior status Federal justices and judges while actively performing judicial duties.

940.3 What are the exceptions to Social Security coverage for employees hired after a separation exceeding 365 days from previous Federal employment?

If you previously held a position not covered by Social Security and you meet any of the following conditions, your services are not covered by Social Security:

  1. You return to non-covered Federal service after being detailed or transferred to service with certain international organizations;

  2. You return to non-covered Federal service after separation to perform service with the American Institute in Taiwan; or

  3. You exercise restoration or reemployment rights after service as a member of a uniformed service (including service in the National Guard and temporary service in the Coast Guard Reserve).

  4. You return to non-covered Federal service after employment with an Indian tribal government.

940.4 How is employment for all Federal agencies and instrumentalities considered for Social Security purposes?

Employment for all Federal agencies and instrumentalities, including service as a member of the uniformed services, is considered as employment for the same employer.

940.5 What does the legislative branch consist of?

The legislative branch consists of the Congress, the Architect of the Capitol, the U.S. Botanical Gardens, the General Accounting Office, the Government Printing Office, the Library of Congress, the Office of Technology Assessment, the Congressional Budget Office, and the Copyright Royalty Tribunal.

940.6 What type of work performed for the U.S. government is usually NOT covered by Social Security?

Services that remain excluded from Social Security coverage includes work performed from the following:

  1. Inmate of a Federal penal institution;

  2. Interns, student nurses, and other student employees of a Federal hospital;

  3. Emergency employees serving on a temporary basis during certain emergencies;

  4. Many retired Federal judges (age 70 and above) who continue to remain on call to serve on the bench after retirement. These services would ordinarily be covered for Social Security purposes but have been excluded by law for all services performed after December 31, 1983; and

  5. Certain students performing services for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers research and development laboratories. These services are excluded from Federal employment by section 2360 of the Armed Forces Act. Since they are excluded from employment, their payment for services is not covered services for Social Security tax purposes; nor are they covered as independent contractors (self-employed individuals) since they are not in a trade or business.

Last Revised: Jun. 30, 2004