After McCaskill Advocacy, St. Louis Airport Workers’ Social Security Benefits will be Fully Protected

Restoration agreement reached in stakeholder meeting Senator convened to fix issue—after she challenged the agency’s decision to strip 70 Lambert-St. Louis Airport workers & dependents of Social Security benefits

WASHINGTON – After sustained advocacy from U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill to protect Social Security benefits for 70 St. Louis workers and their dependents, an agreement has been reached on a path forward that will allow the workers to keep their full benefits.

Today’s agreement—which is both retroactive for current workers and applicable for all new future hires—comes after the Social Security Administration issued a decision earlier this year removing the workers from the benefits program. McCaskill, the top-ranking Democrat on the Senate Committee on Aging, called on the agency to reverse the decision.

“Today’s agreement is great news for the 70 Missourians who spent years paying into a system they were recently deemed ineligible for—a broken promise I was thrilled to put back together,” McCaskill said. “Not only that, but I’m also hopeful it’ll give others looking to get into public service the reassurance that their government stands behind them and the benefits they earn will be secure. I’m really proud something happened today that doesn’t happen often enough—folks from all sides of this issue got together to hammer out a solution that’ll actually fix red tape and protect hardworking Missourians.”

“Today's meeting was a positive step towards ensuring the officers of our Airport Police Division have retirement benefits that reflect they service they provide to our community," said St. Louis Police Commissioner Sam Dotson. "I am encouraged by the productive dialogue as we move forward.”

The agreement was reached at a meeting organized by McCaskill that included St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson, as well as representatives from McCaskill’s office, the St. Louis City Council, St. Louis Police Union, St. Louis Airport, City of St. Louis, and several divisions of the Social Security Administration, including the Deputy Regional Commissioner's Office, Office of the General Counsel, Office of Legislation & Congressional Affairs, and the Office of Retirement & Disability Policy.

This spring, state of Missouri and city of St. Louis were informed by the Social Security Administration that 70 workers at St. Louis Airport would be considered police officers by the agency, and therefore ineligible for Social Security under Missouri’s “Section 218” agreement with the agency. Such agreements determine whether state employees are eligible for Social Security. Missouri’s Section 218 agreement was written in 1951 and excluded police officers, specifically carving out “employees of the police department…employed by the board of police commissioners”—common language for first responders in Section 218 agreements. The security workers at Lambert were historically separate from the St. Louis police department. On Wednesday, SSA and the city committed to working together over the next several months to iron out the final details that would ensure full coverage for all airport security workers.

McCaskill’s letter to the Social Security Administration is available HERE.