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AGO 1951 No. 109 - August 28, 1951
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Smith Troy | 1941-1952 | Attorney General of Washington

PUBLIC PORT DISTRICTS ‑- STATE RETIREMENT SYSTEM ‑- FEDERAL SOCIAL SECURITY SYSTEM ‑- UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION

1. A Public Port District may concurrently contribute to the State Retirement System, Federal Social Security System, and the International Longshore and Warehousemen's Union pension system, but not for the same employees for the same service.

2. It is possible for an employee of a Public Port District to be a beneficiary of two retirement plans.

3. A Public Port District employee not under the State Retirement System may qualify to benefit under the Federal Social Security System.

4. A Public Port District may subscribe to the State Unemployment Compensation Plan.

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                                                                 August 28, 1951

Honorable Clyde James Miller
House of Representatives
Legislative Building
Olympia, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 51-53 No. 109

Dear Sir:

            We have your letter of July 24, 1951, in which you propound the following questions:

            1. May a Public Port District contribute to the State Retirement System, Federal Social Security System, and the International Longshore and Warehousemen's Union (I.L.W.U.) pension system concurrently, or to any two of the systems concurrently?

            2. May permanent employees of Public Port Districts be beneficiaries of two or more of the three systems at the same time?

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            3. If a casual employee of a Public Port District cannot qualify under the State Retirement System, may he become a member of the Federal Social Security System?

            4. May a Public Port District subscribe to unemployment insurance without subscribing to the pension and disability provision of the Federal Social Security System?

            We conclude that all four questions should be answered in the affirmative, but see our analysis for slight qualifications.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            1. If a Public Port District has a group of employees eligible for membership in the State Employees' Retirement System, and another group of employees ineligible for the State Employees' Retirement System, but eligible for membership in the Federal Social Security System, the district may contribute to both systems for both groups.  However, a Public Port District may not contribute to two pension systems for the same group of employees for the same service.  Section 1, chapter 184, Laws of 1951, provides that no existent retirement system or plan can be affected, nor can employees be put under Federal Social Security if now protected by any state or local pension or retirement plan.

            2. In view of our answer to the first query, it would seem that the right to benefit from more than one plan arises from separate services, and not from the same service under two plans.  There is a possibility that one qualified for State Employees' Retirement System benefits might later qualify for Federal Social Security benefits.  There may also be an employee qualified to receive benefits under either the State Employees' Retirement System or under the Federal System who is also entitled to benefits under a private plan provided by a labor union or other association, and to which the Public Port District has made no contributions.  To this no objection is made.

            3. Section 2, chapter 50, Laws of 1951, sets forth persons eligible to receive benefits under the State Employees' Retirement System.  Those not eligible or qualified could qualify under the Federal Social Security System if they meet the requirements of that program.

            4. Unemployment Insurance is a state program and the Old Age and Survivors' Insurance, known as Federal Social Security, is a federal program.  Section 7, chapter 365, Laws of 1951, without qualification, authorizes a Public Port District to subscribe to the State Unemployment Compensation program in the following words:

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            "The term 'employment' shall not include service performed in the employ of this state, or of any political subdivision thereof or of any instrumentality of this state or its political subdivision:  Provided, That this exemption shall not be deemed to apply if the state or any political subdivision thereof or any instrumentality of this state or its political subdivisions voluntarily elects coverage for all or any distinct class or group of individuals in its employ:  And provided further, That the state or any political subdivision thereof or any instrumentality of this state or its political subdivisionsis hereby authorized to pay to the unemployment compensation division for the unemployment compensation fund contributions required of employers by the provisions of this title."  (Emphasis supplied)

Very truly yours,

SMITH TROY
Attorney General

PHIL H. GALLAGHER
Assistant Attorney General

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