The Social Security Administration (SSA) defines police officer positions as those
that are charged primarily with one or more of the following characteristic functions:
Preventing and detecting crimes; and
SSA will determine if a position constitutes a police officer position for purposes
of coverage under a State's Section 218 Agreement. In evaluating whether a position
is a police officer position, SSA looks at how State statutes or court decisions characterize
the position. If SSA determines that State statutes and court decisions clearly and
completely resolve its determination, then SSA will base its determination on those
sources. If the issue is not clearly and completely resolved, SSA will consider the
following additional factors, in order of importance:
The degree to which any one or more of the three main characteristic functions constitute
the primary duties of the position, as described in the position description;
How many of the three main characteristic functions identified above are performed
in the position as described in the position description;
Any guidance from the State’s attorney general about how the State views the position;
Whether the position exists within a regularly organized police department.
In order to facilitate SSA’s determination in particular cases, the State Administrator
should provide SSA, as soon as practicable following SSA’s request, the position descriptions
for all positions in question as well as any other relevant information or evidence
known to the State Administrator. The State may choose to submit to SSA an interpretation
by the State’s attorney general on the whether a position is a police officer position.
SSA will give due weight to a State attorney general’s determination as part of its
overall analysis, but is not bound by that determination. Where the State attorney
general is unable or unwilling to provide SSA with a determination, SSA will proceed
to make its own determination without the attorney general’s input.
If the State wishes to submit a determination from its attorney general, the State
should do so in a timely manner. Failure to do so may result in SSA proceeding to
make its determination without the attorney general’s input.
Generally, SSA will not find a position to be a police officer position solely because
the services performed are connected with police officers or police departments.
If SSA determines that a position does not engage in at least one of the characteristic
functions identified above, SSA will generally conclude that the position is not a
police officer position, regardless of the position’s characterization in State statutes
or court decisions.
Positions including game wardens, foresters, forest patrollers, crime investigator
supervisors, police department stenographers, sheriffs, and highway patrollers may
or may not qualify as police officer positions, depending on the particular facts
and circumstances involved.