When a person is qualified for a social security benefit in the United States on the basis of cumulative coverage in the U.S. and abroad under a totalization agreement, the amount of the U.S. benefit payable is only proportional to the periods of coverage earned in the United States. Similarly, the partner country pays a partially or proportionately paid benefit when combined coverage entitles you to a claim. It is therefore possible for a person to enjoy an overall benefit from an agreement of one of the two countries or both countries if he meets all the conditions applicable to the claim. The provisions for calculating benefits used in the United States are uniform in all totalization agreements, as required by law in provisions 42 U.S.C. Determining a proportional amount of U.S. benefits as part of a totalization agreement is a three-step process. The single-family home rule in U.S. agreements generally applies to workers whose interventions in the host country are expected to last 5 years or less.
The 5-year limit for leave for exempt workers is much longer than the limit normally set by agreements in other countries. The agreements work by assigning social security and therefore the tax obligation to a single country, as stipulated by the rules of each convention. These rules can vary considerably, but all agreements have some commonalities, such as the allocation of coverage, so that workers pay social security taxes to one or the other country, not both. SSA cooperates with representatives of its totalization partners throughout the negotiation process and after the agreement enters into force to ensure that workers are covered by the laws of the country to which they attach the greatest economic link. Workers who have shared their careers between the United States and a foreign country may not be entitled to pensions, survivor benefits or disability insurance (pensions) from one or both countries because they have not worked long or recently enough to meet minimum conditions. Under an agreement, these workers may benefit from partially U.S. or foreign benefits on the basis of combined or “totalized” coverage credits from both countries. Totalization agreements are popular with U.S. companies because they exempt employers from paying a dual social security tax.
According to a regular study of net tax savings by the Office of International Programs of the Social Security Administration (SSA), U.S. companies and their employees save about $1.5 billion a year in foreign social taxes based on these agreements. These tax savings help make U.S. operations more profitable around the world, while improving the competitiveness of U.S. trade.