January 08, 2008

Totalization is a Bad Idea

Through a Freedom of Information Act Request, a private group recently obtained a copy of a 2004 agreement between the United States and Mexico that will allow hundreds of thousands of noncitizens to receive Social Security benefits.

The agreement creates a so-called “totalization” plan between the two nations. Totalization is nothing new. The first such agreements were made in the late 1970s between the United States and several foreign governments simply to make sure American citizens living abroad did not suffer from double taxation with respect to Social Security taxes. From there, however, totalization agreements have become vehicles for noncitizens to become eligible for U.S. Social Security benefits. The new agreement with Mexico would make an estimated 160,000 Mexican citizens eligible in the next five years.

Ultimately, the bill for Mexicans working legally in the U.S. could reach one billion dollars by 2050, when the estimated Mexican beneficiaries could reach 300,000. Worse still, an estimated five million Mexicans working illegally in the United States could be eligible for the program. According to press reports, a provision in the Social Security Act allows illegal immigrants to receive Social Security benefits if the United States and another country have a totalization agreement. Read more...


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