TN 10 (03-04)
GN 01701.100 Overview of Totalization Benefits
A. Definition - Totalization benefit
A Totalization benefit is a U.S. or foreign social security benefit for which entitlement is established only as a result of a Totalization agreement.
All the agreements provide that the United States may use credits from the foreign country to help a person meet the minimum coverage requirements for U.S. benefits. Some agreements provide that the foreign country can count U.S. credits to help a person meet the minimum length-of-work requirement for foreign benefits. However, other agreements do not permit the foreign country to count U.S. quarters of coverage to help an individual qualify for a foreign benefit. Rather, the length-of-coverage requirements for the foreign benefit are simply reduced.
Each country determines eligibility for benefits under its own laws (taking account of the worker’s coverage in the other country, where necessary) and pays its benefit independently of the other. Although each country may count credits in the other country, credits are not actually transferred from one country to the other. Rather, they remain on the worker’s record in the country where they were earned. It is therefore possible for a worker (and his or her family members) to qualify for separate benefit payments from both countries. A claim for benefits under an agreement may result in:
both countries paying Totalization benefits based on the agreement,
one country paying regular (non-Totalization) benefits (if the worker is insured under its system) and the other country paying Totalization benefits based on the agreement,
both countries paying regular (non-Totalization) benefits, or
one or both countries denying the claim.
Foreign pensions based on an agreement with the United States, GN 01701.310