TN 2 (03-04)

GN 01702.001 SSA’s Role in Processing Claims Under Totalization Agreements — General

A. Introduction

One of the main purposes of Totalization agreements is to help people who have worked under both the United States’ Social Security system and the system in an agreement country, but who have not worked long enough under either the U.S. or foreign system to qualify for a benefit. Under the agreements, either country can count the number holder’s credits in the other country to help him or her meet the insured status requirements. In these claims, special processes will apply.

Totalization agreements also provide that the United States and our agreement partners will provide each other with limited assistance in helping applicants file claims for benefits. This means that U.S. residents who wish to claim benefits from an agreement country may submit their applications, and any supporting evidence, to the Social Security Administration (SSA). SSA will then forward the necessary information and forms to the agreement country.

This subchapter provides general instructions for processing claims for benefits (U.S. or foreign) under an agreement. In addition to the general instructions in this subchapter, separate agreement-specific subchapters describe special routing and/or development requirements for claims filed under those agreements.

B. Policy

1. Field Office (FO) responsibilities

FOs are responsible for taking claims for U.S. Totalization benefits and also claims for regular or Totalization benefits from foreign countries.

2. Office of International Operations (oio) responsibilities

OIO is responsible for all liaison activities with foreign countries. This includes requesting foreign coverage records, providing U.S. coverage records and/or other information to foreign countries, and providing other requested assistance in accordance with the agreement. OIO is also responsible for final adjudication of a claim for U.S. Totalization benefits once OIO receives the foreign coverage record.

Exception: Under the agreement with Canada, designated border field offices are responsible for liaison activities and final adjudication of claims for U.S. Totalization benefits received directly from claimants either in Canada or in their U.S. service area, see GN 01715.320. OIO is still responsible for liaison activities and final adjudication of claims for U.S. Totalization benefits under the agreement with Canada when the claim is received in OIO directly from claimants or from other field offices, see GN 01715.120.

3. Foreign Service Post (FSP) responsibilities

FSPs are responsible for the same development of a claim as FOs. However, FSP processing and routing instructions vary depending on the agreement involved and whether the applicant is first filing with the FSP or a foreign social security agency. FSPs should, therefore, refer to the subchapter dealing with the pertinent agreement when processing Totalization claims.

C. Procedure

Refer to the general instructions in this subchapter and the separate subchapter for the agreement country