Since 1978, the United States has established a network of bilateral Social Security
agreements that coordinate the U.S. Social Security program with the comparable programs
of other countries. The agreements, commonly known in the United States as "Totalization"
agreements, are authorized by section 233 of the Social Security Act. Subchapter GN
01701 includes an overview of the main provisions of the agreements as well as a current
listing of the agreements now in effect.
The instructions in this subchapter deal specifically with the provisions of U.S.
Totalization agreements that eliminate dual Social Security coverage and taxation.
Dual coverage is the situation that occurs when a person from one country works in
another country and is required to pay Social Security taxes to both countries on
the same earnings.
Dual coverage typically affects U.S. citizens and residents when they work in another
country for an American employer. Such work is covered by U.S. Social Security and
is usually also covered by the foreign country's Social Security system. Foreign nationals
who work in the United States face similar problems since their work is frequently
covered by both the United States and their home countries. Each agreement includes
rules that eliminate dual coverage by assigning a worker's coverage to only one country.
The rules of each agreement are explained in the following sections of this subchapter.