Totalization is a Bad
January 8, 2007
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.
agreement creates a so-called ďtotalizationĒ 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.
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
important to note that Congress, like the American people, heretofore had not
seen this totalization agreement.
This decision to expand our single largest entitlement program was made
with no input from the legislative branch of government.
If the president signs it, Congress will have to affirmatively act to
override him and in essence veto the agreement.
This is the opposite of how itís supposed to work.
are obvious reasons to oppose a Social Security totalization agreement with
our Social Security system already faces trillions of dollars in future
shortages as the Baby Boomer generation retires and fewer young workers pay into
the system. Adding
hundreds of thousand of noncitizens to the Social Security rolls can only hasten
the day of reckoning.
Social Security never was intended to serve as an individual foreign aid program
for noncitizens abroad.
Remember, there is no real Social Security trust fund, and the
distinction between income taxes and payroll taxes is entirely artificial.
The Social Security contributions made by noncitizens are spent
immediately as general revenues.
So while itís unfortunate that some are forced to pay into a system
from which they might never receive a penny, the same can be said of younger
If noncitizens wish to obtain Social Security benefits, or any other U.S.
government entitlements, they should seek to become U.S. citizens.
totalization agreements allow noncitizens to quality for Social Security
benefits by working in the U.S. as little as 18 months.
A Mexican citizen could work here for only a year and a half, return to
Mexico, and retire with full U.S. benefits.
This is grossly unfair to Americans who must work more quarters even to
qualify for benefits-- especially younger people who face the possibility that
there may be nothing left when it is their turn to retire.
Those in favor of sending U.S. Social Security benefits to Mexican citizens argue that crushing poverty in Mexico demands some form of U.S. assistance to that country's aged. While poverty in Mexico truly is deplorable and saddening, the fact remains that Congress has no constitutional authority to enact what is essentially another foreign aid program.