Totalization Agreements

Social Security Agreements with Foreign Countries (Totalization Agreements)

Agreements between the United States and certain foreign countries improve social security protection for people who work or have worked in both countries. They help many people who, without the agreement, would not be eligible for monthly retirement, disability, or survivors benefits under the social security system of one or both countries. They also help people who would otherwise have to pay social security taxes to both countries on the same earnings.

The United States signed Totalization Agreements with four countries in FBU Poland’s service area: Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia. Information about all Social Security agreements in effect can be found at International Programs Overview website.

If you work overseas for an American company or, in some cases, a foreign company that is affiliated with an American company, you and your employer may have to pay Social Security taxes to both the United States and the foreign country on the same earnings. But, if you work in Poland your Social Security coverage will be assigned to either the United States or Poland so you and your employer do not have to pay taxes to both systems.

If you have been sent by your employer in the United States to work in an agreement country for five years or less, you pay only U.S. Social Security tax and you are exempt from foreign tax. On the other hand, if you were hired in an agreement country or delegated to work there for more than five years, you generally will pay Social Security taxes only to the foreign system and will be exempt from paying U.S. Social Security taxes. In the same way, workers who are employed in the United States pay only U.S. Social Security taxes unless they were sent to the United States by their employer in an agreement country generally for five years or less.

Please note that the Federal Benefits Unit does not deal with the SSA tax collection. For more information on the tax aspect of the agreement please refer to your IRS representative or to the SSA International Programs page.

The agreement can help those who have worked in both the United States and an agreement country, but have not worked long enough in either country to qualify for Social Security benefits. Under the agreement, each country can count the work credits in the other country if this will help the claimant qualify for so called totalized benefits.

For example, if you earned at least six Social Security credits in the United States, but not enough to qualify for a benefit, we can count your credits in an agreement country to make up the difference. If you meet the minimum eligibility requirements based on combined credits from both countries, you will receive a partial U.S. benefit that is proportional to the number of credits you earned in the United States. The other county also can use your U.S. credits to help you meet the eligibility requirements for a foreign pension.

Although each country may count your work credits in the other country, your credits are not actually transferred from one country to the other. They remain on your record in the country where they were earned. Therefore, it is possible for a person to qualify for a separate benefit payment from each country.

If you reside in overseas you can file a claim for the U.S. totalized benefits either with the foreign agency in which you are insured or with the Federal Benefits Unit.  Please contact the respective agency or, if you chose to file your claim with us, follow the instructions on our Benefits page.

If you reside in the U.S. you can file your claim with the nearest Social Security office. You can use the office locator tool to find it.