If you do not agree with the decision on your entitlement to benefits under the agreement, contact a U.S. or Spanish social security office. The people there can tell you what you need to do to appeal the decision. This problem is particularly acute for U.S. workers, as the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) and the Self-employed Contributions Act (SECA) impose broader coverage for foreign workers than comparable social security programs in most other countries (McKinnon 2012). Although most countries tax their own nationals only for work on their own territory, the United States imposes taxes on a wide range of economic activities carried out by U.S. citizens and permanent residents outside the United States. Countries where most American workers are transferred tend to impose high payroll taxes to fund relatively generous social security programs. In some countries, the combined share of employees and employers in these taxes can reach or exceed 50% of the payroll (IBIS Advisors 2017). Despite the fact that the agreements aim to allocate social security to the country where the worker is most attached, unusual situations occasionally arise, where strict enforcement of the rules of agreement would result in unusual or unjustified results.

For this reason, each agreement contains a provision allowing the authorities of both countries to grant exemptions from the normal rules if both parties agree. An exception could be granted, for example, if the foreign award of a U.S. citizen was unexpectedly extended by a few months beyond the 5-year limit under the self-employed rule. In this case, the worker could benefit from ongoing U.S. coverage for the additional period. The enabling status in the 1977 amendments is Section 233 of the Social Security Act (42 U.C No. 433), which allows the President to enter into bilateral totalization agreements with countries with a social security system similar to that of the United States. Section 233 defines totalization agreements as executive agreements of Congress, which have essentially the same legal force as treaties, but do not require full ratification by the Senate. In order for an agreement to enter into force, the President must pass it on to Congress, where he must rest for 60 days in front of the two houses, during which one or both houses meet; this period must pass without one of the two houses adopting a resolution of disapproval. A list of countries with which the United States currently has totalization agreements and copies of these agreements can be obtained from the United States.