Since 2005, TSCL has requested the disclosure of documents relating to the agreement through several requests and appeals by the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). As a result, the first public copy of the 2006 totalization agreement was published to TSCL, but there were no long-term estimates of the financial impact contained in the disclosed documents. Determined to know what the government usually accepts, TSCL filed more FOIA applications and another complaint. Recently, a new federal judge ruled that TSCL deserves more information. TSCL expects that additional documents will be published as soon as possible, unless the government appeals. TSCL is concerned about the financial impact that a totalization agreement with Mexico would have on social security, because millions of people have worked there illegally. Under current legislation, the Social Security Administration uses all income to determine the right to benefits, even if the jobs were treated illegally under invalid or fraudulent social security numbers. According to the latest TSCL Senior Surveys, 87% of seniors believe that the government should do more to prohibit the payment of social security benefits on the basis of illegal work. SSA has no written guidelines or procedures to follow when entering into totalization agreements and the steps it took to assess the integrity and compatibility of Mexico`s social security system were limited and were neither transparent nor well documented.
SSA followed the same procedures for the Mexican proposal agreement that it used in all previous agreements. SSA officials told the GAO that they were visiting Mexican facilities at the moment, observing how their automated systems were working, and identifying the nature of the data managed by Mexican workers. However, SSA did not provide any evidence that it assessed the reliability of Mexican revenue data and internal controls used to ensure the integrity of the information relied on by the SSA to pay for social benefits. The proposed agreement is likely to increase the number of unauthorized Mexican workers and family members who are eligible for social benefits. Mexican workers, who have not normally been able to benefit from Social Security pension benefits because they have not received the 40 coverage credits needed for U.S. incomes, could benefit from partial social benefits with only 6 coverage credits. In addition, under the proposed agreement, more family members of insured Mexican workers would benefit from a new right, since agreements generally waive rules preventing payments to dependant survivors of non-citizens living outside the United States. The cost of such an agreement is very uncertain. In March 2003, the Office of the Chief Actuary estimated that the cost of the Mexican agreement would be $78 million in the first year and increase to $650 million in 2050 (in 2002).