By DAN MCCUE
(CN) – A group deserves more information from government agencies on a treaty that could provide Mexican nationals with U.S. Social Security benefits, a federal judge ruled.
At issue is a “totalization agreement” Mexico and the United States reached in 2004 on the payment of Social Security benefits. After nearly 10 years, Congress still has never ratified the agreement.
The Social Security Administration says the U.S. has comparable agreements with other countries, and in this specific case, enactment of the treaty would save U.S. workers and their employers about $140 million in Mexican social security and health insurance taxes over the first five years of the agreement.
In July 2008, TREA Senior Citizens League filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act for 19 specific categories of records on the agreement created since 2001.
The nonprofit takes its name from The Retired Enlisted Association and represents the interests of senior citizens.
Ultimately, the State Department identified 124 united, responsive documents. It released 44 of those papers in full, but withheld 43 in part and 21 in full.
The remaining 16 documents were referred to other government agencies for their review and direct resolution.
TREA Senior Citizens League sued, and the federal government moved for summary judgment. In its opposition to this motion, the plaintiff challenged the withholding, in whole or in part, of 19 documents.
U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell largely sided with the senior citizen’s group last year, ruling that the State Department must explain the secrecy surrounding its plan to give Mexican nationals Social Security benefits.
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