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Federal Benefits
Social Security Benefits Under the U.S. Japan Totalization Agreement

If you worked in the U.S. for less than 10 years, you may be eligible for benefits in accordance with the U.S.-Japan Social Security Agreement (aka Totalization Agreement).

The U.S.-Japan Social Security Agreement, which went into effect October 1, 2005, improves Social Security protection for people who work or have worked in both countries. It helps 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. It also helps people who would otherwise have to pay Social Security taxes to both countries on the same earnings.

Please find a detailed description of the U.S.-Japan Social Security Agreement here (English only).

How to Apply For Benefits under the Totalization Agreement

If you worked in the U.S. for less than 10 years and believe you are eligible for social security benefits, follow these basic steps to apply:

  1. Contact the nearest Japan Pension Service office (Nihon Nenkin Kikou) for an initial interview regarding your eligibility.
  2. If the Pension Service office determines that you may be eligible, they will forward your information.
  3. Your case will be reviewed, and we will contact you directly for processing.
    • Even if you have forgotten your Social Security number, please still apply through the Japan Pension Service office without the number. We will research your number from the information provided in documents such as the Japanese Family Register.
  4. A Claims Representative will contact you directly and process your claim and answer any questions or concerns at this time.
  5. After submitting your application, you may receive a letter indicating that you “do not qualify for benefits … based only on credits under the U.S. Social Security program” and that “We are asking Japan to furnish us information about your coverage under its social insurance program.” Sample letter. (PDF 69 KB) If you have received such a letter, do not be concerned – all this means is that the U.S. Social Security Administration is contacting the Japan Pension Service to see if your combined work credits between the U.S. and Japan will qualify you for social security eligibility. You can expect a follow-up letter from SSA Baltimore within three months from the time you received the current letter. There is no need to take any further action.
  6. Once SSA has completed reviewing your materials and has made a determination regarding your benefits eligibility, they will send you a benefits notification letter.

For More Information

For more information on the Totalization Agreement, please also view our Social Security Frequently Asked Questions page.