What Can I Do To Get Benefits From The Record Of My Common-Law Spouse?

Apr 23 2020 - 5:17pm

I was commonlaw married in PA since 1991. We were together for 31 yrs and raised a family. We split and I moved to NY. I've applied 3 times and been refused. They won't even get back to me. I will be 67 this year and if accepted will pay more for medicare. I've called the main office and my local. They're telling me to appeal for the 2nd time. Getting tired of the runaround.


If you've applied for benefits and your claim was disallowed, your only options are to file an appeal or file a new claim. Appeals must normally be filed within 60 days of your disallowance notice, and there are several levels of appeal that can be pursued (https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10041.pdf). It's generally better to pursue the appeals process at least through the hearings level as opposed to filing a new claim, because doing the latter is like starting from scratch.

I can tell you that's it's difficult at best to establish proof of common-law marriage, and if your spouse is still living and doesn't support your allegation of a common-law marriage then you'll be fighting an uphill battle. Social Security follows the laws of the individual states in establishing common-law marriages, so you may want to review the following reference from Social Security's operations manual to see what must be proven: https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/poms.nsf/lnx/0200305075.

Even if you do establish sufficient proof of the existence of a common-law marriage, though, your question doesn't contain enough information for me to be able to tell you whether or not you'd meet the other eligibility requirements to draw benefits from your spouse's Social Security record. The requirements for spousal benefit eligibility can be found in the following reference from Social Security's handbook: https://www.ssa.gov/OP_Home/handbook/handbook.03/handbook-0305.html.

Best, Jerry