TN 30 (03-17)

GN 00210.002 Determining Marital Status (Marriages and Non-Marital Legal Relationships) for Title II and Medicare Benefits

A. When to recognize same-sex marriages for Title II and Medicare benefits

We will recognize a valid same-sex marriage as of the date of the marriage, including during periods when the number holder's (NH’s) state of domicile did not recognize same-sex marriages.

1. Use these instructions when marriage is material to entitlement

Use these instructions to determine the marital status of a same-sex couple only when the same-sex marriage is material to a Title II or Medicare entitlement determination.

For example, do not use these instructions if someone in a same-sex marriage files for a retirement benefit on his or her own earnings record and determining marital status is not required.

2. Closed claims

If the claim is closed, that is, if the time to appeal the determination or decision has expired and cannot be extended, the claimant may file a new claim under current procedures. Consider if we can reopen a determination or decision that was denied because we did not recognize a same-sex marriage. For more information about reopening closed claims, refer to GN 00210.030.

B. How to determine Title II and Medicare marital status for same-sex couples

1. Concurrent claims

Use the instructions in this section to determine the marital status of a same-sex couple for the Title II aspects of concurrent claims.

Use the instructions in GN 00210.800 to determine the marital status of a same-sex couple for the Title XVI aspects of concurrent claims.

2. Check existing legal opinions before requesting a new legal opinion

If you need a legal opinion, after following the steps in this section to determine marital status, check PR 05800.000 for an existing opinion that can be applied to the claim before you request a new opinion. To request a new opinion, refer to instructions in GN 01010.815.

3. Steps to determine marital status

Use these steps to determine marital status:




Marriage or non-marital legal relationship (NMLR) in a foreign jurisdiction

Does the claimant allege a same-sex marriage or NMLR celebrated in a foreign jurisdiction? That is, was the marriage or NMLR celebrated somewhere other than in:

  • the 50 United States,

  • the District of Columbia,

  • the U.S. Virgin Islands,

  • Puerto Rico,

  • Guam,

  • American Samoa, or

  • the Northern Mariana Islands?

If yes, proceed according to the instructions in GN 00210.006.

If no, go to step 2.


Transgender or intersex individual

Does the claimant allege that the marriage or NMLR involves a transgender or intersex individual?

If yes, follow the procedures in GN 00305.005 to determine if the marriage or NMLR is same-sex or opposite-sex. For definitions of transgender and intersex, also refer to GN 00305.005.

  • If the relationship is a same-sex relationship, go to step 3.

  • If the relationship is an opposite-sex relationship, do not apply these instructions. To determine marital status, refer to GN 00305.005.

If no, go to step 3.


Non-marital legal relationship (NMLR)

Did the couple enter into a NMLR?

If yes, follow instructions in GN 00210.004 to determine marital status.

If no, go to step 4.

NOTE: If the claimant or NH alleges a prior NMLR to an individual other than his or her current spouse, refer the claim for a legal opinion, according to instructions in GN 01010.815.


Ceremonial marriage, common-law marriage (non-ceremonial), or deemed marriage based on a legal impediment

Did the couple have a ceremonial marriage, common-law marriage (non-ceremonial), or deemed marriage?