Section 414 of P.L. 108-203, enacted on March 2, 2004, created an additional situation
in which the 9-month duration of marriage requirement is deemed to be met, for surviving spouses only. Effective for applications filed in or after March 2004, the 9-month requirement
is deemed to be met if SSA determines that the surviving spouse claimant and the deceased
NH would have been married for at least 9 months, except that it was unlawful for
the number holder (NH) (under the law of the State where he/she was domiciled) to
divorce the prior spouse by reason of the prior spouse’s institutionalization because
of mental incompetence or a similar incapacity. The prior spouse must have remained
institutionalized until the time of his/her death, and the NH must have married the
surviving spouse claimant within 60 days after the prior spouse’s death.
NOTE: The new duration-of-marriage exception applies only to situations where the NH’s prior
spouse was institutionalized, not to situations where the surviving spouse claimant had a prior institutionalized spouse. The new exception does not apply in determining
the duration of a surviving stepchild’s relationship to the NH.