TN 22 (04-09)
RS 00207.003 How Remarriage Affects Widow(er)'s Benefits
Soc. Sec. Act 202(e) and 202(f); Public Law § 131 of P.L. 98-21 and P.L. 104-199;
Regulations 20 CFR § 404.335 and 404.336
A. Policy - effect of remarriage on entitlement
The effect of remarriage on entitlement is governed by:
Generally a claimant for widow(er)'s or surviving divorced spouse’s benefits must be unmarried in order to be entitled. Entitlement can begin with the month the subsequent marriage terminated regardless if the marriage ended by death or divorce. Under certain conditions, the remarriage may be disregarded, i.e., deemed not to exist.
Effective for benefits payable after December 1983 the following rules apply:
1. Disabled widow(er)'s and disabled surviving divorced spouse
Disregard the remarriage of a claimant at least age 50 but not age 60 applying as a disabled widow(er) or disabled surviving divorced spouse if:
The remarriage of a person already entitled as a disabled widow(er) (or disabled surviving divorced wife/husband) at the time of the remarriage can be deemed not to have occurred for purposes of periods of disability subsequent to the one in which the marriage took place.
The remarriage of a claimant who:
remarries between age 50-60 and
files for disabled widow(er)'s or disabled surviving divorced spouse’s benefits after attaining age 60 will be disregarded if the claimant was entitled to disabled widow(er)'s or disabled surviving divorced spouse’s benefits at the time of the remarriage.
2. Widow(er)'s and surviving divorced spouse
Disregard the remarriage of a claimant applying for benefits as a widow(er)s or surviving divorced spouse age 60 or over if the remarriage occurred after attainment of:
NOTE: For benefits payable prior to January 1984, the remarriage of a widow(er) may be disregarded if the remarriage occurred after attainment of age 60. The remarriage of a disabled widow(er), disabled surviving divorced spouse or surviving divorced spouse, could not be disregarded and, therefore, precluded entitlement.
3. Example of attainment of age and remarriage
A person attains a particular age on the first moment of the day preceding the anniversary of his or her birth. For details, see GN 00302.400. A widow(er) whose date of birth is March 16th, 1952, attains age 60 on the first moment of the day on March 15, 2012. If he or she remarries on March 15, 2012, or later, we can disregard the marriage as occurring after age 60.
B. Policy - effect of remarriage on termination of entitlement
Remarriage will not terminate the benefits of a person entitled to aged widow(er)'s benefits.
Effective January 1984: Remarriage will not terminate the benefits of a person entitled as a disabled widow(er) or aged or disabled surviving divorced spouse.
Prior to January 1984: Benefits of a disabled widow(er) who remarried before attainment of age 60, or a surviving divorced spouse who remarried at any age, would not be terminated if the marriage was to a person entitled to wife's, husband's, widow(er)'s, mother's, father's, parent's, or childhood disability benefits. The 1983 amendments repealed this provision.
NOTE: A person whose benefits were terminated due to remarriage prior to the change in law must file a new application in order to be re-entitled to benefits.
NOTE: For instructions about same-sex marriage policy, see GN 00210.100.
C. Policy - effect of a void remarriage
A remarriage which is absolutely void does not preclude entitlement to widow(er)'s benefits except where such remarriage constitutes a putative marriage in Louisiana.
A putative marriage in Louisiana has the same effect as a valid marriage on entitlement for months prior to the termination of the putative relationship. A remarriage which is a putative marriage in any of the other States mentioned below will not affect entitlement.
(For definition of putative marriage in Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Louisiana, and Minnesota, see GN 00305.085.)
D. Policy - effect of remarriage before 9/65
Before September 1965, the remarriage of a widow barred entitlement to widow's benefits unless:
the subsequent husband died within 1 year and not fully insured; or
the marriage was void, or under certain conditions, if a voidable marriage was annulled. (See GN 00305.120 - GN 00305.130.)
The remarriage of an entitled widow terminated entitlement unless the marriage was to an individual entitled to widower's, parent's, or childhood disability benefits. The widow's benefits terminated in the same month her husband's entitlement to childhood disability benefits terminated, except when his entitlement was terminated by his death.