TN 40 (12-23)

SI 00502.145 Development of Marital Relationships

A. Policy

In certain situations, a qualified alien may be eligible to receive SSI benefits based on their relationship to a spouse. Such relationships must be verified. Allegations of relationship cannot be accepted without corroborating evidence. Use the following instructions to develop marital relationships.

B. Procedure - development of status as a spouse

1. Evidence of Relationship

For purposes of determining whether to credit qualifying quarters (QQs) from a spouse to a LAPR alien or when a qualified alien may be eligible as the spouse of a veteran or active duty member of the armed forces, always request evidence of the relationship.

The appropriate procedure in 2. or 3. below may be used to obtain evidence of the relationship.

2. Evidence of Ceremonial Marriage

a. State Law

Obtain preferred evidence of a ceremonial marriage such as a public record, a church or synagogue record, the original marriage certificate, or a foreign record. See GN 00305.020.

If preferred proof is not available, obtain secondary proof in accordance with the instructions in GN 00305.025. Acceptable secondary evidence of a ceremonial marriage includes a signed statement from the clergy or other official who performed the marriage ceremony, statements of witnesses to the marriage ceremony, a newspaper account of the wedding, or statements from at least two persons who have knowledge that a ceremony occurred.

b. Prior SSA Title II Determination

Obtain evidence of a ceremonial marriage and if necessary, the duration of the marriage. Such evidence includes:

  • A copy of a title II query that shows the entitlement of the alien to spouse's benefits on the record of the alleged spouse. However, other evidence may be necessary in order to determine the duration of marriage; e.g., the NMAR (NH Marriage) screen on the Modernized Claims System (MCS).

  • The alien's allegation of marriage from the SSI application or the Modernized Supplemental Security Income Claims System (MSSICS) AMAR (Marriage Data) screen (MSOM MSSICS 008.008) if the allegation is confirmed in writing by the title II NH (worker) (see RS 00202.070). Follow the procedure in RS 00202.065A., which provides instructions for what constitutes a statement from the NH. For example, in MCS the NMAR screen (MSOM MCS 005.037) constitutes a confirmation by the NH, or you may use the title II application as confirmation. Marriage information may be taken from the NMAR screen or the title II application forms.

3. Evidence of Holding-Out

a. Holding-Out Spouse Living

If an alien alleges they are currently in a holding-out relationship (on the AHOD (Holding-Out Data) screen on MSSICS claims, MSOM MSSICS 008.009), obtain a signed statement from the other person concerning the relationship with the alien. If both allege holding-out, develop the issue and obtain the following information:

  • the date the relationship began;

  • a completed form SSA-4178, Marital Relationship Questionnaire (see SI 00501.153); and

  • copies of at least three pieces of evidence of the type outlined in SI 00501.152C.3.

Follow the guidelines in SI 00501.152C.4. for making the holding-out determination.

b. Holding-Out Spouse Deceased

Use a previous holding-out determination as evidence of the spousal relationship when the holding-out spouse is deceased. Determine that a holding-out relationship existed if:

  • SSA had previously developed the holding-out relationship;

  • the alien and the spouse were determined to be in a holding-out relationship before the holding-out spouse died; and

  • the relationship had not ended before the death of the holding-out spouse.

Evidence of SSA's determination includes the signed statements of both individuals from a prior SSI file that they held themselves out to the community as each other's spouse, copies of records used to document the relationship (joint rental agreement, mortgage or utility bills, etc.), or a printout of the SSR (e.g., a SSID) showing the individual on the alien's record as the alien's eligible or ineligible spouse. Accept the alien's allegation that they remained in a holding-out relationship until the individual's death in the absence of any evidence to the contrary.

IMPORTANT: Do not retroactively develop a holding-out relationship for an alien and a deceased holding-out spouse. A holding-out relationship is not possible if at the time the holding-out determination is being made, the holding-out spouse is deceased since a signed statement by the holding-out spouse cannot be obtained as required in SI 00501.152C.1.

NOTE: For purposes of determining whether an alien may qualify as the spouse of a deceased veteran or an active duty service member who died while serving in active duty in the Armed Forces of the U.S., the relationship must meet certain requirements and the surviving spouse must not have remarried. See SI 00502.140A.7.

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SI 00502.145 - Development of Marital Relationships - 12/13/2023
Batch run: 12/13/2023