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 they were 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 their 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.