TN 34 (11-23)

RS 02610.035 Determining the Other Parent


A. Determining the “Other Parent”

Determining the “other parent” is usually not a problem where there is only the Number Holder (NH) and one other parent. However, a child may have multiple “other parents,” such as a step-parent or a divorced natural parent. For payment purposes, a child’s benefits will be payable for a month only if, in that month, the child has one other parent, in addition to the NH, who had resided in the United States (U.S.) for 5 or more years.

B. Definition of "Other Parent"

The “other parent” is defined as the following (see 20 CFR 404.460(d)(6)):

  • Any living parent who is of the opposite sex of the NH; and who is the adoptive parent by whom the child was adopted before the child attained age 16 and who is or was the spouse of the NH on whose earnings record the child is entitled; or

  • The natural mother or natural father of the child; or

  • The step-parent of the child by a marriage contracted before the child attained age 16, to the natural or adopting parent on whose earnings record the child is entitled. As long as a child has one living “other parent” in addition to the NH who meets the 5-year residency requirement, benefits are paid to the child.

NOTE: If the other parent who did not meet the 5-year residency requirement dies, then the child will begin receiving payment the month after the death of the “other parent.” For information about changes in the child's parental status and the 5-year residency requirement, see RS 02610.037.

It does not matter which parent:

  • The child actually resides with; or

  • Contributes the most financial support; or

  • Has custody.

NOTE: Strictly for the purpose of defining the “other parent” we consider the relationship independent of the financial support or legal custody.

C. Multiple Other Parents

If information indicates that multiple “other parents” exist and if there is information in the file indicating the existence and whereabouts of a parent who meets the residency requirement then:

  • Explain to the claimant that they must prove that the “other parent” meets the residency requirement and supports any allegations about the length of a period of residence documentation. For information about establishing the 5-year residency requirement, see RS 02610.039.

  • Advise the claimant that the agency can help them obtain the evidence needed.

D. Parents Whereabouts Unknown

Do not pursue information indicating that a parent who meets the residency requirement is alive, unless you have specific information regarding their whereabouts.

  • Explain to the claimant which evidence is required, and why it is required, and that the failure to submit such evidence will result in suspension of the child’s benefits.

  • Unless specific information is received concerning a parent’s existence and/or whereabouts, consider only the parent for whom SSA has an address.

E. Documentation

Include information on the shared processing screen or the claims development worksheet screen for initial claims as well as domestic to foreign change of address, to document that:

  • The claimant understands that it is their responsibility to provide documentation of U.S. residence; and

  • Unless or until they provide the necessary documentation, no payments will be made to the child.

NOTE: Regardless of whether development is to establish the existence of multiple “other parents,” or to determine whether a child’s non-filing parent ever resided in the United States, the file should be fully documented to support the technician’s actions.


MS 01701.003 Evidence Screen (EVID)

MS 03901.001 Modernized Development Worksheet - Overview

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RS 02610.035 - Determining the Other Parent - 11/06/2023
Batch run: 11/06/2023