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Stephanie O Joy, Esq
Stephanie O Joy, Esq, Soc. Sec. Attorney
Category: Social Security
Satisfied Customers: 13283
Experience:  19+ years legal exp. - 10+ years owning/operating her own SSD Law practice.
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If I can't find my marriage license in order to file

Customer Question

if I can't find my marriage license in order to file for widow benefits what do I do. can I get letters from relatives verifying when it happened. I have the divorce papers. it doesn't have the marriage date on it. I was married for 11 years. I never remarried.
Submitted: 8 months ago.
Category: Social Security
Expert:  Stephanie O Joy, Esq replied 8 months ago.

Hi, my name is***** and I am here to assist you. I am a social security attorney in my private practice – that is ALL I do. Please let me know that my post here is coming through for you by typing a quick reply.

Expert:  Stephanie O Joy, Esq replied 8 months ago.

Also, what court were you divorced in?

Do you know what State you were married in? Town?

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
Dick hutcherson divorced me in charlotte n.c. in 1976. He was a nascar driver. We. Were married in ga. After a race in augusta ga. Nov.2. Of 1964.we were married rhe 3rd or 4th before we drove back to keokuk iowa where we were both born. I hope you can help me. I am 74 now annd my social security is 711.00 per month. This isn't enough to sustain me.
Please help me. I believe they are stopping thls benefit on may 1st.
not
Customer: replied 8 months ago.
Betty eckland
Expert:  Stephanie O Joy, Esq replied 8 months ago.

No worries! They are NOT stopping divorced spousal or divorced widow benefits on 5/1. Other things are happening that don't effect you.

Expert:  Stephanie O Joy, Esq replied 8 months ago.

That said, Betty, have you inquired of the TOWN in which you were married for a copy of your marriage certificate? When I want my certificate, I requested same of the municipality in which it occurred.

I am also curious why you did not find it in the STATE vital statistics. What was the result? Did you make an OFFICIAL request?
Did that entity have record of your divorce?

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
We aren't through are we. I really need your help. Yes i did write to augusta ga. They say they don't find it. I am ln atlanta and will try to call vital statistics. What else can i do. Is it possible to get affidavids from family that we were married on nov.3 1964. I have the divorce papers. I also have my son's birth certificate saying he was born to us.
Expert:  Stephanie O Joy, Esq replied 8 months ago.

No, I was asking you some additional questions.

I am not aware of affidavits sufficing, but I am going to research further, so hold on, OK?

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
Thank you ! I got a letter a letter saying that no records of my marriage in richmond county. I will call them today to see what i can do to find my license. Do you have anymore ideas. I am due the money if i can just find a way.
Expert:  Stephanie O Joy, Esq replied 8 months ago.

You are not looking for your license, but your certificate. Although, it wouldn't hurt to have your license either. License is that short lived doc that gave you permission to marry. It doesn't mean you got married.

OK, right now I am reviewing this:

https://secure.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/0200305001

It indicates that determining family status, such as a marriage, depends on state law.

Expert:  Stephanie O Joy, Esq replied 8 months ago.

So, likely it is his state where he lived when he died that would be the law the SSA would use to determine if you were married. So, what does that state's law say with regard to the topic, such as, would that marriage have provided you with intestate distribution of his estate (had you not divorced) based on your proofs of marriage? What proofs does that state require?

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
My hearing is not good so i am afraid i won't hear you. Email is good for me.
Expert:  Stephanie O Joy, Esq replied 8 months ago.

Ignore that phantom message about phone calls :)

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
Are we still working on my answer about what i can do to get my widow benefits?
Expert:  Stephanie O Joy, Esq replied 8 months ago.

Yes, read above. The SSA will typically follow you State's proof of marriage laws - so you need to find out what your state would require as proof of marriage, if, for instance, you were to assert you were married for intestate succession purposes. Have you looked into that yet? An estate lawyer in his state of domicile, when he passed, may be the place to start looking for those details.

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
I don't even know what interstate succession is!
Expert:  Stephanie O Joy, Esq replied 8 months ago.

Intestate - it is when someone dies without a will, and the law of the state decides who gets the deceased's estate - typically spouse is first. So that state has rules to define when a person has proven to be the spouse... like in your case, if you were trying to prove you were married to him at the time he died (this is just an example), but you did have a marriage certificate, are there other proofs the state will accept as sufficient proof of that marriage...

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
I still have no clue what to do to find my certificate of marriage.please give me some specific things to try . is there someplace where I could hire someone to help me search. on the interstate thing dick died on the road on vacation and he left a will.
Expert:  Stephanie O Joy, Esq replied 8 months ago.

I still have no clue what to do to find my certificate of marriage.please give me some specific things to try . ------- Try the TOWN where you got married - it should have been filed there.

is there someplace where I could hire someone to help me search. ------- You can hire a private investigator adept at locating such documents. Or, a STATE (his state) lawyer who does ESTATE work, to inquire as to what that state requires to prove a marriage / date of marriage IF certificate seems to be lost; he may also know of a state or local resource that may have had a copy filed with it. You can search on avvo.com for such a lawyer.

It doesn't matter how he died, with or without a will - but the laws of his state, that dictate how to determine who a spouse is/was and what proofs will be necessary when one can't seem to produce a certificate, are what you want to know. Because if you can satisfy those State laws, the SSA will accept you as the former spouse married on XX date. They need to know the XX date because that will be proof of HOW LONG you were married. It is not enough to BE married, but the date is what decides if you are eligible for divorced widow benefits because of the duration of 10 years, requirement. SSA abides by that state's requirements. So that is what you need to learn - that state's proof requirements (state law, not SSA or federal law) of how to prove the marriage and details when you can't locate certificate.

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
thank you for sticking with me. i will see if i can get some help on finding the laws of ga. where we were married or the laws of n.c. where i live?
Expert:  Stephanie O Joy, Esq replied 8 months ago.

I'd first look at the state where HE lived when he died..... that seems to be the state law that would dictate, so inquire there first.