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Marsha411JD, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 20358
Experience:  Licensed Atty, 29 yrs exp in the practice of law.
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I lived with for 32 years but was only married for 4 months.

Customer Question

I lived with Robert for 32 years but was only married for 4 months. I will be turning 60 in October and had applied for survivor benefits for which I truly need.
SS says in no uncertain terms that if I was not married for 9 months, there is nothing I can received, period.
We had both our unmarried then married name on our checks and have both names on our apt rents since 1982.
Am I, pardon my French, screwed?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Marsha411JD replied 1 year ago.


Thank you for the information and your question. The law is strict in that the minimum period that the couple must have been married with the spouse dies, if they are going to claim survivor benefits is 9 months from the date of death. If you live in a State that recognizes common law marriages and you held yourselves out to be husband and wife, by name and by introduction, for over 9 months, then you might be able to hire an attorney to see if they can get a court to declare that you were husband and wife for longer than 9 months. Otherwise, the SSA has no option but to deny your claim.

Please feel free to ask for clarification if needed. If none is needed, then if you could take a moment to leave a positive rating in the box above, I will receive credit for assisting you today. Thank you

Expert:  Marsha411JD replied 1 year ago.

Below is what you just posted in the other new question thread:

His bank account had my name on it before and after our marriage. The same with my bank account. We both signed the leases since 1982. I frequently introduced him as my husband. The will said everything in the home was mine. The bank said I had spousal right and they were mine. The other monies were split between his children and myself.

We lived in Texas. I still do.

I am not a court of law so I can't tell you what they will decide. You will have to hire an attorney for that. But, under the right circumstances, Texas does recognize common law marriages. In Texas in order to have that designation there must be a finding that:

(1) Agree to be married
(2) Live together as husband and wife, and
(3) Told others (hold yourselves out) that you are married.

If that is the case, then speak to a local attorney about assisting you with this issue and the SSA.

Expert:  Marsha411JD replied 1 year ago.

Hello again,

I wanted to touch base with you and make sure that you did not have any further follow up questions for me from the answers I provided to you on the 10th. For some reason, the Experts are not always getting replies, or ratings (at the top of the question/answer page you are viewing or in the pop up box for this question), which is how we get credit(paid by the Site) for our work, that the customer thinks have gone through. In your case I have not received your rating.

Please keep in mind that I cannot control the law or your circumstances, and am ethically bound to provide you with accurate information based on the facts you give me even if the news is not good. If you are having technical difficulties with reading, replying or rating,please let me know so that I can inform the Site administrator.Please note that Site use works best while using a computer and using either Google Chrome or Firefox.

In any event, it was a pleasure assisting you and I would be glad to attempt to assist you further on this issue, or a new legal issue,if needed. You can bookmark my page at:

Thank you.