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Unmarried heterosexual couple

We understand that for married couples one spouse, when (s)he reaches retirement age, can claim spousal benefits initially and wait until age 70 and then claim his or her own benefits at that time. This is true as long as the couple has been married for at least 10 years

We have lived together for 23 years in Texas. We do meet the Texas law for a common law marriage. If I seek to claim spousal benefits for myself based on my spouse's account, what information will be needed to make sure that my claim is successful?

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You will want to contact the SSA directly for confirmation, but research indicates there are two ways to qualify for "spousal" retirement benefits :

1) Provide marriage certificate indicating spouse

2) Be in a common-law marriage according to the laws of the state where the worker is residing when the spouse applies for benefits

Note most states (even those in which a man and woman could not enter into a valid common-law marriage) will generally recognize a common-law marriage validly entered into in another state.

http://www.ssa.gov/pubs/10024.html#apply

http://ssa-custhelp.ssa.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/296


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