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Exception To Nine-Month Duration-of-Marriage Requirement

Excerpted from "Social Security Handbook". See the up-to-date, official Social Security Handbook at

404. Exception To Nine-Month Duration-of-Marriage Requirement

404.1 What are the exceptions to the nine-month duration-of-marriage requirement?

The nine-month duration-of-marriage requirement in §401(F)(1) is waived if the widow(er) was married to the insured person at the time of the insured person's death and either:

  1. The insured person's death was accidental (see §404.2 below); or

  2. The insured person's death occurred in the line of duty while he or she was a member of a uniformed service serving on active duty; or

  3. The widow(er) was previously married to and divorced from the insured person and the previous marriage had lasted at least nine months; or

  4. Effective for applications filed in or after March 2004,

    • The insured person had been married prior to his or her marriage to the widow(er); and

    • The prior spouse was institutionalized during the insured person's marriage to him or her due to mental incompetence or similar incapacity; and

    • During the period of the prior spouse's institutionalization, the insured person would have divorced the prior spouse and married the surviving spouse, but did not do so because the divorce would have been unlawful, by reason of the institutionalization, under the laws of the State of the insured person's domicile at the time (this determination is based on evidence satisfactory to SSA); and

    • The prior spouse remained institutionalized up to the time of his or her death; and

    • The insured person married the widow(er) within 60 days after the prior spouse's death.

Note: The exceptions to the nine-month duration-of-marriage requirement in A., B., and C. above do not apply if, at the time of the marriage, the insured person could not reasonably have been expected to live for nine months.

404.2 When is a death considered "accidental"?

The insured person's death is defined as accidental only if:

  1. He or she received bodily injuries through violent, external, and accidental means;

  2. The insured worker died within three months after the day that the injuries were received; and

  3. The worker's death was a direct result of the bodily injuries, independent of all other causes.

Last Revised: Feb. 4, 2008


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