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Evidence of Common-Law Marriage

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

1717. Evidence of Common-Law Marriage

1717.1 How do you prove a common-law marriage?

Evidence to prove a common-law marriage in the States that recognize such marriages must include:

  1. If the husband and wife are living, a statement from each and a statement from a blood relative of each;

  2. If either the husband or wife is dead, a statement from the surviving widow or widower and statements from two blood relatives of the decedent; or

  3. If both a husband and wife are dead, a statement from a blood relative of the husband and from a blood relative of the wife.

1717.2 How should the statements be made?

The statements of the husband, wife, and relatives must be made on special forms available at any Social Security office. You must fully answer all items on the forms and in your own words. Also, submit evidence that confirms that you had a common-law marriage, such as mortgage/rent receipts, bank records, insurance policies, etc.

1717.3 What if you cannot get statements from your relatives?

If you adequately explain why you cannot obtain the required statements from relatives, you may submit statements from other persons who know the facts. Provide any other investigative evidence relating to your case.

Last Revised: March, 2001

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There are 4 Comments

My X-husband & I began living together as husband & wife about April of 1984 . We got legally married May of 1988 ,, 12 days before our 3rd child as born. Our divorce was final May of 1995. We filed income taxes together as man & wife 1984 to 1994. Would we be considered married 11 years ? or just the 6 years we were legally married ?
I want to file disability under him but was told we had to be married 10 years.

Is common law the same as domestic partner?
If so, I'm on SSI and I was recently y offered dental and vision if I do domestic partnership with my boyfriend. We do not live under the same roof but this became available to me and I'm not sure if becoming a domestic partner with my boyfriend will affect my SSI benefit..
Can anyone guide me in the right direction so that I can proceed.

Thank you.

We're not qualified to comment on "common law" vs. "domestic partner". However, it seems that in questions regarding these types of union, the SSA seems to respect state law where the people in question live. In other words, any answer will vary from state to state.

For example, the following link may be useful as a reference :

SSI benefits are highly dependent on household constitution (number and relation of occupants) and marital state. Any change in living conditions or marital state must be reported to the SSA.

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