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“Common Law Marriage” and Social Security - Yahoo! Finance

Social Security’s rules regarding spousal benefits are quite clear – to be eligible for benefits based on their partner’s lifetime earnings history, the couple must be “married.” It’s the definition of “married” which often catches people applying for Social Security spouse benefits, especially those whose relationship wasn’t solemnized in a traditional wedding ceremony. Such relationships are frequently referred to as “common law marriage.”

But can someone in a “common law” relationship receive spousal benefits from their partner? Well, yes, sometimes, as this Yahoo! Finance article by Brandon Renfro explains. But it’s important to know that Social Security goes entirely by state law regarding “common law marriage.” If the state the relationship was established in recognizes common law relationships as “married” then Social Security will abide by state laws. But only thirteen U.S. states now recognize common law marriage, so the rules can be somewhat tricky and, often, a common law relationship may not be viewed as a marriage by Social Security, meaning that spouse benefits may not be available. But if they are, this Yahoo! Finance article explains the process for applying. Click here to read more.

Also, if you’re unsure about how these basics apply to you, or if you have any questions about your individual situation under Social Security, note that the AMAC Foundation provides a free-to-the-public advisory service to help Americans navigate the complexities of this program. All questions are answered quickly, at no charge. Learn more about it here…

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