Can Social Security use common law marriage both ways?

Asked over 1 year ago - Fresno, CA

I have been on SSI since I was 17. At a redetermination last year it was decided by SS that my bf and I are married because we have a child and my name is on the mortgage. I filed an appeal at that time, they claim to never have received it though my benefits were reinstated after I sent it in. There are many cases in CA of people trying to prove commonlaw to SS because SS doesn't want to pay benefits to widow/ers. I received a letter again that I'm withholding and demanding my 'husbands' personal info (other than mortgage, we own nothing in common and keep separate bills) in order to cut my benefits. It says on their own website that for commonlaw that they go by state law. When I told a worker on Friday that CA is not commonlaw, she told me they don't follow state law. What can I do?

Attorney answers (3)

  1. Amanda Marie Cook

    Contributor Level 15


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . You should speak to a Social Security attorney who can help you file your appeal. I have changed the category for your question.

    THESE COMMENTS ARE NOT LEGAL ADVICE. They are provided for informational purposes only. Actual legal advice can... more
  2. Robert Terence LaPorte

    Contributor Level 5


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . It sounds as if the SSA claims representative made an initial decision that you and your boyfriend were "holding yourself out" as husband and wife to the community, and therefore could be deemed married for SSI purposes. Below is a link to the SSA POMS rule which allows SSA to consider you as married for SSI purposes even if you have not formally married under state law. Just having your name on the mortgage with your boyfriend would not be enough; SSA is required to look at a number of factors (and documents) to see if you identified yourself as a married couple. You may wish to gather documentation from the following to show you have not held yourselves out as married:
    Mortgages, leases, property deeds, bank accounts, insurance policies, passports, tax returns, credit cards;

    Information (preferably documents) from other government programs, such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Food Stamps, public housing, etc.;

    Magazine or newspaper subscription labels, personal mail;

    Statements from relatives, close friends, or neighbors.

    Here's the Link. Good luck.

    This answer contains general information only and is not legal advice. Use of the internet to contact our firm... more
  3. Clifford Michael Farrell

    Contributor Level 19


    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . Many states no longer recognize CL marriage. So, if their decision is costing you benefits, you need to appeal or get a written letter verifying what is going on. What SSA tells you does not matter - all that counts is what is in writing.

    Then, talk to a Social Security lawyer in your area if you have any more questions.

    Best of luck to you.

    The exact answers to questions like this require more information than presented. The answer(s) provided should... more

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Social security refers to several federal benefit programs, including Social Security Disability and Social Security Income, each with different requirements.

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