SSA logo: link to Social Security Online home404. Exception to the 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 worker at the time of his or her death and either:

  1. The insured worker's death was accidental (see §404.2 in this section); or

  2. The insured worker'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 and divorced from the insured worker and the previous marriage had lasted at least nine months; or

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

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

    • The prior spouse was institutionalized during the insured worker'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 worker 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 worker'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 worker 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 worker could not reasonably have been expected to live for nine months.

404.2 When is a death considered accidental?

The insured worker'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: Mar. 12, 2009