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Can partners claim Social Security spousal or survivor benefits?


My partner and I have been living together and in a committed relationship for 21 years. Can we claim Social Security spousal or survivor benefits?

A: In the eyes of the Social Security Administration, only legal marriages and common law marriages qualify someone to claim spousal or survivor benefits. So, because Ohio currently does not recognize common law marriages, we’re sorry to inform you that you and your partner are not eligible.

However, we should note that Ohio recognized common law marriage until October 1991. For anyone whose common law marriage began before that time, it’s likely Social Security will affirm it – though plenty of documentation and proof is needed to officially qualify for the benefits.


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