SSR 65-39: SECTION 202(g). -- MOTHER'S INSURANCE BENEFITS -- ANNULMENT OF A VOIDABLE REMARRIAGE AND EFFECT OF LATER REMARRIAGE TO OLD-AGE INSURANCE BENEFICIARY
20 CFR 404.335 and 404.336
- Where a widow remarried, having in her care a child of the deceased worker entitled to child's insurance benefits, but the remarriage was voidable and was subsequently annulled, and where during the month of the annulment the widow married an old-age insurance beneficiary and 3 months later filed application for mother's insurance benefits on the deceased worker's earnings record, held, the widow became entitled to mother's insurance benefits under section 202(g)(1) of the Social Security Act effective with the month of the annulment decree, and since her remarriage was to an old-age insurance beneficiary and was subsequent to her entitlement to a mother's insurance benefit, such marriage did not terminate her entitlement under section 202(g)(4) of the Act.
R died fully insured in August 1949, survived by W, his widow, age 35, and C, a 2-year-old child. In 1953 W married S. In March 1955, W filed an application for and was awarded child's insurance benefits on behalf of C based upon R's earnings record. In May 1963, W obtained an annulment of her marriage to S on the ground of fraud. Under the State law, the court had no jurisdiction to grant alimony. Following the annulment, but within the same month, May 1963, W married V, who was then entitled to old-age insurance benefits. In August 1963, W filed an application for mother's insurance benefits on R's social security earnings record. She still had in her care C, who was entitled to child's insurance benefits.
Section 202(g)(1) of the Act provides, as pertinent here, that the widow of an individual who died fully or currently insured may become entitled to mother's insurance benefits if she has not remarried. Entitlement in such case, subject to the exception in section 202(g)(4) of the Act, ends with the month before the month in which the widow remarries or certain other specified events occur.
The first question presented in this case is whether W's marriage to S, which was subsequently annulled, disqualified her from being entitled to mother's insurance benefits on R's earnings account.
Under the law of the State involved, a marriage which is induced by fraud is voidable, i.e., valid unless and until annulled by judicial decree, and when so annulled, the marriage is void from the beginning. A voidable remarriage that has been annulled does not constitute a "remarriage" within the meaning of section 202(g)(1) of the act if the annulling court has no jurisdiction to award permanent alimony. However, in such cases, since a voidable marriage is valid unless and until annulled, a widow who has so remarried and obtained an annulment cannot become entitled to mother's insurance benefits on her deceased husband's earnings record for any month preceding the month in which the annulment decree was issued, nor can a widow whose entitlement to benefits was terminated by such remarriage have her entitlement reinstated for any month before the month of the annulment decree.
In the instant case, the decree of annulment of W's voidable remarriage was issued in May 1963. She filed her application for mother's insurance benefits in August 1963. Under section 202(j) of the Act, such application may be retroactively effective for as much as 12 months provided all other requirements for entitlement are met in such months. Since W could not become entitled to benefits for months before May 1963, the month of the annulment decree, her application is retroactively effective to May 1963; and having met all other requirements she is entitled to mother's insurance benefits beginning with that month. The remaining question, however, is whether W's subsequent marriage to V in that same month terminated such entitlement.
Section 202(g)(4) of the Act, as pertinent in this case, provides that where a widow, entitled to mother's insurance benefits, marries an individual entitled to old-age insurance benefits, her entitlement to mother's insurance benefits, notwithstanding other provisions of the section, shall not be terminated by such marriage. W's application for mother's insurance benefits filed in August 1963 on R's earnings record established entitlement retroactive under section 202(j)(1) to May 1963, the month of W's marriage to V. Consequently, since V is an old-age insurance beneficiary, that remarriage, under section 202(g)(4) of the Act, is not an event which terminates her entitlement.
Accordingly, it is held that W is entitled to the mother's insurance benefits on R's earnings record beginning May 1963, and that such entitlement was not terminated by her marriage to V, an individual entitled to old-age insurance benefits.