20 CFR 404.1103

SSR 63-47

Within a few days after being divorced from her first husband, the claimant married the worker who was the father of her child born prior to such marriage. Held, for purposes of entitlement to wife's insurance benefits, she qualified as the wife of the worker as of the month of her marriage to him.

The claimant, W, separated from her husband, H, in 1927 and began living with R, the worker, without obtaining a divorce from H. A son, C, was born to W and R in 1930. R became entitled to old-age insurance benefits in May 1961. In January 1962, H and W were divorced without restriction as to remarriage by either party. In the same month, W married R and filed application for wife's insurance benefits based on R's earnings record.

The issue is whether W can become entitled to wife's insurance benefits on R's earnings record. To be entitled to wife's insurance benefits on a worker's earnings record, under section 202(b) of the Social Security Act, a woman must (in addition to other requirements, all of which W met) be that worker's wife as defined in section 216(b).

Under section 216(b), a worker's wife is his "wife" for purposes of entitlement if she meets anyone of the following conditions: (1) she has been married to him for a period of not less than 1 year immediately preceding the day on which her application is filed, or (2) she is the mother of his son or daughter, or (3) in the month before the month she married him, she either (A) was entitled to widow's or parent's insurance benefits, or could have been entitled to such a benefit if she had then been age 62 and had filed application, or (B) was age 18 or over and was either entitled to, or upon filing application would have been entitled to, child's insurance benefits.

In this case, W had not been married to R for at least a year before she filed application for benefits, nor was she, in the month before her marriage to R, eligible or potentially eligible for or entitled to any other benefits. Therefore, to be entitled to benefits on R's earnings record, she must be "the mother of his son or daughter." These words are not specifically defined in the law; hence, they may properly be interpreted in their normal signification.

This makes it necessary only to ascertain the paternity of the claimant's child to determine whether the claimant meets this requirement for qualifying as the "wife" of the worker. It is not necessary to determine whether the child meets any of the tests in section 216(h)(2) for being considered a "child" of the worker for purposes of entitlement to child's insurance benefits. It was established in this case by convincing legal evidence that W as the mother of C and that R was his father.

Accordingly, it is held that W qualifies as R's wife under section 216(b) and, therefore, is entitled to wife's insurance benefits on his earnings record effective January 1962, the month she married R and the first month in which she met all requirements for entitlement to wife's benefits.

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