The law says that one must have been married to the deceased for at least nine months before the death of that spouse. However, this is only basic because there are many more prerequisites about marriage especially where children are concerned. However, at the same time, there is a slight hitch, if we may call it that, and this is that if one married the deceased when it was apparent that they would not live any longer than nine months, then the surviving spouse would not benefit from the deceased’s social benefits. This is more so in the case of terminal diseases and very late marriages.
But there is much more that regards when one must be married to a spouse before they can collect the benefits after that spouse’s death. One of the instances is where the two had a child and one is either the biological father or mother of the child in question. Such would place that person directly in the line of benefiting from the deceased’s social security benefits.
The nine-month rule would also not suffice if the deceased died just a few months after getting married to the survivor. If it can be proved that the deceased died from an accidental death, where accidental means that he must have died a violent death, then the surviving spouse stands to get the benefits even if they were married for less than nine months. The deceased has to have died at least within three months after sustaining the injuries. Again, if the deceased died in the line of duty, the spouse would benefit. If for example, the deceased was in the armed forces and died in battle or may be in the police service, there was a shootout, and he died, then the surviving widow or widower gets the social security benefits.