US Government Information/SSA survivor benefits
I have a friend that has been with a man on and off for 14 years and has three children with him, ages 11,7, and 5. The man died last year and we would like to know if she would be entitled to widows benefits since they were never legally married, only engaged.
In the obituary, the man's mother listed the children's mother as a girlfriend, and not fiance or wife. Supposedly SSA informed her she was not entitled to widow's benefits since she was listed as only a girlfriend, that if she had been listed as fiance, she would have been entitled to benefits.
Depending on your opinion on this, would you please add any suggestions that might help her raise the three boys, all belonging to the deceased man and has his last name.
Thank you in advice for your assistance.
The children can receive benefits, but the girlfriend cannot. Even if listed as fiancÚ benefits could not be paid to her. She must be a legal spouse either married by clergy/public official or lived as common law in a state that recognizes common law marriage. To be common law, you must consider yourself married and hold yourself out to the public as married. This must not be the case since his mother considered her a girlfriend and not a wife.
If she has not filed for the children she should do that as soon as possible. There is a family maximum benefit payable and it will be reached with 3 children. So even if she was married, as a family they would receive the same total amount per month.