Social Security: How Does the SSA Verify Marriage?

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If you recently married and changed your last name or if you’re applying for a Social Security spousal benefit, you’ll need to provide evidence to the Social Security Administration of your marriage.

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To prove a marriage, the SSA says to provide one of the following:

  • Certified copy of (or statement as to) a public record of marriage: This must be a certified photocopy, or a statement as to, a public record of marriage certified by the custodian of the record or by an authorized SSA, State Department or VA employee.
  • Certified copy or statement of a religious record of marriage: This document must also be certified by the custodian of the record or by an authorized SSA, State Department or VA employee.
  • Original certificate of marriage
  • Foreign records: The foreign document must be based on church or civil records which are pursuant to the foreign law showing the individuals as a married couple. If a translator is needed, they will evaluate the record for accuracy, validity and authenticity.

According to the SSA, proof of marriage does not include a souvenir certificate (SC), also known as a keepsake, ornate, ceremonial, complimentary, goodwill, memento or heirloom certificate.

If you cannot provide proof of marriage, you may be asked to request proof from the custodian of the record. The marriage record must contain enough information for an audit trail.

Approved religious marriage records are either the original religious certificate of marriage or a certified copy of the religious marriage record. 

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The original religious certificate of marriage must show the date and place of the ceremony, completed and signed by the officiating clergyman and given to the couple at the time of the ceremony. A copy or an extract from the original record is also acceptable if it is certified by the custodian of the religious records in his/her official capacity or by an authorized SSA, State Department or VA employee.

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About the Author

Josephine Nesbit is a freelance writer specializing in real estate and personal finance. She grew up in New England but is now based out of Ohio where she attended The Ohio State University and lives with her two toddlers and fiancé. Her work has appeared in print and online publications such as Fox Business and Scotsman Guide.

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