The opinion of the court was delivered by: Richard Mills, District Judge:
Social Security Widow's Benefits.
When is a dead man's wife not his widow?
Cross-motions for summary judgment.
This case is fact-intensive. The background of this rather
unusual case is lengthy, interesting and — fortunately —
largely undisputed. Many of these facts are drawn from the
written decisions of the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) and the
Appeals Council. The rest are drawn from elsewhere in the
certified record of the proceedings below.
A. Facts from the ALJ's Decision
Appellant was born December 3, 1920.
On July 15, 1947, she married Virgil McEvers (Husband 1). In
August of 1954, she filed for a divorce.
On January 7, 1955, Plaintiff married John Root (Husband 2).
Plaintiff divorced Root on September 19, 1959.
On March 14, 1967, Plaintiff married Evan Parsaghian (Husband
3) "in a formal, licensed and solemnized marriage."
Virgil McEvers, Husband 1, died fully insured on March 7,
1979. Plaintiff reached age 60 on December 3, 1980 and filed
for social security benefits as McEvers' widow on October 8,
1981. She was awarded benefits commencing October, 1981.
Plaintiff and Parsaghian, Husband 3, were separated in
October, 1986. He died in March, 1988.
On March 5, 1988, the Social Security Administration
(hereafter Administration) determined that Plaintiff had
received an overpayment of $39,220.10. This determination was
based on the fact that Plaintiff was married to someone else,
Evan Parsaghian, when she applied for benefits as the widow of
McEvers. The Administration further determined that the first
possible month Plaintiff was entitled to widow's benefits was
March, 1988, when Parsaghian died.
The ALJ's decision stated that Plaintiff had sought an
annulment of her marriage to Parsaghian on January 25, 1988. In
March, 1988, Parsaghian passed away. Plaintiff was granted an
annulment of her marriage to Parsaghian on October 5, 1988, in
an order that declared the marriage invalid as of March 14,
On March 16, 1988, Plaintiff claimed supplemental security
benefits as the spouse of Parsaghian, from whom she was
The Administration was of the opinion that, under the
Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriages Act, the
marriage to Parsaghian, although initially invalid as a
prohibited marriage, became valid in March, 1979, when
Plaintiff and Parsaghian continued to cohabit after McEvers
died and the impediment to Plaintiff's marriage to Parsaghian
The ALJ noted that Ill.Rev.Stat. ch. 40 ¶ 212 provides as
(a) The following marriages are ...