D, a fully insured worker, died domiciled in Illinois in May 1962, and W filed application for widow's insurance benefits on his earnings record. D and W, who were first cousins, were married in a ceremony performed in Indiana in 1918. They were both residents of Illinois at the time of the marriage; immediately after the ceremony they returned to that State, and lived together in Illinois until D's death. W and D never intended to reside in Indiana, but W believed in good faith that their marriage contracted there was valid.
The question is whether W is entitled to widow's insurance benefits on D's earnings record. This depends on whether she qualifies as his widow under section 216(h)91) of the Act, since she meets all other requirements for the benefits claimed.
Under section 216(h)(1)(A) of the Act, as pertinent here, a woman is the widow of a worker if the courts of the State in which he was domiciled at the time he died (in this case, Illinois) would find either (1) that the woman and worker were validly married at the time he died or (2) that the woman would have the same status as his widow for purposes of sharing in his intestate personal property.
Under section 216(h)(1)(B), a claimant who does not meet the requirements of section 216(h)(1)(A) may nevertheless be deemed to have been validly married to the worker for purposes of entitlement to widow's insurance benefits if she meets all of the following conditions: (1) She in good faith went through a marriage ceremony with the worker, not knowing of a legal impediment which made the marriage invalid; (2) the legal impediment resulted: (i) from the continued existence of a prior marriage of either party, or arose out of the dissolution of the prior marriage; or (ii) from a defect in the procedure followed in connection with the claimant's ceremonial marriage to the worker; (3) she was living in the same household with the worker when he died; and (4) at the time she files application, there is no other woman who meets the requirements of section 216(h)(1)(A) and who is or has been entitled to wife's, widow's, or mother's insurance benefits on the worker's earnings record.
Under Illinois law, marriages between first cousins are declared by statute to be absolutely void. Chapter 89, Section 1, Smith-Hurd Illinois Statutes Annotated; Arado v. Arado, 281 Ill. App. 123, 117 N.E. 816 (1917). Furthermore, where a person (or persons) who resides and intends to continue to reside in Illinois contracts a marriage which is prohibited and declared void in Illinois, such marriage is null and void in that State irrespective of where such marriage was contracted. Chapter 89, Section 19, Smith-Hurd Illinois Statutes Annotated; Whelan v. Whelan, 346 Ill. App. 445, 105 N.E. 2d 314 (1952). This provision has been in effect since 1915. Under Illinois law, a void marriage has no legal efficacy for any purpose and its invalidity may be shown in any court between any parties, either in the lifetime of the parties thereto or after their death. Jardine v. Jardine, 211 Ill. App. 152, 9 N.E. 2d 645 (1937). Thus, under Illinois law, W was not validly married to D when he died, nor would she have the status of his widow for purposes of sharing in his intestate personal property. Therefore, D does not meet either of the requirements under section 216(h)(1)(A).
It remains to determine whether W meets all of the conditions of section 216(h)(1)(B).
W went through a marriage ceremony with D and believed in good faith that their marriage was valid. She was living in the same household with D when he died, and no other woman who meets the requirements of section 216(h)(1)(A) is or has been entitled to wife's, widow's, or mother's insurance benefits on his earnings record. However, the provisions of section 216(h)(1)(B) do not apply unless the legal impediment making the marriage invalid is one of those specifically set forth in that section. The impediment to W's marriage to D did not arise from the continued existence of a prior marriage or the dissolution of a prior marriage of either one, nor from a defect in procedure in connection with their own marriage. The incapacity of the parties to enter into the marriage because of their relationship as first cousins is a substantive and not a procedural defect within the meaning of section 216(h)(1)(B). Thus W does not meet all of the conditions necessary to qualify as D's widow under section 216(h)(1)(B).
Accordingly, it is held that W does not qualify as the widow of D under either clause (A) or (B) of section 216(h)(1), as required for entitlement to widow's insurance benefits. She is therefore, not entitled to such benefits.
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