Child Support and Social Security Disability

on Nov 18, 09 • by • with 28 Comments

I can’t tell you how many times this conversation comes up.  And it comes from both sides.  The person who is getting disability benefits and the person who wants to keep getting Child Support.  It gets a little tricky but there are a few things that is very important for people to realize when someone ...
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I can’t tell you how many times this conversation comes up.  And it comes from both sides.  The person who is getting disability benefits and the person who wants to keep getting Child Support.  It gets a little tricky but there are a few things that is very important for people to realize when someone is responsible for Child Support:

1) The child support may go DOWN but it’s not going to go away
Ok, let’s get it poppin!   Under Family Law for most states, a person who is required to pay child support may be able to petition the court to reduce their child support obligation based on a material change in circumstances.   In other words, if their obligation to pay was based on a certain financial calculation at the time they were working, they may be able to lower their payment if certain circumstances arises that prevents that from being able to pay that amount.   I’m pretty sure a disability determination by a Federal agency may be helpful.  HOWEVER, just because you’re on disability doesn’t mean that you NO LONGER have to pay child support.  The clock still runs and as long as you’re receiving benefits, you are still on the hook to satisfy your obligation.  It may be lower but you still have to pay.

2) DIB may be garnished
When you worked and paid into the system, you earned quarters of coverage which allows the Federal Government to pay you based on your earnings.  As a result, if  you are on disability, you may be able to draw money per month based on your earnings.  As a result, most state Department of Revenues have relationships with the Social Security Administration which permits them the ability to garnish a percentage of your disability to satisfy your child support obligation.

3) SSI might not
Most people don’t understand that Supplemental Security Income is a NEED BASED program (in other words, a welfare program).  As a result, when you apply, you usually a) don’t have enough quarters of coverage from your own earnings, b) are disabled, and c) are so poor that you need the monetary assistance to survive.   In some instances, SSI may not be able to get disability benefits because this program is need based.

4) If you got back pay, they can garnish that, too.
Most people think that once they get on disability, they are exempt from child support or any back support.  In some instances (usually with Disability Insurance Benefits), the Department of Revenue will garnish a percentage of the claimant’s back pay in order to satisfy any outstanding child support arrearages.

5) You gotta be ON disability in order to get it done
Alot of time, people think that as long as they are APPLYING for Social SecurityDisability benefits that they don’t have to pay their child support.  First, this almost never works because most judges aren’t moved by an application for Social Security or a letter from your representatives saying that are applying (some judges are sympathetic.  Be happy if you got one).  Second, until you have a determination from SSA that says you are disabled, the courts may not be sympathetic until you get a decision.  Finally, the decision takes so long that the family court is not going to sit there and wait for you to be approved or denied.

6) The Family allowance is not to cover your child support debt (DIB)
Under the DIB program, if you have kids, you may receive an additional amount of money for your children.  However, this extra amount of money is not amount to satisy your child support debt.  Sometimes, people think that this extra money goes towards that obligation.   One, the extra money goes where your child is.  Two, the extra money is NOT designed to cover your support obligation.  Three, you are STILL responsible for child support.

7) You have no choice.  The Government will take your money if you owe child support.
If you are on the DIB program, the State will garnish a percentage of your money.  I hate to be the bearer of bad news but you have NO say so in the matter.  You can appeal and tell them that you need to lower the percentage (good luck with that) but the reality is that states and the federal government have a relationship to ensure that you satisfy the obligation.

Child Support and Social Security can sometimes work funny with each other.  However, the reality is that the Child Support obligation doesn’t go away just because the person is on disability.  However, SSI programs are for those people who really NEED money because they are financially destitute so there is no guarantee that those funds may be garnished.    Disability may not exempt you from your obligation, however, the program you fall under may impact the child’s aiblity to receive it.

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28 comments on “Child Support and Social Security Disability

  1. Priscilla williams on said:

    I have got my disability and I owe some money in back pay for child support. I was incarcerated and they had given me an amount to pay that is exceeding the amout I even get a month. Do I just go to court and get this modified? Also I had gotten a vacancy of my divorce and the child support was part of the divorce, would you know who and what I can legally do about this?

    • If you have some outstanding child support obligation, you need to contact your State Department of Revenue and court if you are looking to modify your obligation. The Social Security Administration relies heavily on the information provided by Child Support.

  2. Ken Foil on said:

    I just received a motion from the general court of justice in NC whereby my ex-wife is ststing that I am in contempt of court for not reimbursing 100% unreimbursed medical expenses for the 3 minor children. At the time I entered into this voluntary agreement I was employed and believed that I could use my insurance benefits to supplement the childrens medical costs. However, I had a serious heart attack and as a result now have an implanted heart device along with many meds to control the risk of death. I am no longer employed and I am receiving disability benefits. The children are receiving money directly sent to their mother as directed by the court and SSI dollar amount accordingly.
    She is suing me in excess of $12,000 for sending the kids to emergency rooms what seems to me to be quite excessive as well as the fact that she has them on several high dollar mood altering prescriptions, etc.
    I can barely make ends meet as is, what are my rights and how do I get help concerning this matter. Thank you for your consideration.

  3. Sarah on said:

    I have a question, I live in Alabama. I currently get monthly payments from SSD from my ex husband for my two children. My son turns 18 in July and will not graduate High School until May 2013, the SSD payments will start being paid directly to my son (which is fine by me). My question is this, is my ex husband still obligated to pay child support to me for my son until he graduates Hight School even though my son is getting paid the SSD directly to him?

  4. Cameron Thorburn on said:

    Hello, don’t know if you do family law or not. I was served papers in February of 2011 including a TRO, now lifted. Long story short, we lived in a house built on property gifted from my parents. We both decided that I will buy her out. She still resides there and is dragging her feet on finding a new house. Do I have any recourse or rights in making her leave? Thank you.

  5. Stephanie H on said:

    I am disabled. I also receive child support arrears since Oct. 1998 court ordered to pay $25 per wk. he was over 35,000 behind when they caught up to him. I receive both SSD(590) and SSI (varies from month to month according to the arrears I received.)
    For the past year, my ex has been telling our son (who is 33 now) that he cannot get his disability because of the arrears hanging over his head nor can his wife get health insurance for him through her employment because of the arrears. He’s insisting that I need to stop the collection for him to get his disability benefits. Is this true?
    He never held a job long enough to have the quarters paid in to be eligible. I’m assuming his would be based on his wife’s earnings. Would he even be eligible to draw SSD when his wife has been supporting him for the last 20+ yrs?
    I would like to put this to rest. Also, a yrly statement I get from OSCE stated that if I were to end the arrears, I would be liable to OSCE for nearly $800 in legal fees. You’re reply would be very much appreciated.

    • My apologies for the late response to your question on my Blog.

      I need more detail in your question. An individual may still apply for and receive Social Security Disability benefits. However, some of those benefits may be garnished if the person has a child support obligation (i.e. arrears).

  6. Melonie on said:

    I have four children and my x was just awarded disability. I am receiving ssi for the kids now. I am also receiving all of his back pay bc he owes 15,000 in arrears through child support enforcement. In addition I will be collecting half of his disability payment monthly as ongoing child support payments. We live in nd and they are very serious about these things. He did try to have it dismissed however all they did was exempt him from any future interest.

  7. i have a child and ssd takes child support out based on 10 years ago. since she has married and had another child. does that affect my amount of child support payments?

    • Thank you for your question, Chris. I would encourage you to contact a family lawyer in your state regarding your issues with child support. Child Support typically depends on the individual who is paying support circumstances as opposed to the person who is receiving. Thank you for responding to my post.

  8. My apologies for the late response to your Blog Question.

    Under the regulations, Social Security Disability is typically exempt from being garnished by creditors with a few exceptions. The Federal Government allows garnishment under 3 limited circumstances:
    1) Federal Debt
    2) Alimony

    Typically, they only take a percentage of the back pay and monthly benefits. Unfortunately, unless you have something to prove the child is not his, your husband may be at risk for a child support obligation.

  9. Shanika on said:

    My childrens father recently was approved for SSI and child support contacted me. We went to court, only for the mediator to tell me that child support was going to close the case and that they cannot take money out of his funds. He owes a toral of $35,000. in child support not includint interest and others and is going to be paid paid backpay of 24,000. I feel that this is very unfair and that something, especially when being disbursed a large amount, should be given to the children for support. Me and the father were together for 15yrs off and on and I support all. He worked maybe 1 1/2 yrs of his childrens life, so him getting a job is unlikely. Is there a way to fight this order…

    • Thank you for your question. There’s not much you can do in this situation because if he is receiving SSI (Supplemental Security Income), this program is more of a welfare program (as opposed to an earnings program like DIB). As such, the government is probably not going to garnish that back pay.

  10. I got shot so I receive Ssi I have a daughter that was born three months early so she receives Ssi too I’m no longer with her dad a he don’t do anything for her at all from the time she was born can I put him on child support

  11. I have been disabled since 6/2010, received a fully favorable decision for SSDI in Aug 2012. Informed my ex that he needed to make an appt with SS office in order to apply for our son to receive a portion of my SSDI. So he receives approx 800.00 a month now, and in our custody papers I was to pay 180.00 a month, plus insurance and 50% of medical bills. Since being disabled, I know longer had insurance, but my current husband continued to pay my child support this whole time. Plus he is getting 21,000 in back pay, I told him not to spend it, that it goes to cigna, my LTD company. he tells me, i am still responsible for child support, insurance etc… and he is keeping all the money from back pay. he refuses to let me see my son, I had to move to Florida related to the cold weather causing increase in pain, and want to see my son more than once a year. Our divorce was in MO, he still lives in MO, different county, I now live in Florida. I know we need to have custody revised to fit current circumstances. But from what I am reading, I still have to pay him child support, even though he is receiving quadruple what I was paying??

  12. Candice on said:

    I am a mother of a five year old and the child’s father is trying to get SSD. We live in the state of TN and he has a back pay of 20,000. He is going to court in a month to try and get his SSD approved. He has not made any type of payment in 4 years. I was wondering if you could clearify for me; that if he does get approved for SSD that the state of TN will pay his child support without him having to send it in first. Thank you for your time and help.

    • Thanks for visiting my blog. Under the Social Security Act, Social Security Disability benefits (DIB) may be garnished to satisfy a debt for a person who has an outstanding child support obligation. SSA and the state Department of Revenue will typically work with each other to address the debt if the person is found to be disabled.

  13. Daniel Wilson (Northern California) on said:

    after 2 years of appeals I was granted SSI benifits due to the fact that I had not earned enough money in my life to qualify for regular Social Security. At the time I had 4 child support cases, 2 of which exceeded $150,000 dollars, the majority of which was interest on a less than $50,000 principal on my 2 oldest children now 29 and 31 years old. I had not paid anything toward this in over 10 years due to disability. Immediately following my being granted SSI I began receiving letters from the D.A’s office closing each of the cases. I called and asked why and they said it was due to my being permanently disabled. None of my nearly $14,000 dollars back pay was taken, I received it all. My credit report reflects the fact that I no longer have this debt so my credit has now been restored as well….So I guess it just depends on where you live and whether they feel like pursuing the wind or not!

  14. Christine A on said:

    Wow, I just taken on this one! I am 100% disabled at this time due to waiting for an organ transplant I have full custody of our minor daughter. My ex has applied for diability due to uncontrolled seizure due to lack of medical coverage to seek proper treatment. He was denied and has a lawyer appealing the decision. My ex had a hearing to have his drivers license revoked and the referree dismissed the charge and filled a motion to have child support redone. I had contacted our case worker (4 times) to inform her that my ex is currently making payments on another support order because they are threatening jail time. And that my ex is working for cash or trading labor with friends so he is really not unable to pay. My case worker never returned my calls. At the hearing with a referree, I said I was willing to comprimise and give my ex a suspension of support obligations until he is able to either get benefits or work and a reduction of the monthy amount. The referree said “It is this courts intention to dismiss all child support obligations due to both parties being 100% disabled. The arrears were also dismissed, by me because I felt at that time it would do me no good to try to fight to collect a past amount when the court had no intentions of obligating him to continue to pay support. I was asked if I agreed with the courts decsion. I said “Yes, if that is the courts ruling I guess I must agree.” The referee then said I could file an appeal if I had grounds to but changing my mind was not a good enough reason to ask for an appeal. She then ordered my ex to inform the court within 30 days of any change in benefits or ability to work and dismissed the case. Now I am reading online that applying for disabiliy is not grounds for dismissal! I was left under the impression by the referree it was the law and the court would order it that way no matter what I said. I just agreed because of that and my health leaves me not wantng to waste time and energy fighting. I have almost a full time job keeping up with medical appointments let alone going to family court to fight with someone who will not pay until they are threatened with jail. He works for cash under the table and makes no effort to pay anything. I have often told him, even sending $20 a month would help with gas for transporting our daughter. It seems like I have no way of reversing this court order since I agreed, assuming it was going to happen regardless. Now I feel like any appeal falls under the grounds of ” you can not just change your mind”. Any suggestions?

    • I really can’t answer that question without knowing some very specific information about your case. The only way I will be able to obtain that information is if you hire me to represent you.

  15. well if your disabilty waz garnished to pay back time child support ant the other party spostta report it to child support becouse i no ssi dont prosses it thouw2 even thow thats what its for

  16. Ann Herrington on said:

    My ex was behind on child support and going to jail for not paying.He was in real bad health, so I went to the child support office and stopped future child support. The courts stopped his child support. He then got his disability approved and is now receiving a monthly check. He says he doesn’t owe the back child support, but from my understanding the court order says he still owe the back support. I’ve been told i could get it from he’s disabilty. Is this true?

    • Under the Social Security Administration regulations, outstanding child support obligations can be garnished from Disability Insurance Benefits. Contact the Social Security Administration office where your ex applied and they can inform you of whether your child is eligible to receive benefits.

  17. Valerie on said:

    I have a question.. I got married 6 months ago and my husband owes back child support for a child he is not even allowed to see (per the mother).. I have been getting ssi for disabled children for both my children in the amount of $710 each.. I did not receive a letter stating either of their benefits were being reduced, however, tonight when the card loaded, my son only received $600.67.. So somewhere $110 is missing.. I called the direct express number and the man I spoke to could not see any errors with the account.. all he could tell me was that the $600.67 was all he saw was to be deposited.. My question is.. Since we are married.. Can they garnish MY childs ssi disability to pay for his back child support? I’m not even receiving child support for any of my 3 children.. Been fighting with the child support department to get the ball rolling but so far nothing.. How can they make me pay for someone else’s child when I have three of my own who are not getting the child support they are supposed to? Is this possible? Can I go talk to my social security office and try to see if theres anything they can do?

    • Anthony Reeves on said:

      It is doubtful that SSA can garnish your money for your husband’s child support. However, you should contact your local SSA office for assistance.

  18. Daniel on said:

    My name is Daniel. Last year I was making great money and happy to have been able to support my child. In a flash it all went away. I was hit by a drunk driver. It was enough to end my carrier. When able, I called the local AG’s office and requested a modification of judgment and went to the hearing. While at the hearing I requested the AG to intercept my SSD payments for back child support. Those who don’t pay, you placed yourself in this situation. The kids have fault as to what the parents did before during and after. I am about to receive my part of SSD. Even if it is nothing. Better my kid have it than it being wasted on non essentials. For the last 10 months I have not been able to support my child. I feel extremely depressed about it. But now that the next stage of my life begins, I can feel proud once again that I am supporting my child but I know it’s not enough67. Don’t wait for the AG to look for you. Stand up and be counted.

  19. Ray Marks on said:

    Child support can go away.
    I had custody of my son for 10 years, he was a pain the ass for all 10 years, and constantly made false complaints to CPS, so much so that CPS actually caught him lying and did a truth lie test on him, and found him lying. He would do anything he could to make me look like the worst father in the world. He was taken away from his mother because she is mental and not fit to raise a child. He go so bad that when he turned 13 he got two felonies for taking, doing, and trying to sell drugs on school grounds. He had stolen hydrocodens from my girlfriends drawer.

    Anyhow, he wanted to go live with his mother as I wasn’t putting up with his BS, and in fact had pulled him into court for a youth at risk petition. He was found to be in contempt several times and had to do community service. He persisted in doing drugs, then failed a drug test which was requested by the courts, because he was only able to get out of bed 50% of the time to go to school. Just a royal pain this kid was. Since he has moved to his mothers, he has several friends here in the complex I live in and has told all of them that my GF and I are the worst parents in the world, all the while we actually spoiled him, offering to cook for him, doing his laundry, cleaning up after him and he was a lazy bum that never lifted a finger. He even assaulted my GF on two separate occasions, which ended up with him getting a bloody nose. My son is 6’6 / 177 lbs.

    Since he has been gone, my car has been vandalized multiple times which had never happened before, and our laundry locker had its lock picked and all of our supply’s were stolen. I wrote a letter to my manage about the escalation of crime and how I’m pretty sure it’s my son acting out against me. We also get frequent knocking on our walls but when we open the door they are long gone, just to harass us. Just today, our manager has decided to change the locks to the building, most likely because she knows that my son ended up with a key because there is a lady in an upstairs apartment that used to house my son while I was reporting him as a runaway, and she signed a deposit for a spare key for $100 so he could have a key.

    Anyhow, his mother is in arrears to me for about 3k in back support. But since she now has him, the state tried coming after me for support, and I requested a hearing hoping I would be declared disabled before the hearing came. I got my hearing and just the week prior, WA state found me to be disabled due to sever cognitive disorders. In some cases I have a sever inability to remember or learn things, and even later on I have a tendency to forget them as well. As a result I’m on state assistance while I’m waiting for my SSI hearing. I will not qualify for SSDI, only SSI, which is NOT garnishable. OSE set me back owed to 0, my future owed to 0, and my insurance obligation to 0. This is the only example I know of where all support is set to 0. It’s because of the type of disability I have. I have dealt with this all my life, and just now decided to get it looked at. I thought most of my life that my problems surfacing were just from people being mean to me, but in fact there was a real problem.

    So I had to post this comment based on this website claiming that child support will never go away. I think for the majority that is correct, but here you can see there is an exception. Reason being, If i’m not able to take care of myself, how in the world could you expect me to pay child support.

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