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Child Support and SSA Disability

Child support is provided to a child during their formative years. It is paid by one of the parents and is mandated by the court. The goal of child support is to ensure that if parents divorce or separate the child is able to maintain their current standard of living, which the court has determined should not substantially decrease due to the change in their living arrangement.

For example, if the custodial parent is unable to provide the financial support that the noncustodial parent enjoys, the assumption made by the court is that the noncustodial parent is responsible for paying an amount of child support that reflects their lifestyle. The courts often award child support as a percentage of the noncustodial parent’s income.

Child support may have to be paid by either the mother or the father and payments are made on a monthly basis. The optimum method of child support collection is done by payroll deduction prior to the parent receiving their wage. This type of payment structure has eliminated some of the law enforcement efforts that tend to be costly and time consuming.

How is child support paid if the paying parent is on SSA disability?

Many claimants want to know what will happen to their child support payments if the noncustodial parent becomes disabled and no longer has an earned income from employment, but is instead, relies on the Federal Government each month for financial support through either Supplemental Security Income or Social Security Disability Insurance. Whether or not your ex-spouse or partner’s disability benefits will be garnished for child support will depend on what type of disability payment they are receiving.

According to Social Security Ruling 79-4, “the Social Security Administration can withhold a percentage of a claimant’s Social Security Disability Insurance or SSDI benefits in an amount equal to what SSA could withhold to pay delinquent income tax debt.”

Prior to withholding any type of payment the Social Security Administration should notify the claimant 60 days in advance. So if your ex-spouse or partner is receiving Social Security Disability Insurance benefits the amount of payment could be reduced by the courts, especially if the monthly amount of SSDI benefits they are receiving is substantially lower than their prior wages, but you should continue to receive some type of child support payment.

Unfortunately, if your ex-spouse or partner does not qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance, which means that they have not been working and paying employment taxes and are not “insured” for SSDI benefits, assuming they are determined disabled by the Social Security Administration they will only be entitled to receive Supplemental Security Income (assuming they meet the income and resources requirements for SSI).

Supplemental Security Income is not generally seized for child support. The Supplemental Security Income payment is considered a “public welfare benefit” and is not derived from the claimant’s earnings record. Supplemental Security income is similar to other public benefits that are not seized such as food stamps.

So to answer the question, if your ex-spouse is receiving Social Security Disability Insurance, although the amount of child support paid may be reduced by the court, you should still receive some type of payment. If your ex-spouse is receiving Supplemental Security Income, you may not receive child support.
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