Can Disability Benefits be taken in Order to Pay for Child Support?
The answer is yes and no. Yes, your Social Security disability insurance benefits can be taken in order to satisfy a child support obligation. No, your SSI disability benefits cannot be taken in order to satisfy a child support obligation.
Social Security disability insurance is also known as SSDI and refers to a disability benefit that you had to pay Social Security taxes for in order to be eligible. Since SSDI is based on your earnings record, it is more like regular income – it comes from payroll tax deductions or self-employment tax deductions. Because SSDI is similar to regular income, it can be taken by the government in order to satisfy a child support obligation. In other words, SSDI is considered income under the child support guidelines.
Supplemental Security Income is also known as SSI and is a needs-based disability program for low-income people. You do not have to pay taxes in order to be eligible for SSI. SSI is a welfare program, just like food stamps and AFDC funds. Since SSI is classified as welfare, it cannot be taken by the government in order to satisfy a child support obligation. In other words, SSI is not considered income under the child support guidelines.
Child Support Modification Needed if Receiving Disability Insurance Benefits
If you are receiving disability insurance benefits (SSDI), this will not eliminate your child support obligation, even though you cannot work. However, the mere fact that your income has been reduced because of your disability could justify a modification in the child support order allowing for a smaller monthly payment. Normally, a modification in a child support order will require the court system to approve this change. In addition, back child support may or may not be modified depending on the circumstances of the case. Therefore, it is possible that a percentage of disability insurance could be taken in order to satisfy an old child support obligation.
Proof of SSI Must be Given to the Court
If you have already been ordered to pay child support and you are now receiving SSI, you must obtain a statement from the Social Security Administration that shows you are receiving SSI. Give the statement to the court. You will need to tell the court that SSI is your only income and that you are unable to pay child support.
If you are awarded Social Security disability insurance benefits (SSDI), your dependents may also be able to receive auxiliary benefits. Are these auxiliary benefits going to your child considered child support? Not really, child support and auxiliary benefits are two different things. However, it may be possible to have your child support obligation reduced by the amount of the auxiliary benefits going to your child.
Jail, Child Support, and Disability
If you are disabled and being threaten with jail for not paying child support, you will need to show evidence of why you cannot work. Letters from the Social Security Administration showing an active case or favorable decision will be relevant. Even though your disability case may not have been decided yet, you can present evidence to the court that you are in the process of obtaining disability. A letter from your Social Security Disability attorney will be very helpful to the judge. If you do not have a Social Security lawyer, then you can contact the local Social Security office where you originally filed your disability case and obtain a copy of your disability application. This disability application will show a reasonable explanation as to why you cannot meet your child support obligation. Keep in mind that the court will want to see proof of a favorable disability decision sooner or later in order to modify or excuse a child support obligation.