Most parents want to support their children, and this does not change following a divorce. But what do you do if you receive Social Security Disability payments? How much will you have to pay? Will the government garnish your disability benefits pay check? Recently on our divorce forum a user asked, “If I am currently receiving Social Security Disability benefits will I have to pay child support after my divorce?
Disability Benefits and Child Support
If you have been ordered by the court to pay child support and you are currently receiving Social Security Disability Insurance, your obligation to pay child support is not waived. You will still be required to contribute financially to your child’s care, especially if they are not living with you.
What if you are paying child support and you become severely disabled and are not able to make the same child support payments? The courts recognize that sometimes life gets in the way of meeting court-mandated obligations. If your income has substantially been lowered for any reason you can petition the court to lower the amount of the child support you are responsible for paying, and the court is likely to adjust your payments to align more closely with your current income.
The one caveat is child support back pay. Even if you are successful in getting your future child support payments modified, if you have missed payments and have back child support due, these payments will still have to be made.
Child support, wage garnishment and SSDI Disability Benefits
Another common question divorced parents often ask is, “Can my disability benefits be garnished to pay my child support?” Whether or not your disability benefits can be garnished depends on the type of benefits you are currently receiving.
The Social Security Administration provides two types of disability benefits: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). If you are receiving SSDI benefits, these benefits can be garnished. If you are receiving SSI benefits, these benefits cannot be garnished.
Consider also, if you have back pay owed to you from the SSA due to the lengthy processing time by the Social Security Administration the SSA may be allowed to garnish your back pay to fulfill your child support obligation. They will not take the entire back payment, but they will garnish a percentage of the payment before they distribute the payment to you.
Does my disability auxiliary benefit count towards my child support payment?
If you are receiving Social Security Disability Insurance benefits (under some conditions) your child may be eligible to receive an auxiliary benefit, which means they will also receive a monthly payment.
This SSDI auxiliary payment, however, is not considered your child support payment. So while you may be tempted to subtract this amount from your child support payment obligation and assume it can go towards the amount owed, this is not true. The two payments have nothing to do with each other. If your child is getting the auxiliary payment this is in addition to your child support payment obligation.
(Auxiliary payments are only allowed under Social Security Disability Insurance Supplemental. Security Income does not provide any type of dependent benefit.)
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