In this article...

Watch Our Video
Kevin O'Flaherty

Do I have to pay child support from my disability benefits? Yes, in many cases—especially if your disability income comes from Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). However, if you’re on Supplemental Security Income (SSI), your child support obligations might differ. This article dives into the specifics: clarifying the connection between disability benefits and child support payments to help you understand your financial responsibilities.

Child Support and Disability Benefits: What You Need to Know

Obligations for child support remain in effect even when a parent is receiving disability benefits. The Social Security Administration offers two distinct types of disability programs: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which can both affect the amount required to be paid as child support. Included within these calculations are social security disability payments.

Social Security Disability Insurance, also known as SSDI, serves individuals who have contributed to the Social Security tax system through prior work history, whereas Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, assists those with limited resources and income on a need-based criterion. Regardless of their differences in nature, they are each factored into gross income assessments when calculating necessary child support payments. If a disabled parent’s sole source of revenue comes from these benefits alone, there may be exceptions regarding their necessity to pay child support out of such funds.

SSDI and Child Support

Individuals who receive SSDI must understand that their disability benefits can be garnished to fulfill child support obligations. Like any other form of income, ssdi payments are included in the calculation for determining how much a parent should pay to support their child.

The obligation to pay child support is not waived even if one is receiving disability benefits. The essence of this policy is rooted in safeguarding the financial wellbeing of children by ensuring they maintain essential monetary support, regardless of a parent’s ability or inability due to disability.

SSI and Child Support

SSI benefits, unlike those from SSDI, cannot be seized for the purpose of child support payments. This is because SSI aims to ensure individuals who have low income and are aged, blind, or disabled can maintain a basic quality of life. It’s seen as public welfare assistance rather than an earned income source.

When calculating eligibility and benefit amounts for SSI recipients who are children, child support does play a role. Within the framework of the SSI program, these payments count as unearned income where two-thirds affect how much SSI support a qualifying child receives. As such, though there’s safeguarding against garnishment in place via SSI ensuring fundamental financial needs are met, receipt of child support still plays into determining potential adjustments to a dependent’s benefits received through SSI.

Am I Still Responsible For Paying Child Support While Collecting SSDI?

The short answer is yes; you still must pay child support if you become disabled and begin collecting Social Security Disability Insurance. To qualify for SSD benefits, you must have worked in a job that paid into Social Security, and the medical condition must meet Social Security’s definition of disability. There are several other requirements to qualify for SSD benefits, one being that the condition places you on disability for at least one year. 

What If My Disability Benefits Are Too Low To Afford My Child Support Payments?

No matter how significant and from what source, a change in income will not automatically affect your child support obligation. If your monthly Social Security Disability Insurance payments are considerably lower than your pre-disability income, you’ll still have to pay the same child support payments. The only way to lower your court-ordered support requirement is to petition the court for a modification. The court will set a hearing date where you can provide evidence of your lower income and how continuing to pay your current level of child support is impractical.

Will My Child Support Arrears Change When Collecting SSDI?

No. Whatever back child support you owed before your change in income, even when collecting disability, will not decrease or increase. Even if your future child support payments decrease, the amount of past-due child support will not. 

Can My Disability Payments Be Garnished To Cover My Child Support?

Depending on the disability your collecting and if you owe any back child support, your income may be garnished. If you owe no back child support, then you probably don’t need to worry about the government garnishing your disability in the near future. If you owe arrearages, but you’re only collecting SSI, then it’s unlikely your payments will be garnished because SSI is only meant to cover necessary living expenses. But, if you’re collecting SSDI, which can be considerably more than SSI, your payments may be garnished to cover past-due child support.

What If My Child Receives Disability Dependency Payments?

When a parent receives disability benefits, the rest of the family may qualify for auxiliary benefits. The auxiliary benefits are extra funds in addition to the parent’s normal disability benefits. Whether a child receives funds from SSI or SSDI has no bearing on the noncustodial’s child support payments. Any money your dependents receive is separate from what you owe in monthly child support payments and arrearages. 

Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Each individual's legal needs are unique, and these materials may not be applicable to your legal situation. Always seek the advice of a competent attorney with any questions you may have regarding a legal issue. Do not disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.


Get my FREE E-Book

Similar Articles

Learn about Law