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In this article, we discuss how collecting disability benefits affects child support obligations and answer the following questions: am I still responsible for paying child support while collecting SSDI?, what if my disability benefits are too low to afford my child support payments?, will my child support arrears change when collecting SSDI?, can my disability payments be garnished to cover child support?, and what if my child receives disability dependency payments?


In this article, we discuss how collecting disability benefits affects child support obligations and answer the following questions:


  • Am I still responsible for paying child support while collecting SSDI?
  • What if my disability benefits are too low to afford my child support payments?
  • Will my child support arrears change when collecting SSDI?
  • Can my disability payments be garnished to cover child support?
  • What if my child receives disability dependency payments?


When a parent under court order to pay child support has a significant change in income, such as losing a job or becoming disabled, questions arise as to how child support will continue. If the noncustodial parent no longer generates an income but retains funds from a state or government-funded disability program, are those funds subject to child support obligations? This is just one of many questions that arise for those starting on disability.


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. 


Posted 
December 17, 2020
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