Understanding Social Security Disability

and Child Support

When a person becomes disabled and can no longer work, many changes take place in their life. A big stressor is always financial obligations, and, for parents, this can include child support. Unfortunately, many parents do not know they can change their child support obligation due to reduced income and changed financial circumstances. A considerable indicator, and legally recognized reason, for a change in child support obligation is getting approved for Social Security disability.

There are three very important factors to remember when dealing with Social Security and child support. First, the two Social Security disability programs have different impacts on child support. Second, any change to a child support agreement is governed by state law. Third, you cannot take action if you do not know your rights. 

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) 

Most states do not count SSI as income for child support. There are some exceptions, like Florida and Illinois. This means parents will be eligible for child support modification. Most parents will not have to pay child support due to the limited financial support provided by SSI. If you are already paying child support, you will have to get the agreement modified in court. Another benefit of SSI is that it cannot be garnished to make child support payments.  

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) 

However, SSDI is counted as income for child support. This means child support will likely be reduced but not eliminated. One way to get child support further reduced when receiving SSDI is to make sure your child is receiving auxiliary child benefits. In some states, child benefits are credited toward child support obligations. For example, if child support is $600 per month and the child gets $500 a month in auxiliary benefits, then you would only be responsible for the $100 difference. Child auxiliary benefits may also be used to cover past-due child support. This is important because SSDI benefits can be garnished to satisfy unpaid child support.  

State Law 

Social Security disability approval could remove your child support payments, but you have to return to court to update your child support agreement. The legal system will not know about your change in work or disability status unless you tell them. Each state’s law regarding child support agreements, payments, and modifications is different. If you need to modify your child support agreement, it is always best to speak with a specialized family law attorney who knows the laws of your state. A great place to start is the state bar website or your local legal aid.  

Do not hesitate to modify your child support agreement if you can no longer afford the payments due to job loss and disability. The sooner you make changes, the better.  You can find more information about how to modify a child support agreement here.

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If you have questions, you can always Ask Allison!