Here’s what you need to know about whether you need to pay child support for a child receiving Social Security benefits such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).
Child Support Payments and the SSI Program
For children who receive both child support and SSI, the SSA will reduce children’s SSI benefits by two-thirds of the monthly child support payments. This is because the Social Security Administration counts two-thirds of the child’s child support payments as income when calculating benefits, and excludes the remaining one-third.
In many cases, a parent may be paying lifetime child support for children who are blind or disabled. The SSA would consider the entire child support that an adult child is receiving as income, which would further reduce their SSI benefits.
If you have a disabled adult child that received life-long child support payments, the calculation differs. In this instance, the SSA considers the total amount of child support payments as income, not two-thirds.
Ultimately, this means that the eligibility of your children for SSI would not reduce your obligations on its own. It would simply reduce the SSI benefit they receive.
In some cases, children may be receiving more child support than the income guidelines stated by the SSA. This would cause your children to lose their SSI benefit as they are no longer eligible.
Paying Child Support If You Are On SSI
Texas law does not consider SSI as income. Therefore, a parent will not have the obligation to pay monthly child support payments if they are receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and it is their sole source of income.
Obtain a statement from the Social Security Administration stating that you receive Social Security benefits. If you were ordered to pay monthly child support payments prior to receiving SSI, your attorney could file a modification case to reduce your future child support obligations.
If you are receiving SSI payments, the authorities cannot garnish an SSI payment for any child support payment. Keep in mind that even if you are disabled and receive Social Security disability benefits, you are still responsible for any child support obligations as ordered by the courts.
What is Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?
Supplemental Security Income or SSI is a federal program directed by the Social Security Administration that provides monthly cash payments to blind or disabled individuals such as disabled children, or elderly people with low-income.
The eligibility criteria for SSI includes whether your income falls below the income limits of the SSI program. It’s important to note that income does not only include the money made from your job. It will also include the value of certain benefits you receive. For example, if your relative provides you with a free room, that will be counted as income.
No matter which state you live in (including Texas), the basic monthly SSI payments are $794 per person or $1,191 for a married couple. However, the amount you receive for SSI also depends on a person’s resources and income. Income can include:
- Income from providing work or other services
- Receiving payments from Social Security, pension alimony, veteran’s benefits, and child support
- Free-rent or food benefits
- A portion of the income earned by other members of your household
For the purposes of Social Security Income (SSI), resources are classified as anything you own that can be converted into cash. This can include the following:
- Personal property
- Bank accounts
- Stocks and bonds
- Life insurance
Impact of SSDI on Child Support
A child may receive derivative benefits due to a parent’s disability and low income. This means they receive additional income for their living expenses.
If your child receives Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, it will count towards income for the parent. If the SSDI benefits of the children derive from a non-custodial parent, the court will subtract the amount you receive from SSDI from the child support obligation.
It’s possible to receive SSDI and child support at the same time. However, a valid child support order from a legal separation can impact the total amount of benefits a child may be eligible for.
What is Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)?
Social Security Disability Insurance or SSDI is a federal program that offers monthly cash benefits to disabled families and individuals who have a history of working.
To be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), you must have been employed by a job that is covered by Social Security for at least ten years. In addition, you must fall under their definition of disability. The individual must have a condition that severely affects their ability to perform work-related activities. Work-related activities include walking, lifting, standing, or sitting. Generally, most people fall into the criteria if they cannot work for a year or more.
It’s important to note that an SSDI payment can be garnished to fulfill any outstanding monthly child support obligation.
Child Benefits Due To SSDI
For parents who receive SSDI benefits, your children may also be eligible for Social Security dependents benefits. If you receive approval for SSDI, you can apply for dependent child benefits. These can be credited towards your child’s support obligations. For example, you have to pay $600 per month for child support, and you are receiving $250 for your child’s dependent benefits. You would only be responsible for the $550 gap.
If you had accrued debt from child support after becoming disabled, dependent child benefits may also cover these arrearages.
Do I Have to Pay Child Support if My Child Gets SSI or SSDI?
SSI benefits received by disabled children are intended to supplement their income and are not a substitute. Receiving SSI or SSDI from the Social Security Administration does not impact a non-custodial parent’s obligation to pay child support.
Modifying Child Support Through The Courts
The state law governs child support, but federal authorities can also enforce child support. If there are changes to your child’s Social Security benefits and you would like to change the amount of child support you are ordered to pay as a non-custodial parent, you’ll have to go through a court procedure to file a modification case. If you have reduced income due to disability, you can also ask for a court hearing so you can make the case to reduce your child support payments.
Contact Us For A No-Cost Case Review
Need help understanding your child support obligations as a non-custodial parent when your children are receiving SSI or SSDI? Engage the services of the award-winning Family Law attorneys at Sean Lynch + Associates. We have decades of experience in family law and are knowledgeable in SSI and child support.
Contact Sean Lynch + Associates Law Firm today for a no-cost case review.