Can Child Support Be Taken From Disability Benefits?

Every parent has the responsibility to support their child both financially and emotionally. That’s why, in the US, non-custodial parents are required by law to pay child support.

But what if you’re disabled and not working? Can child support be taken from disability benefits?

Well, it depends on the type of benefit you’re receiving. If you’re receiving Supplement Security Income (SSI), then you’re not required to pay child support. But if you’re receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), the SSA can garnish part of your benefits for child support.

You see, the SSA offers two kinds of benefits for disabled people: SSI and SSDI. SSI is for people earning below a certain income threshold. While SSDI is for those who have worked in jobs that pay social security taxes.

To help you understand how child support and disability payments affect each other, we created this quick guide.

Do You Still Have to Pay Child Support If You’re Disabled?

In general, you are required to pay child support as long as you are earning an income. Your medical condition will only impact how much amount you’ll need to pay, not your liability for child support payments.

However, not all money you receive during the course of your disability will count as income for child support. Each state has different guidelines but, in general, this will only include:

  • salaries and wages
  • income from contractual agreements and investment
  • workers compensation
  • unemployment benefits
  • disability insurance benefits
  • prizes and winnings
  • annuities
  • trust or estate income
  • alimony
  • social security benefits (except SSI)

Why is SSI Not Considered Income For Child Support?

As I said, SSI is only granted to people who are disabled and have limited income. Plus, SSI benefits are barely enough to cover one’s living expenses. In 2023, for instance, you can only receive up to $914 per month.

Because of these, the law presumes that those receiving it are on a tight budget. Thus, they cannot afford to support anyone other than themselves. If they’ll pay child support, they won’t have anything left for themselves.

That’s why if you’re receiving SSI, you won’t be forced to pay child support. Even if there’s a court order for child support payments, it cannot be enforced.

Disabled women receiving SSI cannot be forced to pay child support.

How Much Child Support Can Be Taken From Your SSDI?

If you’re receiving SSDI, the SSA can garnish your benefits for child support payments. How much they’ll garnish will depend on the court-ordered amount.

However, if the court-ordered amount is more than your SSDI benefit, you need to petition the courts to modify your child support payments.

As per federal laws, the SSA can also only garnish up to 65% of your benefits. But they can only garnish up to 50% if you are supporting a spouse or child apart from the subject of the court order.

The SSA also only garnishes current and future benefit payments. They do not make retroactive adjustments. As such, any SSDI back payments will not be garnished.

While you can appeal claim denials, the SSA doesn’t allow appeals on garnishments. If you don’t agree with the garnishment, you can instead file an appeal with the court that ordered the child support payments.

Will Child Support Affect Your SSDI Payments?

No, child support will not affect your SSDI payments. Though, if the SSA will garnish part of your benefits for child support, your monthly benefit payments will reduce.

What if the Child is Receiving SSA Benefits?

If your child is already receiving SSA benefits (both SSI and SSDI), the court can also consider it when garnishing your benefits. But you need to petition the court that ordered the child support payment.

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Victor Malca P.A. has over 27 years of litigation experience in Workers Compensation and Social Security Disability lawsuits. His experience and continued success when fighting for his clients puts him among the most trusted workers’ compensation attorney’s in Florida. He specializes in representing injured workers on compensation benefit cases and disabled individuals claiming lost social security disability benefits.

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About The Author

Judy Ponio is a writer and editor for the Victor Malca Law P.A. website and blog. She enjoys helping people in need with questions about social security disability and workers compensation law. She has a passion for helping those in need and the elderly with accurate legal information that can make a positive difference in their lives.