Although Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability payments cannot be garnished for child support, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) payments can be garnished to fulfill child support obligations. Child support payments are a constant in many parents’ lives, regardless of health or finances. Parents who owe back child support often find their wages garnished or their property seized.

In times of growing economic uncertainty, many people are concerned whether their Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are subject to garnishment for unpaid child support. Parents seeking money for child support, likewise, may only be able to obtain this money from the other parent’s benefits.

Some Social Security benefits are frequently garnished or seized to pay debt. Not all benefits can be garnished, however.

Which Social Security Benefits Can Be Garnished?

The SSA doesn’t only offer retirement benefits. Supplemental Security Income and Social Security Disability Insurance benefits are two other common forms of financial aid. Some Social Security benefits are protected from nearly any form of garnishment or seizure.

  • Supplemental Security Income-This federal money is a safeguard against poverty, and cannot be garnished by creditors or for child support. alimony, or other debt.
  • Social Security Disability Insurance-Money given to the injured and out of work can be garnished or even seized entirely to pay back child support. An individual’s SSDI is based on his or her work history and is funded by employment taxes. SSDI is unlikely to be garnished for other forms of debt, like a credit card.

Most people receive monthly SSDI payments, but benefits can be distributed in other ways. SSDI lump sums and back payments can also be garnished for child support, though they usually won’t be seized in full.

Inflexible Child Support Obligations

Court-mandated child support payments are not, automatically, affected by an individual’s physical health, or his or her employment status. A person’s payments will not change, in frequency or amount, unless the parent petitions the court.

A petition to the court cannot change the amount of back child support that is owed. Payments can only be lowered going forward. Injury, illness, and unemployment are relatively simple to prove to the court, but many choose to have an attorney get them the best arrangement possible.

Do a Child’s Dependent Benefits Pay Child Support?

Many who file for Social Security benefits receive auxiliary benefits for children or dependents. While children are often eligible to receive this money, these benefits do not go toward any owed child support. This is a common misconception, often leading to non-payment.

Paying Child Support While On Disability

Benefits aren’t the same as a salary. Many people on disability fall behind on making child support payments. In 2021, for example, SSI will pay no more than $794 per person, while SSDI will pay an average of $1,250. This doesn’t leave much extra, especially when SSDI is a person’s primary income source.

Talking Things Through With the Other Parent

Parents going through difficult financial straits might benefit from having their child support order modified. Ideally, parents could discuss matters between themselves and come to an arrangement. In cases where parents cannot agree, the matter usually must be resolved in court.

Petitioning the Court

To have child support modified, a parent must plead his or her case to the court system, usually in the state where the child resides. He or she needs to show proof that his or her illness or injury has caused financial strain. The judge will decide whether to alter the payments.

Applying for Dependent Benefits

A parent with SSDI benefits might be entitled to obtain benefits for his or her child. This money can go a long way toward easing the burden of back child support payments while living on the tight budget of disability benefits.

Seeking Legal Help

An attorney can walk parents through their rights, obligations, and options regarding their child support payments. The right legal assistance can take the stress and uncertainty out of a child support case.