Social Security Disability and Child Support

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The Federal Government, through the US Department of Health and Human Services, issued a new rule to make state child support enforcement programs more effective. In the new rule, the federal government set forth standards for each state to implement regarding collection and enforcement of child support. The first stages of the rule will become effective January 20, 2017.

For Social Security purposes, the new rules provide some benefit to recipients who receive both Social Security Disability Insurance Benefit (DIB) and Supplement Security Income (SSI). The new rule clarifies that if you receive any SSI benefit in addition to the DIB, neither the SSI nor the DIB benefit are able to be garnished for child support purposes. After verifying that you receive SSI, the state may close the child support obligation. Also, the new rule requires that states return any wrongfully garnished money to the SSI recipient within 5 business days.

Even if you do not receive SSI but only collect DIB, the new rule may help reduce liens against your DIB caused by owed child support payments. Each state must now base child support obligations on current, accurate information about your ability to pay. This means, that if you were previously working, but became disabled, the change in income must be considered in determining the child support obligations. The new rules specifically include eligibility for Social Security Disability as a way to effectively show the state that you are incapacitated from meaningful employment. Because the states are now required to inquire into the facts of a person’s ability to pay child support obligations, recent applications and awards for disability benefits should be provided to state agencies. The state agencies will use the information to create appropriate obligations based upon the limited income received.