MY SPOUSE/FORMER SPOUSE RECEIVES SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS. WILL THAT EFFECT MY CHILD SUPPORT PAYMENTS?
The Child Support Guidelines implemented on January 1, 2009, determine child support obligations. If either or both parents receive social security benefits, these benefits are included in his/her gross income.
It is important to know whether an individual receives Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). These programs differ in many ways, including payments made to dependent children, and the time period during which benefits may be received.
SSDI income is similar to an insurance program, in which a wage earner has worked and paid into the Social Security Trust Fund for a period of time. When an individual becomes disabled, he/she is entitled to monthly payments that may be retroactive back to twelve (12) months from the date of application. The child(ren)'s entitlement to the payments come from the parent, representing that parent's past contributions.
SSI benefits differ, as it is a federal income supplement program that is funded by general tax revenue and not social security taxes. Eligibility for SSI benefits is not related to past earnings, but to help disabled individuals meet their basic needs. There is no waiting period for benefits under SSI. SSI benefits are retroactive only to the first day of the month of the application.
Individuals receiving Social Security retirement or disability income benefits are entitled to receive a dollar-for-dollar credit against his/her child support obligation for such dependency benefits paid directly to the child(ren) or to the custodial parent on their behalf. However, if a child receives SSI benefits directly based on his/her own disability, and not as a result of a parent's need, such benefits are treated differently in determining child support obligations. These monies should not be credited against a parent's child support obligation. The child's own SSI benefits should be utilized for that child's benefits alone.