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Auxiliary Benefits and Child Support

Do Social Security disability auxiliary benefits count as child support? Can my benefits be garnished?

Disability benefits through the Social Security administration often provide additional support for the family members or dependents of people with disabilities. These resources are invaluable in a family's time of need.

These dependent or auxiliary benefits, in combination with the monthly payments you receive from disability, allow you and your family to cover everyday needs and bigger expenditures when disability prevents you from working and earning a gainful living.

If you have a child and owe child support, you may be wondering if you will need to use your disability benefits to cover these expenses.

Child Support and Social Security Disability Benefits

Do my auxiliary benefits need to go toward child support?

Social Security disability is a federal program, and can include Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and auxiliary benefits. In some states though, disability benefits paid through the SSI program are coordinated between federal and state agencies, giving state level authority for the qualification and administration of SSI.

Child support, on the other hand, is ordered by a state level court and Child Services (also a state agency), monitors and enforces child support payments. In other words, Child support rules and regulations vary by state.

In some states, auxiliary benefits may affect child support. In others, these benefits are excluded when calculating the gross income of both parents and would therefore have no affect on child support orders.

Even when auxiliary benefits are excluded however, Child Services or the judge that orders child support, will likely review information about disability and auxiliary benefits. This review may include benefits each parent receives as well as auxiliary benefits paid directly to the child due to one or both parents being disability recipients.

How Auxiliary Benefits Affects Child Support and Vice Versa

With income-based benefits, like SSI, most states exclude these from child support considerations. With SSDI benefits however, some states do consider these and any auxiliary benefits associated with them.

If not excluded by state law, then any amount of auxiliary benefits a parent or child receives can reduce the amount of the non-custodial parent’s monthly child support obligation. In other words, auxiliary benefits cover some of a child’s ongoing needs. Child support necessary to meet a child’s needs may be lessened as a result. This in turn may mean that the monthly child support the non-custodial parent is required to pay may be reduced as well.

How Your Own Disability Affects Child Support and Vise Versa

If you’ve been ordered to pay child support and become disabled yourself, then you’ll begin receiving SSI and/or SSDI rather than or in addition to auxiliary benefits. If you get SSDI and/or SSI, your child support obligations do not end. In most jurisdictions, SSI is excluded from child support calculations, but income from SSDI is not. So, if you receive SSDI benefits, these can be garnished for any child support arrears you owe or current child support payments.

Understanding Disability and Child Support in Your Home Jurisdiction

Disability benefits may be less than your prior income from employment. In cases like this, it can be difficult to meet your own needs and also keep up with child support. If necessary, you can petition the court for child support adjustments, based on your new financial situation. A Social Security disability attorney or advocate can help you understand the rules and regulations governing auxiliary benefits, disability through SSI and/or SSDI, and child support in your local area.