July 24, 2014

Can Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits be Garnished to Pay Past Due Child Support?

Can a custodial parent who is owed past due child support turn to Social Security to collect that child support from a disability recipient?   Yes, according to Social Security Ruling 79-4, the Social Security Administration can withhold a percentage of a claimant’s benefits in an amount equal to what SSA could withhold to pay delinquent income tax debt.

lost wagesNo interest or penalties may be withheld, and before the first withholding may commence, SSA must give the claimant 60 days notice.

The rules appear to be different when the disability benefits in question are SSI (supplemental security income) benefits.    The web site esocialsecurityappeal.com states that a “custodial parent has no right to any of the proceeds from SSI.”    Tim Moore, the editor of DisabilitySecrets.com also states that SSI recipients will not have their monthly disability benefits and past due benefits seize.  According to Mr. Moore, the rationale to protect SSI from levy relates to the nature of SSI as a welfare benefit:  “since SSI is essentially a public welfare benefit and does not derive  not from a claimant’s earnings record, SSI benefits cannot be taken for other purposes, just as food stamps and AFDC funds, likewise, cannot be seized.”



About

Jonathan Ginsberg practices Social Security disability law in Atlanta, Georgia.  He represents clients in claims before the Social Security Administration.

Comments

  1. Tammy Ferrari says:

    I think this ssi/child support rule is ridiculous. My grandbaby receives no child support, due to the fact that her mentally ill father receives ssi. Instead, my husband and I are helping to support her. I understand the comparison to afdc/foodstamps, but still, many people who cannot afford their child support are still forced to find a way to pay. People on ssi should not be allowed to have children, then, if they do not intend to support them until they are 18.

  2. While I agree that folks unable to pay for their children should not be making them…that is a two sided responsibility. If mom knows dad is disabled and unable to work..or just plain knows he’s irresponsible then mom should take the initiative to be sure a child is not brought into the mix! I work in this stuff, I’m tired of the attitude that the non-custodial parent should be impoverished to the point that they must live in box under a bridge to pay child support…both parents had a part in the birth of the child…mom/dad knows very well how responsible the other parent is likely to be… As for grandparents paying for the grandbaby…well you know grandma/grandpa you made that choice, perhaps if mommy didn’t think she had you for a safety net she would have thought twice about having a baby. In many states support is so high that the non-custodial parent is allowed nothing for themselves to live on..so then we have custody battles based not on the best interests of the child but the best interests of the wallet. After 18 years in this stuff I believe that you should have to have a license to make a child just as you have to have one to drive, be a dentist, be a lawyer or lots of other professions requiring personal responsibility…………. Parents disabled after the fact don’t choose to be injured and should not have everything taken from them.

  3. James Carey says:

    Not all people recieving SSI have not worked.

    Your assumption is that all children of parents recieving SSI were born at a time the individual was not employed. This is not true, many parents become disabled before the have paid in enough in Social Security tax to draw Social Security Disablity. At the time the child was born, the could afford them. Your logic is simular to the logic that all failed mortgages were ‘bad’ mortages because the the person could not afford the house. It does not allow for the possiblity of job loss.

    Individuals receiving SSI (Supplemental Security Income) have not paid enough in Social Security tax before becoming disabled in order to recieve SSDI (Social Security Disablity Income). The amount a person on SSDI gets per month is based on how many how much Social Security taxes they paid before becoming disabled. Unlike SSDI, SSI is ‘needs’ based. Except for a home, those are not allowed to have much in the way of resources. They will have to exhaust them in order to recieve SSI. Also, unlike SSDI which recgonizes partial disablities, a person recieving SSI must be 100 percent perminately and totally disabled.

    Make no mistake about it, people recieving SSI (and many on SSDI) are trying to survive on an income that is below the Federal Poverity guidelines. The amount of monthly payment an individual for the year 2010 is $674. That is a total of $8088 a year. A person is considered to be living below 100 percent of the Federal Poverity level if their annual income is less than $10,831 per year. The difference is $2743 a year. Have you tried living on $674 a month in today’s economy?

    You’ve missed the whole point here. It’s not that these people don’t intend to support their children, they can’t support their children!

    Did your daughter’s have no part in the child’s conception? Was she unaware of the father’s condition at the time or did it happen before he become disabled. If the later, in what crystal ball was he supposed to look and know what would happen to him? In the end, she is the only one who could make the choice to have the child. Regardless of what the situation was, unless she was incapable of making the decision for herself, the father had no say in the matter!

    But, what really bothers me is that you seem to be suggesting we sterilize people who are living in poverity and can’t afford to have children. If so, that would be everyone on SSI, most on SSDI, everyone on foodstamps and or unemployment benefits, and just about every college and techincal school student in the country. We mustn’t forget most of the people getting Social Security Retirement benefits or a lot of single parents and a many poor parents!

    Did you know that in 2007, 37 million people or 12.6 percent of Americans were living in poverity in this nation and that in 2008 the number rose to 39.8 million or 13.2 percent? That’s about 1 in 7. The figure for this year are expected to be even higher due to the rise in unemployment.

    One last thing, again using your logic, your daughter should not have allowed to become pregnant because she couldn’t afford to have a child either. Remember, the courts have determined that unless the mother is incompacitated, the father has no say as to whether or not the child is born. The decision as to carry to term was legally hers alone!

  4. My soon to be ex-husband has not been disabled since we have been married… in Feb 08 he had attempted suicide and has anoxic brain damage, while he was in coma i found out i was pregnant. Now my husband refuses paternity and is very delusional. But anyways my comment is: I went to get a mediation with FOC and they said that he only has to pay 27.88 a MONTH in childsupport when his income from SSI is 672 a month and i am working at a daycare part time for minimum wage i have been looking for a job like crazy but havent been lucky. So my average weekly paycheck is only around 150.00 making my monthy income 600.00 which is less than his income. My husband has no interest in being a part of my sons life and could care less if he has anything… What i dont understand is how they let him get away with 27.88 a month because all these divorce calculators of amounts non-custiodal parent should be paying in childsupport say its 10% of income which would be 67.00 a month. My main issue is that i know for a fact that the place he lives he does not pay a dime to live there and he doesnt have any bills that he pays monthly, and i know i sound like a emotional ex but he spends every dime of his ssi check on drugs.. And to top it off he did all this to himself its not like he got in a car accident? I don’t get why they wouldn’t make him pay more considering everything and the fact that he makes more than i do on ssi? I filed all my divorce papers myself and am representing myself and im not sure if i can do anything or say anything that may pursued the judge to see things for what they truely are in this case?…I called the legal aid hotline and its always busy so i cant get anybody and my divorce is scheduled soon so i gotta turn in this paperwork i just don’t know if its worth my time to try to get 67.00 for my monthly payment instead of 27.88 because i heard they wont make someone on ssi pay more than that a month. WHICH IS BS.

  5. BUT WHAT IS MOM CHOOSES NOT TO WORK AND FILES JUST SO SHE DOESNT HAVE TO PAY DAD THE CUSTODIAL PARENT CHILD SUPPORT THAT IS THE SITUATION WE ARE IN..

  6. hey i just got approved of SSI and my daughter mother has taken her out of state- which she wasnt allowed to– now she gotta play by my rules now– i owe back support and if she wants money she will bring her back to ohio where she belongs

  7. Gina Clancy says:

    @James Carey: so my ssi cannot be took from me or my bank levied for child support especially when it only started out to be $1000.00 and now due to interest it is $8000.00 which is screwed up

  8. I am a grandparent raising a grandchild due to both parent having problems, along with …ha ving more and more kids…..i am very upset at the system itself……put these idiots that say they cant work, TO WORK….in the state of Illinois, there are places such as Bridgeway inc. and many other places for these losers to make a little money to help support their offspring they so seem NOT to care about, only their own gain, or their drug of choice, do these states not know that THEY are enablers?…..give them a check every month, half of them hang out in bars until its gone, the others are looking for their choice of dope, selling their foodstamps to their own parents ! I know of several cases of this going on, how long are WE THE WORKING PEOPLE going to have to continue to scrape the bottom of the barrel to raise these children while ol’ mom and dad are happy doing dope ect. and drawing an SSI check which enables them to do so?? Dont get me wrong I love my grandchild with all my heart, and have faught and won for his rights and have put him in my home, a safe happy enviroment, to give him a good education and life, why not put these type of ppl to work?…they all arent incapable of working…this childs mother is known as a crackhead, and the state of Illinois is nothing more than an enabler….STOP the madness, stop the checks!!

  9. @Tammy Ferrari: TRY THIS ONE ON FOR SIZE. I HAVE NEVER HAD TO PUT MY KIDS DADDY ON CHILD SUPPORT BECAUSE HE HELPED TO SUPPORT HIS KIDS, WELL GUESS WHAT HE HAS HAD 4 STROKES AND NOW HE IS TOTALY DISABLE ON ONE SIDE BUT SOME ONE WENT AND HELP SIGN HIM UP FOR SSI ONLY AND HE HAS A LONG WORK HISTORY PLUS 19 YRS IN THE MILITARY. MY KIDS DO NOT QUALIFY FOR BENEFITS UNDER THAT PROGRAM. I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHERE TO START AT FOR HELP CAUSE I COULD ALWAYS DEPEND ON THEIR FATHER FOR HELP. DOES ANYONE KNOW WHAT IT IS THAT I CAN DO? BY THE WAY HE TOOK A EARLY BUYOUT FROM THE MILITARY.

  10. i don’t get this i had a back income tax they said i owed an did take a piece of one of my ssdi checks to pay it back when i called them they agreed that my expenses exceded my income an put me on a hardship status so they couldn’t take any more of my checks.
    now comes the child support who is taking 25% of my check an i cant even get a hearing for 6 months from now.
    i am on ssdi an i thought they can only take equal to what the ssa could take for delinguate tax debt which is nothing because of the hardship status so how are they getting by with this.
    also can anyone tell me just what if anything they take into fact at a hearing such as housing costs or medical needs.

  11. opps i should of added that its back child support for grown children 25 an 27 yrs old now an that she has necer given me my visitation rights , a phone number or an address where my children were living .

  12. My son was injured in a car accident and is currently disabled with a brain injury. He is getting the personal allowance of $30.00 a month until the other part of SS kicks in. He got a letter today showing that the total $30.00 he was getting will be withheld for back child support leaving him NOTHING. He was paying child support up until the accident. What I don’t understand is how they can do that?

  13. i hear ya.. my husband got custody of his son almost two yrs ago and mom was trying to get disability pretty much around the time we were going to court.. of course she got it and even though the judge issued a child support order we have no way to enforce it so she gets off scott free… of course that doesnt make her a piece of crap but when my husband was the one paying the child support let him miss one payment… she has never worked a day in her life and there is nothing wrong with her.. nothing but pure LAZINESS.. thats it… and shes a drunk and some other not so nice things.. and hey she gets away with it… does it occur to u people that like to go off on the parents that are actually trying to take care of the kids and do right by them that the other parent the one that owes the support is on disablitiy just so they do not have to deal with there obligations… its an easy scape goat for them

  14. cathy kraemer says:

    when collecting social security disability. Do my children that are living with my ex-wife receive monies. Do these monies come from the monthly check, or a seperate fund from the disability.

    thank you

  15. @James Carey: how very true u are my son is going threw the same with his babys moms he has had problems all his life and is on ssi .he has been jailed in prison for non support over and over and is in jail again for back support but doesent get enought on ssi to pay support.he has mental problems and they keep putting him in jail over back support its crap.most of his adult life has been in prison.why dont they understand he has mental problems they no he is on ssi but dont care. he hates being the way he is ,and the babys mommas knew he had problems just makes me sick

  16. howard friedman says:

    please let me know what is the max percentage garnished from SSD for back child support? Is it 15 percent as it is for the IRS? Thank you

  17. So what about a young man who has always been disabled and draws ssd from his deceased fathers ss as an adult child with disabilities and he also draws a little on his own ss.
    He has a very smart lady friend w/physical disabilities that decided she wanted to have a baby and picked him for sperm…knowing all along he didnt have the mental capacity to comprehend the long term consequences. He has never been able to keep a job because of his disability. Now he is a father and she is expecting him to care for her needs along with a baby’s needs…phsycial and financial. Thankfully I am his rep. payee and he can’t give her money unless he goes thur me. The baby gets a whoppin $29 ss off his ssdi. I see to it he buys the taxable necessities for the baby, while she has food stamps and wic to buy non taxables. And I am letting them stay with me so that I can help them. I’m not sure how this is going to work out. But I’m wondering if she takes the baby and wants him to give her money, what would he be expected to pay in child support?

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