January 24, 2020

Social Security’s Move to Paperless Payments Will Likely Impact Child Support Collection

Social Security recipients who owe child support will soon find that their entire benefit check may be seized by state governments looking to collect past due amount.  The Associated Press reports that in March of 2013, SSA will phase out paper checks in favor of electronic payments in the form of direct deposits and prepaid debit cards.

Currently federal law prevents state governments from seizing more than 65% of a Social Security benefit.  When paper checks are eliminated the entire deposit will be susceptible to seizure.

In many cases the past due payments represent interest and fees and are owed to state governments who claim the funds after paying welfare benefits to the children of non-custodial parents who did not pay child support.

Should non-custodial parents be subject to 100% seizure of their Social Security benefit payments in every case.  Should a distinction be drawn between debt that relates to current child support as opposed to old support obligations.  Should SSI payments remain exempt from any garnishment?

It will be interesting to see how this shakes out.


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


  1. tracy hohe says

    Can you help? My husband receives SSD. He has two children of past relationship and an open child support case in California. SSD was being paid. This past year SSD got checks returned due to mother moving and not given forwarding address. The same goes for the DA child support.

    Now my husband has no license due to this issue.

    Can child support order over and above what SSI pays. Also, Child Support states they will close the case if he can prove SSD was paid. We have asked and asked for proof from SSD to show benefit amount paid to date and a letter stating mother will not contact them.

    We need to get this matter resolved it has ruined our credit and our lives to the point we cant buy a home, we can buy anything and NOW my husband has no license and will eventually be looking at jail?

  2. What type of document could be prepared now, notary signed by both divorced parents, filed at both the Colorado Court where they divorced and registered now with social security retirement income, that states when the father applies for benefits, he agree now in advance to have his current child support payments sent directly to the mother and some portion of his arrears be taken out without court action? Like an automatic lien and garnishment built into one with the father signing it. Then when the father finishes the current child support at the child will turn 19 two years after he starts receiving his benefits that the amount goes up to a much higher amount for the back child support and alimony due. What type of document can be created and filed? Thanks, Francesca

  3. My ex husband owes me $105.588.48 in back child support. He lives in Arizona, he is a dead beat, has been on the run to avoid paying child support. My 2 children are grown and now he is 63 and i went to court in NY and the Judge orderd a garnish of his social security. So for this month of March I am still waiting to recieve payment.

  4. Sean Valdez says

    I have one question,In my case i was orderd to pay 300 in child support.Then I had to go on SSDI and the court order for child support continues.How could this be if my children were still being taken care of when they started to recive my benifits?

  5. Rico Gramazio says

    The 13th of April my bank account was seized by the Massachusetts DOR without any forewarning.I have been making payments for 16 yrs and am on SSDI through no fault of my own( auto accident in 1995 hit by 3 vehicles) . Any monies I had in the account have been taken and now placed my account in the red,therefore creating overdraft fees on top of it all at $35.00 each attempted transaction. This is not right! I will…..become homeless,loose continuing medical treatment,loose my link to the outside world-phone,dis-enroll from college.This is an outrage. Any lawyers/advocates that see this PLEASE contact me. 802-380-7526

  6. Rico Gramazio says

    Added info…..They are seizing my complete allotment,and have involved Bank of America,which eventually will take me to Court if not resolved….This is a direct attack on the disabled …..

  7. that will be great. My husbands exwife filled for disablity she tells us if she gets it we will not see a dime from her. I think that is a good idea We support out 5 kids on our own and she pays nothing in child support

  8. dead beat says

    @Ann: Move on with your life and quit being a money grubbin bitch.

  9. Jennifer Poirier says

    I don’t feel they should take over half of social security benefits from anyone, they need that for surgeries or what have you that is why they are disabled. I find it inhumane to take away someone’s benefits if they are using them for recovery. My ex-husband and I filed Jointly, that is suppose to mean one pays a certain portion and the other pays the same. When one goes on welfare becasue they cannot pull their other half, it should not be left for the other parent to clean up. Divorce means no longer with, and it should stay that way. I do believe that their should be warnings to social security payments and that they can be affected, but everyone’s situation is different and it should be accounted as so, or given time to get back on their feet. I never understood the arreage part of it neither, if the courts say that is how much is owed then welfare should stick to the balance. By time most become disabled their children are grown and should not be a reason to give the ex-spouse to claim as spousal support when it is owed to the state.

  10. Jennifer Poirier says

    @Sean Valdez:
    You really have to be careful when it comes to them taking your stuff, we just had someone go behind the scenes and try to garnish for an old bill and was already in proceses before we got a chance to explain within our twenty days. They are already taking out more than what they said would happen, and their is no current support order. Tell me how they can prove a balance by sending something to prosecuting attorney’s and it go straight to soical security before it is evaluated to be true. Now we are being garnished and it will have to go in front of a federal judge to what they did and they have no proof of support even though they got away with it. Now they are taking out twice for two cases that there is only one support. How does that happen. We only have one account number and they are taking out for two different ones. Something is illigal here and we are going to get to the bottom of it. They got away with collecting behind the proper procedures of the laws, so you always watch your stuff. You can also get that lowered at times if you explain any problems.

  11. Jennifer Poirier says

    You know it is ok to garnish if it is owed, and then that depends if you were on welfare collecting as support payments and the state is owed. I think there is something that is needed to be done, but try not to wash him dry if he needs surgeries or such, this is his only means of getting them to get back on his feet.. If you had a court order for support than it is clearly showed that he owes it to you. We on the other hand have no order to pay support, they have been knocked out of court twice, and our trying a third time but got someone behind the scenes to approve it before it can appear before a judge. I think that is illigal and plan on pursuing it to the max. they show no proof of a balance other than writing it down on paper and giving it to someone, because there is no order. That makes the difference for collecting.

  12. Hi!

    A friend who asked for help is going through the following: He was approved for SSD in January and was arrears in child support. SS took most of the retro payments and they were given to his daughter which he was relieved about. However, he was supposed to recieve the remainder of about 2,000. He hasn’t. SS states that child support was not paid and it’s child support’s fault. Child support accuses SS. Meanwhile, monies consinue to be deducted from his monthly SS check and he’s at a loss as to where/how to get this resolved. His daughter has gone to SS office twice with her birth certificate, and this was in vain. Any suggestions?

  13. Well I can relate to everyone on here. In Feb. 2008 I had a wreck that disabled me but wasn’t told that by a doctor till 2010……tried going back to work which only lasted a few months. Long story short the let back support build up on me from Feb 2008 to May 2012. My order at the time was for 525 a month so do the math. I am now over 30000 behind due to being injured and being under drs orders/fighting disability. I cant get a home loan barely got my drivers license back……now my ssd check is only 716 a month and my ex gets half of it for my new child support order since I had it modified…..my 2 kids don’t even get their own rewards check

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