August 20, 2017

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.

Auxiliary Benefit Offset Rules Vary From State to State

social security dependents' benefitsMy colleague, Colorado Social Security disability lawyer Tomasz Stasiuk recently published an article on his blog entitled “Do Social Security Auxiliary Benefits Reduce Child Support?”  The post on Tomasz’ blog was actually written by attorney Yolanda Fennick, who practices family law in Colorado Springs.

Yolanda’s article sets out what Colorado courts are supposed to do – if a non-custodial parent qualifies for SSDI and his children begin receiving monthly auxiliary benefits, these auxiliary benefits will usually reduce the non-custodial parent’s child support obligations dollar for dollar.

I suspect that Colorado’s approach is similar to what you would find in other states, but when it comes to child support payments, do not assume anything.  Further, until the obligations of the parties are put into writing by a judge and issued as an order, no other agreement or assumption matters.

The rules may be different in SSI cases, if the custodial parent is the one receiving SSDI, or if the child himself is receiving SSI.  A good family lawyer can explain the law to you.  As difficult as it may be to come up with the money to hire a lawyer, I think that both  payers and recipients of child support would be very wise to have counsel when appearing in court. [Read more…]

Interview with Family Lawyer Monica Hanrahan Freitag – Part 2

In this second installment of my interview with Monica Hanrahan Freitag, we discuss auxiliary benefits and how family law judges deal with lump sum disability payments.

Interview with Family Lawyer Monica Hanrahan Freitag – Part 1

This is part 1 of my interview with Monica Hanrahan Freitag, a domestic relations lawyer at the law firm of Hanrahan Freitag Family Law.  In part 1, Monica and I discuss how family law judges approach child support calculations and the special problems that arise when one or both parents are disabled.    How are child support payments adjusted?  How is the long delay in Social Security adjudication addressed?

Here are some of the links discussed in this interview:

Hanrahan Freitag Family Law firm site

Fulton County, Georgia Family Court forms

Pro se Family Law forms – courtesy of attorney Steve Worrall