June 16, 2019

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…]

Do Auxiliary Benefits Offset Child Support Obligations?

Social Security law provides that dependent children may claim “auxiliary benefits” when a disabled non-custodial parent becomes eligible for SSDI benefits.   Do these dependents’ benefits serve to offset a non-custodial parent’s child support obligations?

It appears that the answer to this question depends on laws of the State that issued the support order.

child supportIn Illinois, for example, there is case law which provides that auxiliary benefits do offset child support obligations.  According to a March, 2006 article in the DuPage County Bar Association Newsletter, Illinois Social Security disability attorney Harold Conick wrote:

Courts across the nation have struggled with the concept of whether or not child benefits payable under the Social Security disability programs should be credited against the support obligation of a disabled obligor parent. Illinois follows the majority view on the issue that Social Security benefits paid on behalf of the non custodial parent satisfy the parent’s child support obligation for the period that such benefits are received. Marriage of Henry,156 Ill2d 541, 622 N.E.2d 803(1993)

In Henry, the obligor petitioned the trial court for modification of his child support obligation. The Illinois Supreme Court stated that the clear intent of the Illinois legislature is set forth in 750 ILCS 5/510. Any judgment respecting maintenance or support is to be modified only to installments accruing subsequent to due notice by the moving party.  However, the Henry court held that Social Security dependent disability benefits paid on behalf of an obligor, satisfied such parents child support obligation. The court came to this conclusion after analyzing both the minority and majority view of several state courts opinions on this issue. The prevailing logic on the matter is that since Social Security disability benefits are earned, and are based upon the earnings record of the primary beneficiary, such benefits should be regarded as income. Flemming v. Nestor.   The court analogized income from Social Security child benefits as identical to income derived from employment by the non custodial parent. The court, cited the rationale of Jamizez v. Weinberger , “Social Security death benefits represent money earned and contributed through the efforts of a working parent… which payments, like the proceeds of an insurance policy, substitute as income to the worker’s family should he . . . become disabled.” The Henry court further relied on authority that held that Social Security dependent disability benefits replace support the child loses upon the disability of the parent wage earner, responsible for the child’s support. Tossie v. Califano. [Read more…]