January 22, 2019

Working Ex-Spouse Wants SSDI Offset

Questions about offsets continue to fill my inbox.   This one from Dina asks about a common area of confusion:

Dear Mr. Ginsberg,

I receive SSDI and my son (5 y/o) receives an SSDI auxillary payment.  His dad wants to reduce the child support he pays to me dollar for dollar based on the SSDI auxillary monies my son gets every month.

I think I understood from your post on April 2009, that the SSDI Auxillary payments to my son does not offset any child support that I receive from the dad.  Did I understand this correctly?

Can you direct me to information that I can provide to my son’s dad’s lawyer that shows him he cannot reduce the dad’s child support to me dollar for dollar based on my son’s auxillary award?

Thank you – you provide an invaluable free service – thank you!

My response: First, I think that the rules on offset depend to a great degree upon the jurisdiction where the support order was issued.  Rules about offsets are state law questions and every state has different rules.

ssdi offset questionsSecondly, I believe that the offset would only be applicable if your ex-husband was the one receiving SSDI.   The logic of permitting an offset arises from the nature of SSDI benefits.   SSDI payments arise from tax contributions that one makes when one is working.   In other words, if your ex-husband was the one receiving SSDI, auxiliary SSDI benefits would serve as a substitute for his earning power.

Here, you are the one receiving SSDI based on your work.   Your SSDI (partially) replaces your income and your earning power.  Why should your ex-husband get the benefit from your contributions into the Social Security system?