October 17, 2019

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.”