Child Support and Retirement, Survivors, and Disability Insurance

Some Social Security Disability applicants have child support obligations. Those obligations do not go away when an individual is forced to stop working due to his or her medical conditions. If those obligations are not paid on time, it is quite possible that the arrearages can add up over time while an individual fights for his or her disability benefits. If and when benefits are awarded, those benefits can be garnished depending on the program he or she is approved for.

There are two different disability programs. One, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is based on financial need. The other, Retirement, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (RSDI), is based on an individual’s work history and how much he or she paid into the system. By rule, SSI benefits cannot be garnished for any reason or by any entity. RSDI, though, may be garnished to pay past-due child support. This includes any backpay an individual receives, not just ongoing monthly benefits.

Those who receive RSDI often also get auxiliary benefits for their minor children. Those benefits are sent to the adult who has majority-custody of the children in question. These are not a substitute for child support obligations that must be paid.

In situations such as these it is prudent to consult an attorney for assistance in petitioning the court to lower your child support obligations. This will not reduce an individual’s past-due child support obligations, but may reduce your future obligations due to a significant change in his or her circumstances.


By Adam Kachelski

Written by Adam Kachelski

Adam Kachelski is a 2014 graduate of the University of Wisconsin School of Law. He lives and works in Cincinnati.

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