If you develop a medical condition that forces you to stop working and to go on Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), it can affect your life in several ways. If you have minor children on whose behalf you pay child support to the other parent, chances are the amount you can pay each month will not be as high on SSDI or SSI as it was when you were working.
As such, you will need to apply for a modification to reduce your child support obligation. When you transfer your child support from your job to disability, you might be asked several questions by the other parent and their attorney. Here are a few common examples of what questions are asked when transferring child support to SSDI:
What Is the Difference Between Your Previous Income and Your Disability Amount?
Your child support obligation is based on the amount of income you are bringing in. In many states, for example, the non-custodial parent is required to pay 20 percent of their gross income in child support. If your income declines, then in most cases, so does your child support obligation.
When you stop working and you go on disability, you will almost certainly be asked to show how much you will be making. This amount will be compared to what you were making before.
Child Support Payment Example
If you were making $6,000 per month and paying 20 percent of that amount in child support, the other parent would have been getting $1,200 per month from you. If your SSDI income is only $2,000 per month, the other parent could be looking at a reduction in child support to $400 per month.
Are You Receiving SSDI or SSI?
Another important distinction involves whether your disability benefits are coming from SSDI or SSI. If you are receiving SSDI, your child support obligation will often continue, albeit at an amount that is likely lower than what you were paying before.
But if your disability benefits are coming from SSI, a means-tested program for the needy, your obligation to pay child support might cease altogether. That is because SSI benefits are so low that they are typically only enough to meet the most basic living expenses. A person receiving SSI and nothing else is typically not capable of supporting anyone else.
Does Your Child Qualify for Dependent Benefits?
If you have children under 18, or children up to 19 who are in school full time, they might qualify for dependent benefits based on your previous income. If they do, these benefits can affect your child support obligation, often wiping out some or all of what you are required to pay.
Different states treat dependent benefits in different ways when it comes to determining one’s child support obligation. In some states, the dependent benefits received by your child count toward your obligation and thus reduce it or even wipe it out entirely. In other states, you might not get your obligation reduced just because your child receives dependent benefits. Your lawyer can walk you through what to expect.
Are You Behind on Child Support Payments?
The other parent and their lawyer might press into whether you are behind on child support payments. If you have back child support, the other parent’s lawyer might petition for it to be garnished from your SSDI benefits. If you are receiving SSI, it is unlikely that you will have your benefits garnished.
If at any point in the future you get behind on child support, as a general rule the money can be involuntarily taken from your SSDI benefits but not from SSI.
Can You Provide Support in Other Ways to Make Up for Your Lowered Child Support Payment?
Depending on your relationship with the other parent, they might or might not take the news calmly that the child support they are receiving is about to decrease.
If you are hoping for an amicable resolution to the issue, consider being prepared to offer support in other ways to make up for the lower child support you will be paying going forward. For instance, maybe you currently keep the kids every other weekend plus one night a week but could offer to keep them additional nights during the week.
To Speak With a Social Security Disability Attorney, Call 866-628-8179
At the Law Offices of Ogle, Elrod & Baril, PLLC, our attorneys fight for the rights of our disabled clients. We want to help you get and keep the benefits you deserve. We offer a free consultation and case evaluation to all new clients. If you have any additional inquiries about what questions are asked when transferring child support to SSDI, contact us.
To speak with an attorney, call us today at 866-628-8179.