In New York and across the country, parents are legally responsible to support their children whether they’re married or not. It’s common knowledge among noncustodial parents that their monthly child support obligation will have a lot to do with their income.
But what if the parent becomes disabled and has to go on Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits? Since the parent is not working, do the disability benefits count as “income” for child support purposes and can they be garnished for child support?
What Are SSDI Benefits?
The Social Security Administration (SSA) is the government agency that administers the Social Security Disability program. The SSA distributes monthly cash benefits to qualified workers who meet the SSA’s definition of a “disability.” For a worker to meet the definition of a disability, he or she must have a condition that is expected to last at least one year or result in death.
In addition to the above, the worker cannot receive disability benefits unless he or she has worked long enough to qualify. Usually, this means the individual must have worked five out of the previous ten years to receive benefits.
If the worker has not worked enough in the past five years, he or she may not qualify for SSDI benefits, but they may qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) instead, a program that is also administered by the SSA, but it’s different. This program is designed for low-income disabled and elderly individuals, as well as blind and disabled children.
“If I am the noncustodial parent and I start receiving SSDI benefits, will they be counted as income?” Yes, they will be counted as income and they can be taken to pay your child support payments. However, if you receive SSI benefits, they are untouchable and they cannot be counted as income when your child support order is calculated.
While SSI benefits are not counted as income for child support purposes, SSDI benefits, workers’ compensation benefits, and unemployment benefits are all counted as income for child support purposes; therefore, they can be garnished for child support in New York.
Do you need professional assistance with a child support case? If so, we invite you to contact Jason M. Barbara & Associates, P.C. for a free consultation.