Paying for child support when your only source of income is from social security is a primary concern for older or disabled parents. This is certainly understandable, considering that the average social security benefit is a little over $1,100 per month. While government benefits such as social security and unemployment are not exempt from child support garnishments, the amount of support is largely based on the parents' available income. In addition, there are specific rules for how child support is deducted from each type of social security benefit. These benefits include social security retirement, Social Security Disability (SSD) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
Most people begin taking their retirement benefits at age 66 or 67, although you may be eligible to receive them as early as 62. Under the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines, these count as standard “retirement benefits”, which also includes pensions, IRAs, or any other plan specifically structured to replace your regular earnings. This amount, along with numerous other factors are plugged into a formula, from which the judge will derive a support amount. The judge has the discretion to increase or decrease the amount based on factors such as how much time the child spends with each parent.
There are separate guidelines for Social Security Disability, which is meant to replace lost income for an individual who can no longer work due to disability. One important thing to understand about SSD is that it's always paid to the custodial parent, even if he or she is not the one who's disabled. Even more important, this amount must be deducted from the standard child support amount, regardless of which parent is disabled. This has unfortunately led to some disabled custodial parents being short-changed on the amount of support, thereby causing financial hardships for both the parent and the child. The parent can, however, petition the court for a deviation from the standard Guidelines in order to avoid extreme unfairness.
Unlike retirement and SSD, Supplemental Security Income is not eligible for child support garnishment. There are three reasons for this: 1) SSI is not funded by Social Security taxes, but rather by general tax revenue; 2) SSI is meant to only provide qualifying individuals with basic needs such as food and clothing. 3) Like food stamps and Section 8, SSI is a “means tested” benefit, which means that it's only available to those with little to no income. Thus, if your only source of income is SSI, it is understood that you would not have the resources to pay child support
For more information on child support calculations, please speak with the experienced family law attorneys of Villani & DeLuca, P.C. Our lawyers include a matrimonial law attorney, as well as divorce mediators and collaborative divorce attorneys. They will be happy to answer all your child support-related questions including paying for college, support order modifications and grounds for child support termination. Please schedule a free initial consultation with one of our attorneys.