Child support amounts in New Jersey depend on a variety of factors, including the parent's available income and earning capability. These factors are fairly straight-forward when the parent works full time, or has a steady income source such as a business or retirement fund. Things are a bit more complicated, however, for parents who are receiving benefits under the Social Security Disability Insurance program, also known as SSDI. This program, administered by the Social Security Administration, provides financial assistance to disabled individuals who were working for at least 5 of the 10 years leading up to their disability.
Like unemployment and social security retirement benefits, SSDI counts as available income under the New Jersey Child Support guidelines. What sets SSDI apart from these other programs is that your child may be eligible to receive dependency benefits that are separate from your own benefits. Formally known as SSDI derivative benefits, these payments are meant to help you provide for your child after a long-term or permanent disability renders you unable to work. SSDI derivative benefits are similar to child support in that the payments are made directly to the custodial parent on a monthly basis. Your child would not have to be disabled to receive SSDI derivative benefits, since it would be based on your disability status and earning record. In addition, your child can receive SSDI derivative benefits even if they are already receiving SSI (Supplemental Security Income) benefits.
As previously mentioned, SSDI is factored into the standard child support calculations. Your child's dependency benefits would be subtracted from this amount in order to determine the final child support obligation. For example, let's say your child is eligible to receive $300 in SSDI derivative benefits. Your standard child support amount, factoring in your SSD benefits, is calculated to be $500. Your child's monthly benefit of $300 would be subtracted from $500, and your monthly child support obligation will be set at $200. If the derivative benefit amount is the same as, or higher than the calculated child support amount, you would not be obligated to pay child support while your child is receiving SSDI.
If you are receiving Social Security Disability benefits, or any other type of government assistance, it's imperative that you speak to an attorney about your child support rights and legal options. There is often confusion over benefits such as SSI and SSDI, which are both administered by the Social Security Administration. SSI, which is financial assistance for extremely low income individuals with little to no assets, does not count as income for the purpose of child support calculations. SSDI, however, serves as compensation for lost wages as a result of disability, which is why it counts towards your monthly child support obligations. There are be other regulations that apply to to your specific situation, depending on your assets and income sources. For more information on your child support obligations, please speak with the attorneys of Villani & DeLuca, P.C.