Many clients often ask if their Social Security benefits can be garnished for child support. This answer depends on the kind of benefit that he or she is receiving. For those receiving Social Security disability insurance benefits (DIB), the answer is yes, the Social Security Administration may garnish a person’s benefits for child support, alimony, or restitution. However, the custodial parent cannot place a lien against future Social Security disability benefits.
Garnishments will be enforced against all payments for Disability Insurance Benefits including underpayments (i.e., back pay given to a recipient while waiting for his or her claim to be approved) and lump sum death payments. The Social Security Administration percentage is based on the lesser of either the State maximum percentage or the maximum percentage under the Consumer Credit Protection Act. If a recipient of Social Security disability owes child support to more than one child, some money is required to be paid on each order for current child support. However, current child support takes priority over child support arrearages.
Because Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a means-tested program that is not based on a person’s employment history, those benefits cannot be garnished for child support. This is primarily due to the fact that SSI is considered to be a form of public assistance protecting individuals from poverty. SSI is intended to provide for basic needs such as clothing, housing, and food and is therefore not subject to garnishment.
Once a person is deemed disabled by the Social Security Administration, his or her obligation to pay child support does not end. While children sometimes do receive auxiliary benefits after a parent has been found to be disabled, these benefits are not the same as the parent’s obligation to pay child support.
For more information on garnishment of Social Security benefits, contact an experienced Social Security disability attorney at Gardberg & Kemmerly, P.C. today at 251-343-1111 for a free case evaluation. Gardberg & Kemmerly, P.C. represents Social Security disability claimants in Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, and Louisiana at all levels of the disability process from initial application to appeals to Federal Court.