Skip to main content

Can the custodial parent receive the childs check from social security when the noncustodial parent is retired?

Reno, NV |

My ex is retired and receives a monthly check for our child as well as his own social security. He is using the money to live off of and very little goes to our child. Since I recently obtained Primary custody and pay nearly all expenses related to her care shouldn't I be the one collecting her check? He has also only paid child support for one month since the new order was put into place 6 months ago.

Attorney Answers 3


  1. Best answer

    Generally, yes, the custodial parent is the Representative Payee for Social Security benefits paid on behalf of a minor child. You need to talk to your divorce lawyer about this.

    Some divorce documents designate one parent as having legal custody, with shared physical custody. Ordinarily with this arrangement, the parent with legal custody would be the payee. If the divorce documents state that both legal custody and physical custody are shared 50/50, then the parents may have to agree who will be payee for the children.

    It is possible for one parent to be payee for one child, and the other parent to be payee for the other child -- but keep in mind that benefits for a child ordinarily stop at age 18, so with this arrangement, one parent would get social security checks for a longer time. Social Security child benefits end at age 18 unless the child is a full-time student not yet graduated from high school, or unless the child is disabled before age 22. Social Security benefits are not payable for college.

    Social security benefits are considered when child support is figured, but there is no exact formula. Often, the parties agree. If not, the Judge will decide. There may not be any additional child support ordered from the parent who gets Social Security -- but this is not always the case.

    Per SSA:

    CAN I CHANGE MY REPRESENTATIVE PAYEE?
    Yes, you can change your payee if you wish. If you decide to change your payee, you should notify SSA as soon as you make the decision. You will need to fill out an application form at your local Social Security office.

    The person you choose to replace your present payee must provide SSA with a letter indicating that he/she is willing to serve as your payee and must provide SSA with proof of his/her identity.

    Once you’ve sent the application form and the new payee has sent the letter to SSA, the change in payee should take effect in about a month. You and your new payee should each receive a written notice of this before any benefits are paid to the new payee.

    child and spousal support garnishment

    The Social Security system limits the garnishment amount to the lesser of the State maximum or the maximum under the Consumer Credit Protection Act (CCPA) (15 U.S.C. 1673(b)) and is based on the law of the State where the beneficiary resides. Hereafter, the CCPA limit is referred to as the “Federal” limit. The CCPA limits garnishment to:

    50%, if the beneficiary is supporting a spouse and/or child other than the spouse and/or child whose support has been ordered.

    60%, if the beneficiary is not supporting another spouse and/or child.

    55% or 65% respectively, if the garnishment order or other evidence submitted indicates the original support ordered is 12 or more weeks in arrears.

    NOTE: SSI payments are not subject to garnishment.

    Disclaimer Information on this site is provided by Brian Scott Wayson as general information, not legal advice, and use of this information does not establish an attorney-client relationship. If you have questions about your specific situation, please call an attorney.


  2. I would like to assume that this came up when you were in court. You mention a recent order. If the court ordered child support, then all income husband receives should have been taken into consideration. If the child support ordered is the social security for the benefit of the child, then the primary parent should be the payee. You have a contempt claim if husband is not paying child support, or you can go to the DA's office and enforce his child support at no cost. (There might be a minimum $2.00 admin fee)


  3. My colleagues have given good responses. If you want to change the payee, Mr. Wayson has even described SSA policy.

    I hope this helps. Good luck to you!
    ------------------------------------------------
    Please remember to designate a best answer to your question.

    The exact answers to questions like this require more information than presented. The answer(s) provided should be considered general information. The information provided by this is general advice, and is not legal advice. Viewing this information is not intended to create, and does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. It is intended to educate the reader and a more definite answer should be based on a consultation with a lawyer. You should not take any action that might affect your claim without first seeking the professional opinion of an attorney. You should consult an attorney who can can ask all the appropriate questions and give legal advice based on the exact facts of your situation. The general information provided here does not create an attorney-client relationship.

Child support topics

Top tips from attorneys

What others are asking

Can't find what you're looking for?

Post a free question on our public forum.

Ask a Question

- or -

Search for lawyers by reviews and ratings.

Find a Lawyer

Browse all legal topics