SOCIAL SECURITY PAYMENTS AND CHILD SUPPORT OBLIGATIONS

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Child support payments are generally deductible

We get calls all the time from our clients who want to know, "can they take a portion of my monthly benefit check for child support"? The answer is yes! If you have a support order, your monthly check may be reduced by that ordered amount. And, if you owe back support, a percentage of your back pay may be taken in order to satisfy any outstanding child support arrearages. If you owe child support you have to pay it. If the original support amount was determined when the claimant was working, they may be able to lower the payment due to a "change in circumstance". If the child support obligor is awarded Disability Insurance Benefits, then his children may be eligible for derivative benefits which can also be credited against any child support obligation.

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Ohio Law

The Supreme Court of Ohio, in Williams v. Williams, 88 Ohio St. 3d 441 (2000) resolved the issue of whether disability payments made to a child on behalf of a parent should be credited against the joint obligation of the parties after which the remainder is proportioned between the parties. The Court resolved the issue in favor of a full credit against either parent's current child support obligations. The term "full credit" in Williams means full credit for the derivative benefits paid, not full credit for the obligor's other obligations. The Williams holding was codified in the definitions in RC 3119.01 and on the child support worksheets.

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The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that any benefits paid to a child on behalf of a parent that are non-means tested including retirement, disability or survivor benefits are treated as a deduction against that parent's child support obligation. Where a child receives a means-tested, needs-based benefit from social security there is no deduction against the obligor's child support obligation, however, it may be considered along with other factors in establishing the amount of the child support obligation.

Additional Resources

Aebi Law Firm

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