Written by attorney Susan L. Jeffries

How SSI, SSDI affects child support.

“SSI" is Supplemental Security Income "SSDI" is Social Security Disability Income They are NOT the same Both SSDI and SSI. Benefits are exempt from attachment for support or other debts. SSI is a variety of federal welfare for disabled persons. It requires disability plus need (no assets over $2000) and it continues as long as the person is disabled. There are no dependent benefits available to SSI recipients. In California the benefit can be as much as $850 per month. A child may be eligible independently if the parent is disabled and indigent. If the child receives SSI due to a parent’s disability, the benefit paid by the SSA is a direct offset against the amount of the child support order. SSDI, does provide “dependent benefits"(which can total one-half of the disabled parent's benefit) because SSI recipients have not paid in sufficient quarters to be eligible for Social Security Administration retirement / pension or disability benefits. Only a disability rating is required.. No “ need" is shown. The benefit paid is based on the amount they paid in. For example, if a client has worked for the County, and no where else, and has paid no money into SSA, when they became disabled and all other income benefits were tapped out, they are left with SSI.. Their children may then qualify for SSI as well. If a client works for a non-government entity they qualify for SSDI benefits based on the past income which was basis the amount of taxes paid into SSA. The children can then qualify for up to one half of the parent’s benefit. In both cases, the payor’s child support is offset by the full amount of the SSI or SSDI income benefit payable on behalf of the children. Some call this a "child support exemption," but that terminology is not accurate. SSI can NOT be legally counted as a parent’s income for child support purposes. Factually, it is offset dollar for dollar by any earned income, up to the $853 per month. In addition, if a person recovers from their disability, the benefit stops immediately, regardless of need or lack of other income.

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