Every child has the right to receive support from his parents whether they live together, are separated, or divorced. California courts are zealous protectors of a child’s best interests, and parents typically cannot stop paying court-ordered child support obligations without court approval. However, there are times where parents cannot meet their duties as ordered by the court. This may be the case for parents who are living with limited resources and only receive minimum payments from the federal government. What can a parent do in such cases? Our Ventura child support lawyers at The Law Offices of Bamieh & De Smeth explain more about obtaining child support from a parent receiving Social Security benefits.

Obtaining Child Support Payments from Someone on Social Security

The State of California will always protect and uphold the child’s best interests. This includes making sure the child receives monthly child support. Parents on fixed incomes, such as disability or Social Security, may have trouble affording child support obligations. You may be able to obtain child support from someone on Social Security Income (SSI), but the monthly amount you receive for your children can be quite low.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) provides two main types of benefits: retirement and disability. These benefits are either paid as Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which pays both retirement and need-based disability benefits, or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), which pays workers with disabilities. SSI is a benefit provided specifically to people with low income. SSDI pays benefits for people who have a long work history, have paid Social Security taxes over the years, and are disabled.

If you receive SSI benefits, you may have very low income. If you are disabled and receiving SSI, those payments are usually your only income. If you are retired, you may have additional income from pensions or retirement funds, but SSI may provide a large portion of your income. When calculating child support amounts, this usually results in a very low child support payment calculation. Sometimes, the courts cannot even consider the SSI payments “income,” and the court may determine the child support payor has no income and cannot pay child support.

If the noncustodial parent starts receiving SSI benefits, they must continue to satisfy any existing child support obligations, even if their income is drastically reduced. If they cannot keep up with those payments, they can request child support modification for lowered payments.

Additionally, an SSI beneficiary cannot get his or her monthly benefits garnished or seized to pay any child support or alimony arrears. SSI is considered a welfare benefit – just like food stamps – rather than a benefit obtained as a result of work history. SSI payments are protected from garnishment under federal law, so payments cannot be automatically made from supplemental security income.

Can I Get Child Support from SSDI Benefits in California?

Different from SSI, SSDI payments are seen as an income source. Therefore, an SSDI beneficiary can have their SSDI benefits garnished to pay their child support obligations.

All monthly child support obligations must be satisfied to avoid any penalties. However, a person receiving SSDI benefits can ask for a modification to the child support order to reflect their modified income while on SSDI. Nonetheless, all payments must be made in full until a child support modification is granted.

Additionally, your child can obtain SSDI derivative benefits. These benefits are granted to the children and family of people receiving disability. The Social Security Administration may grant a specified amount of money to a child whose noncustodial parent receives SSDI. To be eligible, your children must meet specific criteria, such as being younger than 18 years old and unmarried.

How Are Child Support Payments Calculated in California?

Child support payments are made following the state’s child support guidelines. The court will analyze each parent’s monthly net income and the amount of time each parent spends with their children to calculate child support amounts in California. Additionally, the court will also look at other factors, such as the following:

  • Employment wages
  • Disability benefits
  • Workers’ compensation benefits
  • Stocks

Once the court has assessed both parents’ incomes, it will determine the amount of child support based on the children’s needs. These needs include clothing, housing, education, food, and other expenses. A skilled lawyer can help you navigate the child support process after a separation or divorce.

California Child Support Attorneys Serving Ventura and Santa Barbara

Going through the child support process can be overwhelming and confusing. Thanks to our many years of hands-on experience, our Ventura family law attorneys can guide you through your child support case. The Law Offices of Bamieh & De Smeth offer free initial consultations on child support cases. Learn more about your child support case by setting up your free, confidential consultation with one of our skilled lawyers. Call our law offices today at (805) 643-5555.