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Child Support and Social Security Benefits

There are three different types of Social Security benefits, two of which have an impact on support of children in NJ.

  • Social Security Death Benefits for children
  • Social Security Income (SSI), needs based payment
  • Social Security Disability (SSD), based on a disability
Social Security Death Benefits for Children

If a parent of a child is deceased, and that parent had a work record and would be able to collect social security at a later date, his or her children are entitled to Social Security Benefits. These benefits continue until each child reaches the age of 18, 19 if the child is still in high school full time, longer if the child is disabled. The surviving parent, if still caring for the deceased’s child or children under 16, can also receive a payment until the youngest reaches 16 years old. This would be the only Social Security Benefit available for the children of a deceased parent, and their surviving, care taking parent.

Social Security Income

Social Security Income (SSI) is not actually considered income for child support purposes, nor can it be garnished for child support payment. In part, this is an award determined by the financial needs of the recipient in consideration of their income and other resources. Using it as income for the purposes of child support would result in the payor losing what the County has determined payee needs to survive.

Social Security Disability and Direct Payment to children

Social Security Disability (SSD) is a completely different story. These payments are considered income for child support purposes as their intent is to replace income that has been lost because of a disability of the parent. As an income replacement, this counts toward child support calculations in NJ.

The minor children of a parent who receives SSD are entitled to receipt of their own direct benefit. This is something for which the parent receiving SSD must apply or the child or children get nothing. The payments that come directly to the children are used to reduce the child support obligation of the payor. The thinking is that those payments reduce the living expenses for the child, and it is a result of the payor that such payments are received in the child’s household.

In calculating the child support obligation of the payor, there is a dollar for dollar credit of any payments made to the children in the custodial parent’s household receiving benefits through the parent’s SSD. If the total child support obligation is less than the total of those payments, then there will be no additional child support award as long as the child receives the benefits. On the other hand, if the total of those SSD based payments does not offset the entire support obligation, then there will be a child support award made for which the payor is liable.

If you need to discuss child support and Social Security Benefits in NJ, call the Law Offices of Peter Van Aulen for a consultation at 201-845-7400.

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