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Can My SSDI Backpay be Garnished for Child Support?

What Happens to my Social Security Disability Benefits if I owe Child Support?

Your commitment to pay child support does not stop because you have a disabling condition. If havent paid child support and owe on your child support obligations, your Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) backpay can be garnished. A court can include your SSDI backpay and monthly disability benefits when calculating your monthly child support obligation.

What Can and Cant Be Garnished?

Federal benefits are normally protected from being garnished. Garnishment occurs when a creditor or debt collector obtains a court order to take money from a debtor’s wages or bank account to pay a debt. This could include regular debts, such as medical bills, personal loans, or even credit card bills. Social Security retirement, SSDI, and SSI are typically among the federal benefits protected from garnishment.

However, there are exceptions and the government allows certain creditors to garnish federal benefits. For example, the IRS can garnish your social security disability benefits to pay outstanding income taxes. The IRS can take a percentage, normally 15 percent of your monthly benefits, until the debt is paid. However, when it comes to SSI, also known as Supplemental Security Income benefits, the IRS cannot garnish these benefits to pay back due federal taxes.

The federal government can also order SSDI benefits and backpay be garnished for delinquent child support payments. Unfortunately, there is no appeal to SSA or any other federal agency over garnishing disability benefits for past-due income taxes or child support. If you do not agree with the garnishment, you would have to take legal action in district court. SSA does not handle issues regarding back pay child support or garnishment of child support.

Although there is no way to get around a garnishment when it comes to back due child support, maybe the best way of handling back due child support is to reach in agreement with the other parent wherein you pay a reduced amount. It may be helpful to get the modification approved by the court. This way you still pay your child support obligations but you pay at a reduced agreed upon rate so that you are financially strained.

If you and the other parent cannot reach an agreement and simply dont get along, you can request a child support modification hearing. You'll likely want to hire legal counsel if you decide to go this route. Your lawyer can make arguments to the judge as to why the original child support order should be modified now that you have a disability and reduced income. Normally, the judge will consider things such as the income of both parents in determining to modify the order or not.

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