Child support – Can it be modified if I get SSDI?

Child support – Can it be modified if I get SSDI?

If you have been ordered to pay child support it may have been easy if you were employed and getting a pay check every couple of weeks, but what if you have disabled and you are now unable to work? What if you have been approved for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) but your income has been substantially lowered? You may be wondering if you can get the child support order modified.

What is child support?


Child support is often the most litigious and contentious aspect of a divorce settlement. Child support is money paid to support children after a divorce. Many parents fight paying child support, but it is really for the children to ensure that their lifestyle is not dramatically changed after the divorce.

What is Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)?


If you have become disabled with a condition which is severe, expected to last for at least 12 continuous months, does not allow you to work, and you are insured for SSDI (which means you have worked, paid taxes and earned enough work credits) you may qualify for SSDI benefits.

Payment amounts vary, but the average worker makes on average approximately $1,100 per month if they receive SSDI (many workers receive much less). For many workers this will be a severe decrease in income.

How is child support calculated?


Child support is not calculated based on the division of marital assets or spousal misconduct. Instead child support is based on the needs of the child, the ability of the non-custodial parent to support him or herself, the standard of living of the children prior to the divorce and whether the non-custodial parent has additional children they must support.

Obviously, if you have lost your job due to your disability and you have now taken a substantial cut in pay the factors initially used to determine the amount you could pay in child support payments may now no longer be relevant. But what can you do? Can you go back to court and petition for a modified child support order? Yes, you can.

When Can I modify my child support payments?


There are a variety of reasons a child support order could be modified and receiving SSDI is just one of them. Other reasons can include:

  • A reduction in the income of either parent.
  • A serious illness or disability of either parent.
  • A change in your child’s circumstances such as reaching the age of majority or inheriting money.
  • A change in the financial circumstances of either parent.

When do I NOT have to pay child support?


The only type of disability claimants who do not have their payments garnished are Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients. This program is not the same as SSDI. It is only for claimants who are blind, disabled or aged and who do not have the ability to work. This program is also only for those with VERY limited income and resources. It is similar to other types of Federal welfare programs and payments are not garnished for child support.

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