Derivative Social Security Benefits & Child Support
August 14, 2015

How Derivative Social Security Benefits Impact Child Support Obligations


derivative social security benefits in child support
Receipt of derivative Social Security benefits can impact child support obligations.

The guidelines for establishing child support obligations are constantly being reviewed and modified to assure that the formula and guidelines appropriately consider all sources of income available to the parties.

One area that has been modified on a number of occasions are the rules pertaining to the treatment of derivative Social Security child benefits.  (A derivative Social Security benefit simply refers to the benefit a child would receive because a parent is receiving Social Security benefits due to a parent’s disability or retirement.)

The derivative payment provides additional income to help support the child who receives it. The question is how that income should be assessed when calculating support.  As recently as April of this year, the guidelines have been modified to determine how these derivative benefits impact child support calculations.

Calculations Based on Income

Support calculations are generally based upon the combined incomes of the payor and the recipient of the support.  The combined incomes are then used as the basis for determining the total child support obligation.  This basic support obligation is then apportioned between the parties based upon each party’s percentage share of their combined net incomes.

Added to the Income of the Party Receiving the Check

The current regulation provides that if a child is receiving Social Security benefits as a result of a parent’s retirement or disability, the amount of the benefit is added to the income of the party actually receiving the Social Security check on behalf of the child.  If the child’s benefit is being paid to the party receiving support on behalf of the child, the amount of the Social Security derivative benefit is deducted from the basic support obligation of the person whose retirement or disability created the derivative benefit.  However, if the derivative benefit is paid to the person obligated to pay support, the amount is not deducted from the payor’s obligation.

Confused? Not Surprising!

If this sounds confusing – it is!  Suffice it to say that in April 2015 the regulations regarding the treatment of derivative Social Security child benefits changed and if you are paying support or receiving support for a child receiving such benefits, it would be advisable for you to check the support calculations with your attorney to see how the new guidelines impact your situation.

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