Understanding the Intersection Between Child Support and Benefits for Children

Is your child receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI)? Are you considering seeking SSI for your child due to his or her health and financial needs? If so, it is important to understand the delicate intersection of child support and eligibility for benefits – as child support payments are considered the child’s income and can greatly impact (or eliminate) the extent of the child’s eligibility for assistance.

Supplemental security income is available for children who are deemed to be blind or disabled – as well as meet certain household income criteria to demonstrate financial need. If you are receiving child support and hoping to also qualify your child for SSI benefits, keep in mind that the Social Security Administration (SSA) will count two-thirds of the payment amount as “unearned income.” After the first $20.00 in child support, any amount beyond that will count dollar-for-dollar against the child’s SSI eligibility.

It is also important to address the scenario in which a child has actually reached the age of adulthood, but is still receiving child support payments under a court order. When this occurs, the one-third exemption does not apply, and the SSA counts 100 percent of the child support payment as unearned income.

In some families, child support recipients opt to retain the monthly support payments in a trust or interest-bearing account for the benefit of the child when he or she reaches adulthood. In an SSI situation, however, this would count as an “asset” belonging to the child – and eligibility would be adjusted accordingly.

One way to help avoid this unfortunate result – particularly if a child is receiving Medicaid coverage as well – is to work with an experienced attorney to set up a special needs trust. In this scenario, the trust is actually the “owner” of the assets – as opposed to the child – and the child can avoid the unnecessary result of losing eligibility for SSI benefits as a result of his or her legal right to receive child support from a non-custodial parent.

Contact an experienced Social Security attorney today!

To learn more about the process involved in obtaining and maintaining benefits for children, please contact Roeschke Law today: 1-800-975-1866.