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Disability Dependent Benefits Can Contribute to Child Support

Posted on in Child Support

Disability Dependent Benefits Can Contribute to Child SupportBecoming permanently disabled does not eliminate your child support obligation after a divorce, but it can change what you pay. People who live off of disability benefits typically have less income than before, which allows them to modify their child support payments. If you are receiving Social Security Disability Insurance, your children may be eligible to receive SSDI dependent benefits as well. In shared parenting situations, these payments would go directly towards child support.

What Are SSDI Dependent Benefits?

The purpose of SSDI dependent benefits is to help a disabled parent support his or her children who rely on the parent’s income. A child can qualify for SSDI dependent benefits if he or she is:

  • Younger than 18 and unmarried;
  • Younger than 19 and enrolled full-time in a secondary school; or
  • Disabled and the disability started before age 22.

Each child is eligible to receive payments that are worth as much as 50 percent of the disabled parent’s SSDI benefits. However, the total value of the disabled parent’s benefits and the children’s benefits cannot exceed 180 percent of the disabled parent’s original benefits. Thus, if you have two dependent children, they cannot both receive payments that are worth 50 percent of your benefits.

Recent Case

Some parents disagree on how they should handle SSDI dependent benefits when including them as part of a child support agreement. A recent Illinois court ruling made it clear that:

  • The benefits count towards the disabled parent’s income; and
  • The disabled parent should receive the benefits in order to directly apply them to child support expenses.

In the case of In re Marriage of Benyon, the father had a pending workers’ compensation claim during his divorce. The divorce agreement awarded equal parenting time to each parent, and the court determined that it would be inappropriate for either party to pay child support to the other given the circumstances. The children qualified to receive SSDI dependent benefits, and the trial court ordered that the payments be put into an account to be used for excess child care expenses. Any amount left over each month would go into a savings account for the children. The father appealed the ruling, and an appellate court overturned it, stating that the SSDI dependent benefits are intended to pay for immediate childcare costs. The court ordered that the father should receive the benefits so that he can use them to pay for his share of the child support obligation.

Contact a Kane County Divorce Attorney

A significant change of circumstances, such as being unable to work due to a disability, allows you to petition for an immediate reduction of child support. A St. Charles, Illinois, divorce lawyer at Goostree Law Group can help you state your case for modifying your child support obligation. Schedule a free consultation by calling 630-584-4800.


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