SSI v. SSD and Child Support: What’s the Big Deal?

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By Julie Freeman-Burick, Esq.

New Jersey Family Law Attorney, Julie Freeman-Burick, Esq.When it comes to SSI and SSD it is a big deal, especially as it relates to support. First, it is important to know what they are. SSI stands for Supplemental Security Income. This is a means-tested disability program administered by the Social Security Administration for people who are disabled and who do not have sufficient work history to qualify for Social Security Disability or SSD.

SSI is essentially a public-assistance style program for the disabled. This means that in order to get SSI, the application must not only be disabled, but also be income and asset eligible. To qualify for SSI, the applicant must have very limited income and assets. Please note that the Social Security Administration has special  (and complicated) rules on calculating income and assets so it important to see an attorney who handles social security matters to ensure they are counting the income and/or assets correctly.

Appendix IV-B “Use Of The Child Support Guidelines” provides for “Types of Income Excluded from Gross Income” and specifically provides:

“The following types of income are excluded from gross income:

  1. means-tested income (i.e.,based on the fact that the recipient has minimal income and requires government assistance to live) including, but not limited to, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), Deficit Reduction Act (DEFRA), General Assistance, Refugee Assistance, rent subsidies, food stamps, and Supplemental Security Income for the Aged, Blind or Disabled; (emphasis added).

Because SSI recipients must be income and asset eligible and the benefits they receive are declared “means tested”, SSI is not considered income for purposes of calculating child support. That means that the Court should be using zero for the SSI recipient’s gross income on the Child Support Guidelines. If it is not calculated correctly, the SSI recipient could be paying more (if the payor) or receiving less (as the payee) of child support.

However, SSD is not a means-tested program. This is a benefit paid out based upon a recipient’s work history where they have paid into the disability program. Unlike SSI, there is no income or asset cap for SSD. However, unlike SSI, SSD is considered income for purposes of calculating child support. In this respect, Appendix IX-B provides that “Sources of Income” include, but is not limited to, income from the following sources: “m. disability grants or payments (including Social Security disability).”

Out of fairness to the chil(ren), it is very important that child support be calculated correctly and that income be appropriately identified. If you have received Social Security benefits and do not know if they were properly categorized, please contact the experienced family law attorneys in Haddonfield, NJ at Adinolfi & Lieberman, P.A. for a consultation today. Call our Law Offices at 856.428.8334 or contact us online.