Are you unable to work due to a medical condition or injury, but currently pay child support? If so, you likely have questions.
Will I be required to continue paying child support? How can I afford it when my wages have been cut so drastically? Is it possible for my wages or disability benefits to be garnished?
These questions are incredibly important, which is why the Law Offices of Michael Hartup are sharing information you need to know about SSD and child support.
If I claim disability, will I still be required to pay child support?
Claiming social security disability does not mean you will no longer have to pay child support. You will still be required to pay the mandated amount. However, there are steps you can take if you find that you are no longer able to afford your previous payment amount.
What steps should I take if I can no longer afford to pay child support?
It may be possible to decrease the amount of child support you’re paying while claiming disability. Depending on your current situation, you can speak with your co-parent to set up a different plan, or you can go through the court system to get the payment order modified.
If you are legally able to adjust payments with the co-parent, ask for a meeting to formally explain why you are financially unable to continue with the agreed-upon amount of monthly child support.
It’s important to give the co-parent background on your injury or illness and to explain how this results in a decrease in your monthly wages. This will help them understand why it’s not feasible to continue with the previously agreed-upon amount.
Keep in mind that the co-parent may ask for proof, to which they are entitled. In this case, you will want to have your award for disability letter, along with a letter from your physician that outlines your limitations and reasoning for being unable to work.
If the co-parent agrees to new terms, you will both need to formally put the new terms in writing and sign and date the document. The two of you can then go to the court and have a judge approve the new amount.
If no agreement can be made with the co-parent, you will need to go to court. Specifically, a modification hearing will need to be organized. During this hearing, you will again need the Award for Disability letter and a letter from your physician to prove your limitations or why you cannot work. The judge will ask a series of questions pertaining to wage amounts, time spent with each parent, and so on, before making a final determination.
It is important to note that if you owe back-dated child support, those amounts will not be lowered when petitioning the court to lower future payments due to your disability claim.
Will I be subject to wage garnishment?
It is possible for your Social Security benefit check (or a portion of it) to be garnished in order to pay your owed child support. If you do owe back pay child support and you are awarded a lump sum in disability back payment, these wages can most certainly be garnished. A percent of the lump sum awarded can (and likely will) be taken to pay those debts.
Most states, including Tennessee, follow the Consumer Credit Protection Act (CCPA), which provides consumer protection against lenders. This federal legislation allows for 50 to 60 percent of a disability check to be garnished, along with another five percent on top of that, if back child support is owed. The CCPA helps consumers continue paying other obligations as well.