Have you recently become disabled and are in the process of filing a Social Security Disability claim? Do you pay child support and think that you might run into financial hardships trying to keep up with your child support payments on your now reduced income? If so, it's crucial that you do the following two things immediately after becoming eligible for SSDI.
#1: Request A Reduction In Your Child Support Payments
Many people assume that, should they become eligible for disability benefits, they'll receive a notification in the mail if they're also eligible for a reduction in their child support payments. This isn't the case. The process is not automatic.
You need to take the first step by contacting the court and asking them to set up a child support hearing. While child support cases fall under probate law, your disability lawyer is the person who will help you here. Your disability lawyer will have your disability application receipt, and will have already gathered the necessary medical records and financial statements to prove that you are disabled. The same information used by the Social Security administration to verify your disabled status can be used at your child support hearing to prove that the dollar amount of your child support payments surpasses your means to pay for them.
At your hearing, the judge will review all of the information presented to him or her, and then make a decision as to whether or not your quality of life will be reduced should you continue to make your already established child support payments. If the judge agrees that you can no longer afford your current child support payments, they will reduce your payments based on your new financial situation.
How much will your payments be reduced by? It depends. Each state has their own formula for determining child support payments, and some states count your disability payments as income while others do not.
#2: File For Dependent Benefits
Another common misconception that prevents people from seeking reduced child support following an SSDI claim is that they are afraid that a reduced payment will take financial support away from their child.
If this is your concern, you can relax. Once you're approved for SSDI, you can file for dependent benefits. These benefits guarantee your dependent child up to 50% of your total SSDI benefits each month. These benefits are not taken out of your SSDI check, but rather are provided on top of your benefits so that your child's financial well-being is not affected by your reduced income.
In many (but not all) states, the amount of dependent benefits your child receives is deducted from the amount of child support you're expected to pay each month. Your child can continue to receive these payments until they turn eighteen years of age. The payments can be extended for an additional year as long as your child remains a full-time, unmarried student.
If your child is disabled, they may be able to continue receiving benefits after the age of nineteen. If you have more than one dependent child, each child can receive benefits; however, the amount of benefits your combined children receive cannot exceed 180 percent of your total awarded SSDI amount.
It's a scary thing to be thrown into a situation where your income is drastically reduced, and it's even scarier when you have a child that you're financially responsible for. If you've recently been disabled and you pay child support, click to find out more and make sure both you and your child are taken care of by taking the above two steps immediately after you're approved for SSDI benefits.