Can SSI Be Garnished for Child Support?

February 23, 2011

My ex owes $25,000 in back child support and just got SSI with a lump sum of money how does that work?

By ppattt from Fort Myers, FL


February 6, 20132 found this helpful
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SSI can absolutely NOT be garnished for child or spousal support.

I waited the 5 years to allow the SSDI to drop away so that I could SPECIFICALLY collect SSI (I 'owe' a great deal of ransom...errrr...'child support') and flip the bird to the ex.


Further, all 'license suspensions', ie : drivers, professional, hunting, fishing, ect....are null & void once SSI kicks in. (including, but not limited to passport seizures).

I can't tell you the satisfaction I feel when I mail a copy of my SSI award letter to (along with a note with a middle-finger watermark) to support collection unit demanding they void their driver's license suspensions once a year.

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July 22, 20130 found this helpful
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No! SSDI and Social Security can be garnished for child support, but SSI can't be garnished. The reason is that SSI is not considered as income, in the sense that the recipient earned it or that it comes from earnings that was paid in to Social Security.


SSI does not come from the Social Security fund, but is given to low income people who don't qualify for Social Security or SSDI, and SSI is not considered as income, like Social Security and SSDI is.

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10 More Questions

Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

I am disabled and my only income is SSI. I was ordered to pay child support, but when I got my disability award, I attempted to modify it. My ex has fought me every step of the way on this. I originally filed for a modification a year ago and we have met with the OAG twice to modify.


The first time, they agreed to drop the support to $0, but he waited until after the meeting to inform the agent that he was no longer within that jurisdiction. The second meeting he said he was not in agreement, and wanted to push enforcement to the full extent of the law. We were issued a court hearing. At the hearing, he informed the agent that he had just hired a lawyer the day before and needed time to consult, so the hearing was reset.

I cannot afford a lawyer, and I am wondering how a lawyer can fight a modification in this case? My arrears is $3000. I receive $770 a month SSI and $800 a month in child support for my other child. I have been making payments out of that child support, when I can afford it, since all of my bills use up my SSI account.

My disability: marfan syndrome, severe scoliosis, spinal collapse syndrome, chronic recurrant pneumothorax (collapsing lungs), and i also have sleep apnea and a tumor on my liver but am not healthy enough to do any operations.

My ex was controlling and anusive while we were together and has admitted to trying to make my life as difficult as possible.


February 28, 20190 found this helpful
Best Answer

I am sorry to hear you continue to have issues. A lot of folks weighed in on your first post on Thrifty Fun and I think the advice still stands. It is very important for you to find a lawyer to help you with this situation.


I understand that you can't afford one, so you will need to work with your state senator to help you find a reliable and real legal aide service who can assist you.

There is a society (a group) for people who have Marfan disorder. I don't know anything about them, but I do know some non profits can offer people who suffer from their condition resources to help. This is a link to that site and their resource page. Call them and ask for help.

The last suggestion I have for you is to talk to your religious organization if you belong to one and see if they offer any kind of legal aide through the church/mosque/synagogue etc. This is a lat resort if for some unusual reason your state senator can't help you find legal aide.

Post back with updates. Prayers and blessings.

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March 4, 20190 found this helpful
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You will have to get an attorney as this is strictly a legal matter and if you do not have an attorney then you will most likely lose and have to pay support.


Try legal aid, family services to see if you qualify for assistance.

It is possible you will have to submit a very detailed account of what all of this money is being used for and If you are receiving any other type of government assistance (food stamps, Medicaid) these monies will also be taken into account.
The fact that you are not receiving child support for one of your children may also be used stating that part of the money you receive is being used for the second boy when his father should be paying also. It may not look very good if there has been no attempt to collect child support for the second child.
What is the age of the boys? Does either child have any health problems?

Since you have been making some payments out of the money you receive, this will probably be used as proof that you can afford to make the payments.

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June 4, 2018

Social Security has stopped my child support. The letter says child support can not take SSI/SSD money for child support! They still have not approved his Social Security disability.


He has been waiting 9 months, and got the letter about child support being stopped a month ago. My question is does this mean they will approve his Social Security disability?


June 7, 20180 found this helpful
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There is SSI and SSDI and there is a world of difference in the two programs. (There is no SSD.)

  • You say that SS has stopped your child support so does that mean that their father was paying child support through a court order in the past?
  • First - if their father is granted SSI then the letter is correct in that child support cannot be taken out of the SSI benefit that he receives. This does not change from state to state - it is valid in the US.
  • If you received a letter from the SSA about child support then it most likely means his claim has been approved.
  • The most important thing that you can do is to go to the Social Security Administration office ASAP and present the letter so they can tell you officially where you stand. (You will not be able to draw any support money if his SSI was approved.)
  • If he has been awarded SSDI then that is an entirely different story so you have to be SURE of what his benefit claim is (SSI or SSDI).
  • Also, if he is behind in support payments then you may be able to receive a portion of whatever back payment check they award him (SSI or SSDI).
  • If he has been waiting for 9 months then he will receive a check that will cover all of the months since he filled his claim.
  • You may be entitled to receive a portion of this check for any unpaid child support but you have to act fast to claim it.
  • If he already has the check (and cashed it) you may not be able to receive any of this money as the SSA will not help you recover any money after the check has been mailed and cashed.

Please go in person as SSA will not do anything over the telephone and this has to be done soon.

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April 12, 2018

If a person gets or receives SSI benefits, by law in Kentucky can a court make that person pay child support?


April 12, 20180 found this helpful
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A person pays child support based on what s/he has. If the person doesn't have enough assets, I don't think the court can force the person to pay. If the person has SSI, they don't have a lot of cash in the bank or other assets. The SSI helps them maintain a minimal standard of living.

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October 16, 2019

I was wanting to know if my ex still needs to pay child support. He recently got approved for partial SSI benefits in the amount of 338.29. He receives PERA in the amount of 441.67. So child support closed my case because he is receiving this amount in SSI. Who can help me to enforce the order by the court? I was in a bad car accident and have had no pay check for almost 2 months.

Thank you.

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I am a permanently disabled mother of 3 kids. SSI is my only income, plus child support for one of my kids.

The father of my youngest got custody by a legal loophole, and is pushing for child support enforcement. He is well aware of my life-threatening chronic condition, and the fact that I get SSI, and not SSDI.

I filed for modification of my child support order a year ago, but the OAG has refused to modify because my ex keeps filing enforcement, which creates a "pending legal action". He had them send the SSA a withholding order, which was promptly rejected with their message of "Nope. The client is on SSI. You can't."... They are still trying to enforce child support, and now asking for jail time or for me to pay by any means necessary. I had made a few payments out of my son's child support account, but I am $3300 in arrears.

Can I be jailed for this? Can they garnish my bank account where my SSI is deposited? My total monthly income, SSI and son's CS is $1500. I support myself and 2 teenage boys on this alone, and my daughter when she is here on visits.

My ex has told me directly that he plans to make me suffer for leaving him, and will push for me to get put in jail for my "criminal activity" of not paying him child support. He repeatedly has called me a deadbeat parent, even though I have supported my boys their whole lives, and this ex was spending $700-1200 a month when we were together, on beer and cigarettes. My daughter tells me he still drinks a lot and he won't buy her properly-fitting clothes, because supposedly it's my responsibility to provide all of her clothing. (She has stuff for my house.)

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November 3, 2018

I understand my SSI can't be garnished for back child support, but can the state of Oregon come after my bank account that my benefits are directly deposited in?


November 3, 20180 found this helpful

This is a question for Social Security. Make an appointment with them

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November 4, 20180 found this helpful

It is not possible for anyone on this site to answer a legal question such as you present because every state has a right to handle back child support in different ways.

I would venture to say that if you have a substantial amount of money in a personal bank account then you may be subject to the state/county making an attachment to pay for some of your back support (if this is who you were supposed to be paying child support through). How much of the money would be the next question because SSI is supposed to be for your care and it would appear that you may not need it if you have a large sum in a bank account.

If you have spent/used your back payment check and all you have in the bank is what is being deposited monthly then most likely the state cannot attach your SSI benefits.
Your ex-wife did not receive any money from your back payment check for any arrears in child support? This is what she probably could have done had she known to pursue it - and - if that money (from the back payment check) is still in your bank account then that money might be subject to attachment for any back child support.

As you can see; there are too many variables for anyone to give you any sort of advice. You should start with a visit to your local SSA office and then; if you feel it is necessary, you should consult an attorney.

If you cannot afford an attorney then you should consult someone at your local family services office. You can find their offices through a search on Google with your zip code.

Most people will feel that your children are legally and morally your responsibility and that you should be doing anything in your power to see they are provided for. Perhaps you have been unable to provide support in the past and probably cannot now if SSI is your only income but helping to provide for them as well as being a good father should still be a #1 goal in your life.

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July 27, 2017

I have a question and I don't know what to do. My kids' dad is trying to get on SSI to get himself more help and so he won't have to pay child support. I'm just worried where I'm supposed to go from here. I am a single mom raising three kids.


July 27, 20170 found this helpful

Is your child support paid through the court? Hopefully that is the case and Social Security will work with the court per child support is concerned.
The first thing I would suggest is to get all papers pertaining to your divorce and child support as well as everyone's Social Security numbers (including your ex-husbands) and pay a visit to your local Social Security office. Explain the situation to them so they will have all the information on their records even before the SSI is approved or disapproved. If your ex is in arrears with child support you also need proof of this as that is the only way you may be able to receive any part of a delayed payment check that your ex may receive if his claim is approved (his claim starts when he first applied and if approved, he will receive a check for how ever many months he waited for approval). This is sometimes a large check but if he is up to date on child support then none of that will be yours but if he is behind in payments, you can get SS to pay at least part of those arrears from that check. But, you must have proof of payments and non-payments.
Gather all your records (or go without some and find them later) and go to the SS office ASAP.

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October 10, 20171 found this helpful

You cannot get any of his SSI benefits. SSI is not counted as is granted to those that haven't had enough work time in to get disability. Disability is an income, SSI is not. Also if he actually gets SSI benefits realize that he is truly disabled, not faking

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May 4, 20180 found this helpful

Does this apply in Texas as well?

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March 28, 2017

I have an ex who filed for child support. I know she can't get anything because I get SSI. But they made me take a DNA test for two kids. If one of the kids ain't mine are they going to make me pay for the DNA test for the kid that ain't mine and for the kids that is mine due to me getting SSI?


March 29, 20170 found this helpful

I would assume the government is paying for the test. I know that people who have to take drug tests prior to employment don't pay; the employer pays.

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March 29, 20170 found this helpful

When they are ordering it and having you do it, you are not liable for the expense.

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March 30, 20170 found this helpful

You do not say who "they" happens to be so we cannot say whether you will have to pay or not. You should have received a paper showing your responsibility for payment (or non-payment) when you were "made" to have this done.
There must be a reason your ex is having this done but it is true that child support cannot be taken out of SSI (but can be taken out of SSD).
You need to talk to whoever "made" you do this for your answer (someone other than your ex).

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June 2, 2016

My children's father just recently went and filed something that stated that he is not ordered to pay child support to me anymore due to him receiving SSI. He has paid in the past and it was a very small amount for 2 kids. I have done everything. I went to the child support office and now am being told that if I wanted to receive any type of support then I will need to hire an private attorney.

Is there something that can prevent the other spouse from paying child support for the kids due to this parent receiving Social Security income? Please help and steer me in the right direction. I don't get it. I have never seen a state send correspondence stating that the father is not responsible after the children are legitimized.


June 3, 20161 found this helpful

Only the Social Security Administration can answer your questions. You can make an appointment at your local SSA office to address your questions.

If your husband is not able to work and is receiving benefits from SSI, the child support payments should be deducted from his benefit and paid to you for your children. You should check with SSA for answers.

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September 24, 20171 found this helpful

Federal law states..anyone whim receives SSI does not pay child support..or arrears and cannot be garnished for either..and all licences and passports ECT. Are cleared to be reinstated..don't post fyi if you don't know the fkn answers dumbass!$

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February 10, 20180 found this helpful

Not with SSI no. With SSDI yes that is what should happen. But SSI? Definitely not. The max payment on a monthly basis for SSI is 750. Thats what they have to live on. You cannot work and recieve SSI at the same time and if receiving it you have proved you have a disability. So if he is indeed on SSI and not SSDI then his wages cannot be garnished for child support or any reason actually.

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ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

February 23, 2011

My ex husband and I have been divorced for three years. After the split he filed for SSI with a claim of mental health issues resulting from my leaving, and he got approved.

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