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How Does SSDI Affect My Child Support Order?

If you have recently become eligible for SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance), it is likely that your minor child is also receiving a “Dependency Benefit”:  his or her own monthly benefit from the Social Security Administration (SSA).  The question is how this will affect your financial obligation in terms of child support?  In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, it can make a big difference.

In the past I’ve discussed how to modify Child Support Orders.  In that post, I pointed out that to modify the order, the court will need to see that a significant change in material circumstances has occurred.  Becoming eligible for SSDI is exactly the type of change I was referring to.  In fact, the benefit your child receives might even completely cancel out your weekly child support payments!

Consider what a Child Support Order is really for:  to ensure that your child is financially supported.  That the support is coming in is what counts.  If the Dependency Benefit your child receives is as much or more* than the amount you should be paying under the support guidelines, there’s little reason for you to be paying additional money above and beyond that.  By bringing your SSDI benefit (and your child’s corresponding Dependency Benefit) to the attention of the court, you may be able to substantially decrease, if not eliminate entirely, your weekly obligation.

*Note that where the Dependency Benefit is greater than the amount owed under the guidelines, your child will continue to receive the full benefit, and you will not be entitled to the difference between these amounts.

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