Robert G. Smith, PLLC

Garnishing Social Security benefits for delinquent child support

Parents in New York who are not receiving court-ordered child support payments in a timely manner have a number of legal remedies available to them. If the parent required to make the payments is receiving certain types of Social Security benefits, it may be possible to have these benefits garnished. However, this does not apply to Supplemental Security Income. The government considers SSI to be a welfare benefit, and garnishments are not permitted.

Other Social Security benefits are paid to individuals based upon contributions that they have made during their working lives, and disability, retirement and survivor benefits can be garnished for delinquent child support. For this to happen, the parent receiving child support payments must provide their local Social Security office with an income withholding order. A judge will issue such an order when it can be demonstrated that a parent is not fulfilling their obligation to make child support payments.

Once the local Social Security office has been furnished with an income withholding order, the information will be added to their database. After this is done, up to 65 percent of benefits received by the noncustodial parent may be deducted to cover unpaid child support. In some situations, it may be possible to make this type of claim while an application for Social Security benefits is pending.

Disputes over unpaid child support sometimes become contentious, and parents who rely on this money to make ends meet often feel that they have few meaningful options available to them. An experienced family law attorney will likely be familiar with how frustrating the process can be, and they may work diligently to see that required child support payments are made. These efforts could include seeking an income withholding order to allow for the garnishment of a noncustodial parent's Social Security benefits or paycheck.

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