Can Social Security Be Garnished for Child Support Arrears?

Can Social Security be Garnished for Child Support Arrears?

By: Gordon & Perlut, LLC

If you are required to pay child support and owe arrears, you may be wondering whether your wages, bank accounts, or even Social Security can be garnished to pay the child support you owe. Or, on the flip side, you may be trying to enforce a child support order against your ex who has not paid child support in quite some time. You might be trying to determine whether or not your ex’s Social Security can be garnished to pay child support arrears.

Although Social Security payments made through the Social Security Administration (SSA) typically are not eligible to be garnished—such as in situations where a person owes a debt to a credit card company, for example—child support arrears and other forms of family support are treated differently.

To be clear, Social Security benefits can be garnished in order to enforce a child support obligation, and in some cases can be garnished to pay child support arrears. Our Chicago area child support lawyers can say more.

Social Security Benefits After Retirement and SSDI Benefits Can Be Garnished

The SSA makes clear that it can “withhold Social Security benefits to enforce your legal obligation to pay child support, alimony, or restitution.” The garnishment order, however, will come through an Illinois court and not through the SSA. If you owe child support arrears, or if you want to move forward with a child support collections case, you should know that Social Security benefits can be garnished in order to ensure that a child support obligation is paid.

However, not all types of Social Security benefits can be subject to garnishment. If a person receives Social Security benefits following retirement, those benefits can be garnished if the person receiving those Social Security benefits owes child support.

Similarly, if a parent receives Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits as a result of suffering a debilitating illness or injury, it is important to know that SSDI benefits can be garnished. Neither of these types of benefits is based on the low income of the recipient.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Benefits Cannot Be Garnished

While Social Security and SSDI benefits can be garnished, it is important to know that Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits cannot be garnished. While these benefits are paid by the SSA, they are based on the low income of the recipient and are designed to ensure that the disabled recipient has enough money to provide for necessities. As such, SSI benefits, even for child support arrears, will not be subject to a garnishment order.

Retroactive Adjustments of Social Security Benefits Cannot Be Made

Although Social Security can be garnished to ensure that a child support obligation is paid, it is important to understand that the SSA will not make any retroactive adjustments to Social Security benefits. Accordingly, only Social Security benefits from the point of the garnishment order forward can be garnished.

Contact Our Chicago Area Child Support Attorneys

If you have questions about child support collections, an experienced Chicago area child support lawyer at our firm can assist you. Contact Gordon & Perlut, LLC for more information.