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SSDI dependent benefits

Social Security Dependent Benefits in Dispute When Setting Child Support

Published
Categorized as Child Support, Child Support Modification

Ever wonder how the courts deal with Social Security dependent benefits received by a minor child when parents divorce? The payment of social security dependent benefits can become a point of contention when parents are no longer together and child support is in question. Recently, the Third District Appellate Court in Illinois ruled on this very issue and held that Social Security disability benefits are to be paid to the parent, for the support of that minor child who has the minor child in their care.

Minor Child Entitled to Social Security Dependent Benefits When Parent is Disabled

In the case of Benyon and Benyon, (2019 Ill App 3d 180364) the parties were divorced in January of 2018 and awarded shared custody of their minor child. The husband had a disability and the minor child was entitled to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) dependent benefits based on that disability. In the divorce, the court did not order either parent to pay the other child support and did not consider the child’s SSDI dependent benefits as part of the husband’s gross income.

The Trial Court held that the child’s needs were met by the parents’ income. Because of this, the Court ordered that the SSDI dependent benefits be placed in a joint account to be used for the child’s “excess expenses” such as childcare, education, medical and extracurricular activities. Any portion of the monthly SSDI dependent benefit that was not used for excess expenses was ordered to be saved for the child and any expenses in excess of the monthly SSDI dependent benefits were to be divided equally between the parties.

The husband filed an appeal asking the Appellate Court to reverse the Trial Court’s decision asking that the minor child’s SSDI dependent benefits be included in the calculation of his gross income. The husband wanted to retain the total SSDI dependent benefits for his use to pay his 50% obligation towards the minor child’s expenses.

SSDI Dependent Benefits Included in Gross Income for Child Support

The Appellate Court found that SSDI dependent benefits are generated through the labor and earnings of a worker for the purposes of supporting dependent children if the worker is ever unable to do so [In re Marriage of Henry, 156 Ill. 2d 541). Under the Code of Federal Regulations (20 C.F.R. 404.2040(a)], the SSDI dependent benefit is intended for the current maintenance of a dependent child. In addition, the Illinois Child Support Guidelines that went into effect July 1, 2017, the SSDI dependent benefit was specifically required to be included in the benefit-generating parent’s gross income when the court determines child support.

SSDI Benefits To Be Used for Current Support of a Dependent Child

Conclusion: The Court is required to consider the SSDI benefit payments received by a child as income to the disabled parent who generated the benefit through their labor and earnings. There is no authority for the Court to order that the SSDI dependent benefits be put into an account for future needs. The SSDI dependent benefit is to be used for the current support of a dependent child. The Trial Court’s decision was reversed and the SSDI dependent benefit was paid to the father for the support of his dependent child.

Seek Advice from an Experienced Family Law Attorney

At Anderson & Boback, we’re passionate about solving complex family law issues for our clients and their families in Chicago and the greater Chicagoland area. Contact us today for a confidential consultation when you have questions or concerns about child support matters especially when social security dependent benefits are involved.

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