Derivative Benefits May Be Used To Meet Your Child Support Obligations

If you have been disabled and have been granted disability compensation, this payment is probably far less than you were used to living on prior to becoming disabled. Trying to live off of this reduced amount of income can present a financial hardship. This is especially true if you have child support obligations to meet on top of your everyday living expenses. Fortunately, your child/children may qualify for derivative benefits, and these payments may be used to offset your child support obligation.

What Are Derivative Benefits?

Under the rules of Social Security disability, there are several people who may be eligible to receive compensation off of the record of the worker who has been determined to be disabled. These people can be broken down into two basic categories.

  • The primary applicant who receives the primary benefit
  • Family members, including a spouse or children, who may qualify for auxiliary benefits

There is a subclass of the second category. Even if the couple is divorced, if the ex-spouse meets certain qualifications, or there are non-custodial children, they may be still be entitled to benefits, which are referred to as derivative benefits. 

Auxiliary, or derivative benefits are a percentage of the primary benefit. The amount your family members will be eligible for will be based on your employment record and contributions you have on file. 

What Child Qualifies For A Benefit?

For your child/children to qualify, they must meet the following criteria:

  • They must be under the age of 18, or be a full-time high school student under the age of 19
  • If they are over the age of 18, they themselves must have a disability which manifested prior to their 22nd birthday
  • They must be unmarried

Your dependent grandchildren may also qualify for a Social Security benefit, but only if they meet the following:

  • Their parents must be disabled or deceased
  • They must have lived with you for at least 12 months prior to you becoming disabled
  • You must have provided at least half of their support

It would be possible for your grandchild to qualify for a derivative benefit if they meet the above criteria and they are now living with your ex-spouse. 

How May A Derivative Benefit Impact Your Child Support Obligation?

If you are the non-custodial parent and you have been ordered to pay child support for your underage children, this may be reflected in a court order. This allows the court to help ensure these funds are paid to your children as ordered. If you are able to show the court your children are receiving a derivative benefit as a part of your Social Security disability claim, the court will know your children are receiving these funds automatically. Therefore, the court will probably allow you to use these payments to meet, or off-set, your obligation.

For example: If you are court ordered to pay $200 per month in child support for your non-custodial child, but your child is eligible for a $200 derivative benefit, the court may consider your obligation to be met. The court may even dismiss your court order, unless you have other conditions contained within your order that the court is concerned you may not meet.

On the other hand, If you have a $300 child support order, but your child is only eligible to receive $200, the court may give you credit for the $200, and reduce your court ordered obligation to $100.

What Is Required Of You To Ensure Your Child Receives The Benefit They Are Entitled To?

When you initially apply for your disability benefits, you will be asked about any children you have, and whether or not they live with you. It is important you list your children on your application and be truthful about their living situation. While you will be able to apply for benefits for the child/children living with you, the parent having primary custody must apply for benefits for children who reside outside of the home.

Your duty is to notify the parent with custody that you have been approved for Social Security disability and they are eligible to apply. This must be done as quickly as possible, as there is a very small window of time after your notification for them to apply.

If you have any questions about any derivative benefits your child/children may be entitled to, speak to a Social Security disability attorney. They will be able to review the details surrounding your specific case and give you advice. 

Click here to read more about the assistance a disability lawyer can give you.