New Jersey law requires both parents to provide child support, which is calculated under the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines (CSG). Child support obligations for most middle income couples are generally based on the income of each party, the alimony one party may pay to the other, and the amount of overnights each party spends with the child or children per year. For parents receiving Supplemental Security Income or Social Security Disability payments, child support become a bit more complicated:
- Supplemental security income (“SSI”) is a government benefit for disabled and disadvantaged individuals that provides additional help to low income persons who qualify (it does not replace lost income).
- Social security disability (“SSDI”) is funded from payroll deductions during the working life of the individual and replaces lost income should s/he become work disabled.
The Social Security Administration requires recipients of either type of benefit to qualify as “disabled” as defined by law in 20 C.F.R. §404.1505. The definition includes these elements:
- Inability to do any substantial gainful activity (employment)
- Due to a medically determinable impairment (physical or mental)
- Which can result in death or last for a continuous period of at least 12 months.
New Jersey does not consider supplemental security as “income” for purposes of child support calculations, unless “the parent is earning or has the ability to earn additional income.” Burns v. Edwards, 367 N.J. Super. 29 (App. Div. 2004).
The Burns court did say that SSDI should be considered “income” and subject to child support obligations because it represents “money which an employee has earned during his or her employment and also that which his or her employer has paid for the employee’s benefit into a common trust fund under the Social Security Act.”
In sum, disabled persons in New Jersey with child support obligations:
- Generally DO NOT have to contribute from SSI and
- DO have to pay from SSDI.
Changed facts and circumstances will affect the analysis and calculation of ongoing obligations. For example, the child support obligation for a disabled parent might be “$0” if their minor children are already receiving auxiliary benefits under SSD that exceed the amount of child support owed (see the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines).
An experienced New Jersey child support lawyer can help you navigate these complex waters and come up with the best possible outcome for your children and you. Call the divorce and family lawyers at Hanan M. Isaacs, P. C., at 609-683-7400, or contact us online, to arrange for a near-term and reduced fee initial consultation at our Central Jersey law offices in Kingston, NJ. We will listen to your facts, explain the law, and help your children and you create a pathway to economic and social justice. Call today. You will be glad you did.