ENFORCEMENT OF SUPPORT OBLIGATION

CS 852P Child Receiving Benefits Based on the Non-Custodial Parent’s Social Security or Veterans Benefits

01/88 Revised 06/01/18 Training Completed 10/05/16

U.C.A. 78A-6-1106, 78B-12-203

 

 

Statutory Authority

 

U.C.A. 78B-12-203 states:

“(9)(b) Social Security benefits received by a child due to the earnings of a parent shall be credited as child support to the parent upon whose earning record it is based, by crediting the amount against the potential obligation of that parent. Other unearned income of a child may be considered as income to a parent depending upon the circumstances of each case.”

 

 

Definitions

 

1.                   Means-tested income - Government programs that require the recipient to meet certain income levels to qualify for the benefit.  Means-tested programs include, but are not limited to:

a.                   IV-A services;

b.                  Supplemental Security Income (SSI);

c.                   Medicaid;

d.                  Food Stamps;

e.                  General Assistance;

f.                    Benefits received under a housing subsidy; and,

g.                   The Job Training Partnership Act.

 

2.                   Social Security Retirement (SSA) - Paid to individuals who are at least 62 years old and have worked enough hours to earn the social security credits needed to qualify for retirement benefits under Title II.  Members of the qualified individual's family may be eligible for retirement benefits and survivors' benefits.

 

3.                   Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) - Paid to individuals who have a physical or mental impairment that is expected to prevent them from doing “substantial” work for a year or more, or who have a condition that is expected to result in death, and who have worked enough hours to earn the social security credits needed to qualify for SSDI under Title II.  Substantial work is generally considered earnings of $500.00 or more per month.  SSDI is not a means-tested program.

 

4.                   The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Benefits –

a.                   VA pension benefits:  VA pension benefits are considered “gratuities of Congress” and are considered means-tested.  A person receiving a VA pension benefit has been deemed unable to work.  The amount of the pension is slightly above the poverty level and if the recipient earns over $800.00 in income, he/she is no longer eligible to receive the pension. The VA pension is considered separate from the VA retirement. 

b.                  VA retirement income:  VA retirement income is not considered means-tested. 

c.                   VA disability benefits:  VA disability benefits are based upon the respondent’s actual disability and are not considered means-tested. A VA disability benefit is paid when a person is disabled, and the amount paid is determined by the percentage of the person’s disability.  The VA disability benefit is paid to a recipient no matter how much extra income the recipient earns.

 

 

Procedures:  Giving Child Support Credit on an Existing Order When Child Receives Benefits Based on Non-custodial Parent’s Social Security or Disability Benefits

 

Situations will arise in which a child is receiving social security benefits based on the NCP's Social Security Retirement (SSA) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) claim.  There are no specific alerts related to the child receiving Social Security benefits based on the NCP’s social security benefits.  The SSA/SSDI benefit check is usually forwarded to the child's custodial parent (CP).  However, on Children in Care (CIC) cases, the State (i.e., Division of Juvenile Justice Services (DJJS), Office of Recovery Services (ORS), Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS), etc.) will apply to become the payee of the benefits while a child is in care.

 

NOTE 1:  As of July 1, 2013, DJJS became the payee of benefits paid while a child is in their care.  DJJS will send a monthly report to a designated ORS/CIC person (the Regional Director (RD) and Associate Regional Director (ARD)) that consists of a list of all social security cases and their case status.  The RD/ARD will file the report.  CIC case workers are responsible to review this report monthly and apply any credits to the appropriate case(s).

 

When a child is placed in a foster care placement with DCFS, it is the responsibility of DCFS to apply to become payee of the child’s benefit.  DCFS provides a report in SAFE (DCFS’s statewide automated child welfare information system (SACWIS)) that can be accessed by CIC workers to determine if a credit should be given.

 

NOTE 2:  Do not give the NCP credit for SSI benefits that are received by the child based upon the child’s disability.

 

NOTE 3:  When a child receives SSA benefits based on a parent’s death, do not give the living parent credit against his/her current support obligation for the SSA benefit paid each month, since the child receives the SSA benefits based on the death of the OTHER parent.

 

If the NCP’s child support order specifies that the monthly SSA/SSDI benefits paid for the child meet the NCP’s monthly child support obligation for that child, ORS will consider the NCP’s monthly obligation fulfilled as long as benefits are being paid.  There is no obligation to enforce, so take one of the following steps:   

 

1.                   Child Support Services (CSS) cases:  Close the case.

 

2.                   Children in Care (CIC) cases:  Monitor these cases as long as the child remains in state custody.

 

If the child support order does not address social security benefits and the child is receiving benefits based on the NCP’s SSA or SSDI claim, CSS will give credit towards the NCP’s current support obligation for the child’s portion of the benefit paid each month.  Credit is calculated as follows:

 

1.                   If the monthly social security benefits paid on behalf of the child are for more than the current support obligation, give credit only for the monthly amount of the current support obligation.

 

EXAMPLE:  The NCP is ordered to pay child support of $200.00 per month.  The child is receiving an SSDI benefit of $300.00 per month based on the NCP’s disability.  Credit $200.00 of the monthly benefit toward the monthly child support obligation by zeroing out the current support debt on ORSIS.      

 

2.                   If the benefits are less than the ordered support, give credit up to the monthly benefit amount and charge on ORSIS the difference between the monthly child support amount and the benefit amount.  If the NCP has an attachable source of income, collect the difference through income withholding or other means.  If the NCP has no source of income, the unpaid difference accrues as an arrears balance.

 

EXAMPLE:  The NCP is ordered to pay child support of $200.00 per month.  The child is receiving an SSDI benefit of $150.00 per month based on the NCP’s disability.  Charge the difference of $50.00 per month and change the current support debt to $50.00 on ORSIS.  If the NCP does not pay the $50.00 difference each month, it accrues as an arrears balance.

 

3.                   If the child is receiving IV-A cash assistance, IV-A policy indicates the parent/recipient must receive the benefit check, and the grant will be reduced accordingly.  Therefore, do not instruct the CP to turn the benefit checks over to CSS to meet the NCP’s child support obligation.

 

4.                   If both parents are disabled and receiving benefits, give credit to the parent whose earnings the child’s benefit is based on.  Although a child may be entitled to social security benefits from both parents (“dual entitlement”), the benefit actually received by the child is always based on the earnings of one parent. 

 

EXAMPLE:  The father’s monthly child support obligation is $20.00 and the mother’s child support obligation is $20.00.  The child (a child in state custody or with a specified relative) is receiving an SSDI benefit of $110.00 per month based on the mother’s disability.  “Credit” the monthly benefit towards the mother’s monthly child support obligation leaving a $0.00 obligation for her.  The father’s monthly obligation remains $20.00.

 

5.                   If the child receives a lump-sum payment for retroactive SSA or SSDI benefits, the credit given depends on whether the case is a CSS case or a CIC case, and on who actually receives the benefit payment (the payee).

a.                   CSS case, CP is the payee:  Apply the payment equally to the months for which the benefits were paid up to the monthly ordered child support amount.  If the lump-sum payment exceeds the totaled monthly child support amount for each month within the retroactive period, the remaining credit may be applied to the NCP's arrears balance owing to the CP.  

 

Case Facts:  The NCP is ordered to pay child support of $200.00 per month.  The child is receiving an SSDI benefit based on the NCP’s disability.  The NCP has not made current support payments on the case for the retroactive SSDI benefit period.

 

EXAMPLE 1:  The CP received a retroactive check for $1200.00 in November for the months of January through June.  Credit $200.00 per month for the months of January through June. 

 

EXAMPLE 2:  The CP received a retroactive check for $600.00 in November for the months of January through June.  Credit $100.00 per month for the months of January through June. 

 

EXAMPLE 3:  The CP received a retroactive check for $2000.00 in November for the months of January through June.  Credit the ordered amount of $200.00 per month for January through June.  Credit the remaining $800 o the NCP’s arrears owed to the CP even though they accrued outside of the benefit period.

 

b.                  CIC case, the other parent (not the SSA/SSDI recipient) is the payee:  Apply the payment equally to the months for which the benefits were paid up to the monthly ordered child support amount. (See #5 above.)  Do not attempt to collect the retained Social Security from the payee. 

 

EXAMPLE:  The father is ordered to pay child support of $200.00 per month.  The child is receiving an SSA benefit of $300.00 per month based on the father’s disability.  The mother receives a retroactive check for the child’s portion of the benefits for $1200.00 in November for the months of January through June.  The child has been in juvenile justice custody since January.  Apply the credit toward the father’s arrears debt for January through June.  Do not collect the retained social security from the mother.

 

c.                   CIC case, the NCP (who is also the SSA/SSDI recipient) is the payee:  Do not give credit for the months covered by the retroactive benefits.  The child’s social security benefit should have gone to the state and the NCP still owes the state for those months.

 

EXAMPLE:  The father is ordered to pay child support of $200.00 per month.  The child is receiving an SSA benefit of $300.00 per month based on the father’s disability.  The father receives a retroactive check for the child’s portion of the benefits for $1200.00 in November for the months of January through June.  The child has been in juvenile justice custody since January.  Do not give credit against the father’s arrears because the child was in care during the months the retroactive benefit applied, and technically, ORS/CIC should have been the recipient of the $1200.00.     

 

 

CIC Procedures:  State as the Payee While Child in Care

 

If the child is in state custody, a state agency must apply to be the payee of any social security benefits owed to the child.  The procedures for collecting and giving credit for those benefits differs based on the agency that has custody of the child.  DCFS is the designated agency to apply for and become the payee of social security benefits for children in their custody, and as of July 1, 2013, DJJS is the designated agency to apply for and become the payee of social security benefits for children in their custody.

 

NOTE:  The ongoing child support amount due is adjusted to credit the benefit amount received by DCFS.  This credit is only given to the parent whose child the social security benefit is based upon.

 

If the State has not become payee of the child’s benefit and the parent whose earnings the child’s benefit is based on is receiving the child’s benefit, do not give credit as child support payments received until the State (either DJJS or DCFS) is the payee of the child’s benefit.

 

EXAMPLE:  The mother is ordered to pay child support in the amount of $150.00 per month.  The child is receiving SSA benefits based on the mother’s earnings in the amount of $75.00 per month.  The child went into DJJS custody on August 1, but DJJS did not become payee of the child’s benefits until November 1.  The mother received the child’s benefit for August, September, and October.  The mother would not receive the social security credit until November 1, and she would be charged the full $150.00 per month for August through October.

 

If the other parent (not the SSA/SSDI recipient) is the payee of the child’s benefit before DJJS or DCFS becomes the payee, give the credit.  Do not collect retained social security from the other parent.

 

EXAMPLE:  The mother is ordered to pay child support in the amount of $150.00 per month.  The child is receiving SSA benefits based on the other’s earnings in the amount of $75.00 per month.  The child went to DJJS custody on August 1, but DJJS did not become payee of the child’s benefits until November 1.  The father received the child’s benefit for August, September, and October.  The mother would receive the social security credit effective August.

 

Once the CIC agent has made all of the necessary adjustments to the ongoing support debt to credit the social security benefits and completed any appropriate enforcement actions if a debt remains due for current support, place the case in the designated file cabinet (consult your manager for the location on your team).  Write a SELF alert to review the case every January to see if the social security benefit amount has changed and make any necessary adjustments to the ORSIS case.

 

 

CIC:  Refunding Retained SSA

 

ORS/CIC no longer collects retained SSA benefits.  If a collection agent reviews a case and the existing administrative order includes retained SSA benefits, refund the money that has applied to the retained SSA debt(s) if the arrears and current support have been paid in full.  Send the Social Security Not Collected letters to notify both Social Security and the obligor of the refund.  If the respondent(s) has not paid money towards the retained SSA, adjust the debt(s) appropriately to exclude the retained SSA.   

 

 

Child Receiving Benefits Based on NCP’s Veterans Affairs Benefits

 

The NCP’s child(ren) may be entitled to VA benefits based on the NCP’s military disability or pension.  The VA refers to these benefits as “apportionments.”  The CP or guardian (e.g., specified relative) of the child(ren) must apply for the child(ren)’s apportionments.  However, the NCP is still obligated to pay child support as ordered.  If the order declares the child(ren)’s VA benefits are in lieu of child support or counts toward child support, give the NCP the appropriate credit.