I recently had a prospective client contact my office looking to file for child support. In this case, mother was the primary caregiver and was not employed. The child’s father however, was collecting Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. Mother wanted to know if she could file for support and collect from father’s SSI benefits.
In Pennsylvania, public assistance and SSI benefits are not counted as income for purposes of determining support. Therefore, if a prospective support defendant’s only source of income is a form of public assistance, it is not considered income in the eyes of any county’s domestic relations office and a plaintiff will not be able to collect child support on that amount. However, if a parent is receiving Social Security benefits (as distinguished from SSI) that money is considered income for support purposes.
In addition, if the child is collecting Social Security benefits as a result of a parent’s retirement, death or disability, the benefits the child receives are added to the combined monthly net incomes of the parties to calculate the income available or support. If the parent receiving the child’s Social Security benefits is the obligor, that amount will be added to the obligor’s income and support is calculated based on his or her income plus the Social Security benefit.
If you, your co-parent, or your children are receiving any form of government benefit, it may have a significant impact on the amount of support the child is eligible to receive. Please consider contacting a family law attorney in my Pittsburgh legal practice, Gusty A.E. Sunseri & Associates, to see if any of these special circumstances apply to your case. The application of government benefits in support cases can be complex and if handled improperly, can impact a support order considerably.