Social Security Disability Payments Reduce Child Support Obligations and Arrears

A father’s social security disability (SSD) payments are not “public assistance” and, therefore, are to be included as income in calculating child support under Child Support Guidelines. In re Marriage of Callaghan, 869 P.2d 240, 19 Kan.App.2d 335 (1994).

Where a parent with child support obligations becomes disabled, disability benefits may be payable for the disability recipient’s minor children. Those payments, normally made to the child’s residential custodian, can be credited against the disabled parent’s child support obligation, thus reducing that parent’s support costs.

In a recent decision, the Kansas Court of Appeals has applied this rule to lump-sum retroactive benefits paid to the custodial parent during a waiting period following qualification for disability benefits, at least to the extent of any arrearage which built up during the waiting period.

In a case entitled In re Marriage of Hohmann (March 16, 2012, No. 105,152), following the rationale of the 1975 decision in Andler v Andler, the court credited the lump sum payments made to the children’s mother to discharge the disabled father’s obligation for child support he had failed to pay during the waiting period following the disability determination.  The Court stated that if the children’s benefit was more than the unpaid child support accruing during the waiting period (i.e., if the father had paid part or all of his child support obligation despite his disability), any excess amount would be regarded as a gift to the children.

In Andler v. Andler, 217 Kan. 538, 544, 538 P.2d 649 (1975), the Kansas Supreme Court ruled that SSI payments to a child by reason of a parent’s disability should be credited toward satisfaction of child support payments:

“[W]here a father who has been ordered to make child support payments becomes totally and permanently disabled, and unconditional Social Security payments for the benefit of the minor children are paid to the divorced mother, the father is entitled to credit for such payments by the government against his liability for child support under the divorce decree.”

However, social security survivors’ benefits as result of biological father’s death were not attributable to adoptive father and, therefore, upon his divorce from their mother, could not be credited to reduce his child support obligation. Duty to support a child is not relieved because of payments received by child which are in no way attributable to the obligated parent. Social security survivors’ benefits that child received as result of death of biological father also were not “income” to mother for determining adoptive father’s child support obligation upon divorce. In re Marriage of Beacham, 19 Kan.App.2d 271, 867 P.2d 1071 (1994).

About Brad Short

CEO : Bradley Software; Of Counsel at Short, Borth & Thilges, Attorneys at Law, LLC, Overland Park, Kansas. Born Birmingham, Alabama, December 27, 1941; admitted to bar,1966, Kansas and U.S. District Court, District of Kansas; 1975, U.S. Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit; 1976, U.S. Supreme Court. Education: University of Colorado (B.A., 1963; J.D., 1966). Contributing Author, Practitioner's Guide to Kansas Family Law, Kansas Bar Association, 1997. Listed in: The Best Lawyers in America, Family Law, every year from 1987 through 2013. Member, Technology Advisory Committee, Kansas Judicial Council, 1991-1998. Member: Bourbon County, 1966-1977 (President, 1970-1971), Johnson County (Member: Ethics and Grievance Committee, 1984-1998; Family Law Bench/Bar Committee, 1984-), Kansas and American (Vice-Chair, Solo Practitioners and Small Firms Committee, Economics of Law Practice Section, 1984-1985) Bar Associations; Kansas Trial Lawyers Association, 1974-1984 (State Treasurer, 1975-76; Member, Board of Governors, 1974-1984). Fellow, American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, 1994-2013 . Practice areas: Family Law.
This entry was posted in Child Support, Child Support Guidelines, Family Law. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Social Security Disability Payments Reduce Child Support Obligations and Arrears

  1. Kenny Allen says:

    thank you! very helpful information. just what i thought would make sense.

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