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Can Disabled People Be Forced to Pay Child Support?


There are different types of disability, including permanent disability and temporary disability. Depending on your situation, a spouse may not be required to pay child support if they cannot afford to pay it. The spouse is entitled to survive and disability is a valid reason for unemployment or underemployment. However, not all types of disability are made equally.

Essentially, there are certain types of income that are difficult to get access to. Payments made by SSI or SSDI are among those. However, employees who are collecting workers’ compensation, have private disability insurance or have income that does not come from a government program, those funds are accessible. Below, we’ll discuss how that works.

Understanding SSI and SSDI 

In order to qualify for SSI or SSDI, there is a presumption that you are disabled and that this disability reduces or prevents you from working. In other words, there is a presumption that you not only can’t work, but you don’t have any other way to support yourself. Typically, these checks are not large and represent a tiny fraction of what would be considered a living income. So, there tends not to be money to draw and no way to either extract more money or compel the spouse to earn more.

Also, there is a difference between SSI and SSD. Those on SSD have paid into the social security program and are entitled to receive a percentage of their previous earnings. That means that they are likely to have more money than someone who is on SSI. Ultimately, a determination will be made based on what the parent can afford to pay. SSI pays about $800 a month, so there isn’t usually any money left over.

Other types of disability 

There are other types of disability that would not be considered protected income. These include workers’ compensation payments, ERISA disability benefits, long-term disability benefits, short-term disability benefits, and other programs that are typically provided by employers or purchased as insurance policies by individuals. Such disability policies are not protected from child support payments.

However, individuals who are on disability likely aren’t earning as much money as they otherwise would and the court will consider what their payments will be based on their current income.

Considering your options 

An order of child support can be placed against anyone regardless of their income. The individual would then have to petition the court with evidence that their finances cannot support the order. If they have evidence from SSI or SSD, then there may be little that a parent can do to force the other parent to pay. However, there may be public support options available when all other remedies are exhausted. This may be of little comfort, but you can’t draw blood from a stone.

Talk to a Philadelphia Family Court Lawyer Today 

Lauren H. Kane represents the interests of Philadelphia residents who are seeking child support. Call our Philadelphia family lawyers today to schedule an appointment and we can discuss your options immediately.

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