Child Support and Social Security

Child support is based on the needs of the child and the incomes of the parents. What happens when a parent or a child receives Social Security? Does it count for child support?

Our Charlotte family law attorney at Remington & Dixon PLLC explains child support and Social Security in North Carolina.

Can a spouse get child support if the other parent is on disability?

Yes, it is possible for a spouse to get child support if the other is on disability. Government disability and private disability insurance payments are considered income for calculating child support payments. However, Supplemental Security Income is not considered income and may not be claimed for child support.

Does North Carolina count SSDI as income for child support?

Social Security Disability Insurance payments count as income for child support in North Carolina. The North Carolina child support guidelines state that gross income includes “disability pay and insurance benefits.” These benefits may be public, through the SSDI system, or received through a private insurance policy.

Why does disability count as income for child support?

Disability counts as income for child support because it replaces income that a person would receive through working. The Social Security Disability insurance program awards disability benefits based on work history. Disability payments are seen as a benefit of working and replacement income available to pay child support.

Does North Carolina count SSI payments as income for child support?

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is excluded from income for calculating child support. The purpose of SSI is to ensure that a person with special needs has the resources to meet their basic needs. Therefore, money that a person receives through the SSI program is not considered income that may be taken for child support.

The North Carolina child support guidelines state that Supplemental Security Income is “specifically excluded” from gross income used to calculate child support.

Can SSDI be garnished for child support payments?

Yes, SSDI can be garnished for child support payments. The Office of Child Support Services, under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, authorizes the garnishment of Social Security disability insurance benefits.

42 U.S.C. § 659 states consent by the United States to garnishment of certain payments for child support obligations. The law discusses benefits subject to legal process. Periodic benefits payable under the SSDI system are included in the types of benefits that are subject to process.

Can SSI be garnished for monthly child support payments?

SSI payments cannot be garnished for monthly child support payments. 5 C.F.R. § 581.104(j) states that SSI payments made under the Social Security Act may not be garnished.

Can SSI be garnished as part of child support arrears?

No. Even when there are child support arrears, SSI cannot be garnished.

Are Social Security benefits paid for a child counted as income for determining child support?

If a parent receives Social Security benefits for a child because of a disability, the funds are counted as the parent’s income for the purposes of determining child support. If the funds are claimed with the earnings record of one parent but paid directly to the other parent, the funds are deductible from the child support obligation.

If the funds received based on the parent’s work history exceed the parent’s child support obligation, there is usually no child support order entered. The court would have to deviate from the formula to enter an order in that case.

What if the stepmother or stepfather receives disability benefits? Is it income for child support?

In North Carolina, only the income of the legal parents counts for determining child support. If a stepmother or stepfather receives Social Security benefits, the funds are not considered income available to support the step-child. The benefits are not considered in a child support calculation.

A parent’s employer pays premiums for disability insurance. Does the amount of the premium count as the parent’s income in North Carolina?

No. In North Carolina, amounts paid directly by an employer for an employee’s disability insurance that is not withheld or deducted from the parent’s wages do not count as income for determining child support.

Social Security and Child Support Calculations in North Carolina

Remember that Social Security income received by a parent is only part of the child support calculation in North Carolina. There are many factors involved in determining a support obligation.

Generally, gross income includes income from any source unless it is specifically excluded.

Several types of needs-based programs are excluded, including food benefits.

The court may consider a parent’s voluntary unemployment or self-employment that produces an unreported income. A court may deviate from the guidelines with a finding that the guidelines would not meet or would exceed the reasonable needs of the child. The court must consider the relative ability of each parent to provide support considering all the circumstances. Either party may present relevant information to the court for its determination of an appropriate child support award.

Talk to a Family Law Attorney in Charlotte

If a parent receives Social Security, it may impact a child support award. To talk to a lawyer about the specifics of your child support case, we invite you to contact us at Remington & Dixon.


Are consultations free?

While we offer a free consultation on traffic matters, criminal matters, and most professional license defense cases, we charge a fee for family law consultations to personalize our consultations to your specific needs. To learn about our fee structure, please get in touch.

Where can I get legal advice?

We recommend meeting with an attorney. While there is free legal help available for North Carolina residents from pro bono resources for civil matters, and public defenders for criminal cases, the best way to access tailored advice is to hire a lawyer.

Can I hire you if I’m in another state?

This is done on a case by case basis if you are involved in a family law, criminal, or professional disciplinary matter that involves another jurisdiction.



"*" indicates required fields

With a Consultation

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.