There are two types of social security benefits, namely SSI (supplemental security income), and SSDI (social security disability income). SSI is available to low-income individuals who most likely do not have a job or have not worked enough to qualify for SSDI. To qualify for SSI, you must have less than $2,000 in assets and a very limited income. On the other hand, SSDI is available to employees ages 65 or younger who have accumulated a certain amount of work credits and have paid Social Security taxes. If a party receives SSDI income, that party’s spouse and children are entitled to benefits which are called “auxiliary benefits” or “dependent benefits.” This is additional income every month to cover the SSDI recipient’s dependents.
Can social security benefits be garnished? The short answer is that SSI income cannot be garnished, because it is exempt from the IRS for child support. On the other hand, SSDI dependent benefits can fulfill and satisfy a payor’s child support obligation during the period of time that the recipient is receiving SSDI income and dependent benefits. A parent who receives SSI income cannot be ordered to pay child support on that income pursuant to the case of Lozada vs. Rivera. In that case, the court determined that Congress’ intent in providing SSI to low-income individuals was to satisfy that recipient’s minimum needs only. To order the recipient of SSI income to then pay child support and reduce their income even more would be greatly against public policy. The Court also determined that it would put a huge burden on the recipient of SSI income to live far below the minimum standard of living decided by Congress.