Can You Garnish Social Security Benefits to Collect Child Support?

Whether you can garnish Social Security benefits to collect child support depends on the kind of benefit being received.
Ordinarily, Social Security benefits cannot be garnished for any debt. But there is a limited exception that allows garnishment for child support purposes of one type of Social Security benefit, the old-age and disability benefit. Another kind of Social Security benefit - Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") - can't be garnished, even to collect child support.

There are two types of Social Security benefits. The first type consists of old-age and disability insurance benefits. This is what most people think of when they think of Social Security. The second type of Social Security benefit is SSI. SSI benefits are designed to help aged, blind, and disabled people who have little or no income. It provides cash to meet basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter.

Social Security benefits are funded by Social Security taxes. SSI, in contrast, is funded by general tax revenues. Social Security benefits are considered a substitute for income, while SSI is considered a supplement to income based on need.

Because of the different purposes of the two types of Social Security, and the different ways the two benefits are funded, Congress decided that Social Security benefits could be garnished for child support, but SSI cannot.

AddThis Feed Button