Jun 18, 2015

Recent Change to Child Support Rules with Regard to Social Security Payments for Children

On July 1, 2015, the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure will change with regard to the treatment of social security payments for a child or children and the calculation of child support.

To encourage the payment of the social security derivative benefit into the household where the child is primarily residing and to the household receiving child support, the Rule was changed. Now, the social security benefit will be added to the income of the party receiving the benefit and then the basic child support is apportioned between the parents/guardians according to their incomes. If the benefit is being paid to the child support recipient, the amount of the child’s benefit will be deducted from the basic support obligation of the party whose retirement or disability created the benefit. The purpose of the rule change is to increase the resources available to the child/children.

Prior to the amendment, the amount of the social security benefits paid on behalf of a child due to a parent’s death, disability or retirement were added to the parents’ combined incomes to determine the appropriate basic child support obligation. After determining the basic monthly child support, the derivative benefit would be subtracted from that amount and the balance was apportioned between the parents/guardians according to their proportion of their combined income. In cases where the parent/guardian who had custody of the child or children and was receiving child support but was not receiving the social security derivative benefit for the child, this method of calculating child support did not serve the best interests of the child, because the child was not receiving the appropriate child support or the social security derivative benefit.

If child support and social security payments to children are an issue for you or someone you know, legal advice should be sought regarding the appropriate calculation of child support, in light of this rule change. Current charging child support orders will not modify automatically by the rule change but would require the filing of a support modification petition.

Author: Judy Hayman

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