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Social Security benefits can be lost to child support arrears

Social Security is a financial lifeline that is indispensable to millions of people nationwide, including in Kentucky. It typically forms a significant part of the monthly incomes of countless retirees. Although this may be a guaranteed source of income, it is not untouchable. Individuals who default on federal student loans, federal income tax, alimony and child support may result in Social Security benefits being garnished.

Delinquencies of spousal and child support are handled by the national Court Ordered Garnishment System. A person who defaults on court ordered support payments may be affected in this way. The amount that will be garnished could be based upon the state guidelines or the Consumer Credit Protection Act, whichever is the lowest.

If the CCPA is used to determine the amount, it will depend on several matters. If the person supports an additional child or spouse to the one on the court order, up to 50 percent of Social Security benefits can be garnished. However, if the support in arrears is only for the person on the court order, it could be as much as 60 percent. Furthermore, the garnished amount can be as high as 65 percent if payments of the original court ordered amount are in arrears for over 12 weeks.

A parent who can no longer afford to pay court-ordered spousal or child support due to changed circumstances may petition the court for modification of the amount. An experienced Kentucky family law attorney can explain the available options to such a parent or ex-spouse. The lawyer can also assess the circumstances and determine whether the changes are significant enough to justify modification, and then provide the necessary support and guidance every step of the ensuing legal proceedings.

Source:, "3 Ways Social Security Benefits Can Be Garnished", Sean Williams, Dec. 2, 2017

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