Social Security Disability Benefits
The issue of social security disability benefits may arise in the context of a support action. Support actions in Pennsylvania are governed by a statewide guideline amount that correlates with the ability to pay. Ultimately, any support award will be based on the net incomes of the parties involved. Social security disability benefits are recognized as a source of income pursuant to Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure 1910.16-2. This is distinguishable from public assistance and supplemental security income (SSI) which are not included as income for purposes of support.
Where child support is being calculated and the child(ren) at issue are receiving their own social security benefit, the amount of their benefit also must be accounted for in the support calculation. PA RCP 1910.16-2(b) goes into detail about the treatment of benefits received by the children in the context of support. The child’s benefit should be added to the net income of the parents for determining what the basic child support award should be based on the state guidelines. The amount of child support based on the support guidelines is then reduced by the amount of the child’s benefit. After the reduction, the appropriate support award would be calculated after considering each parent’s share of the support obligation based on their income, as well as other relevant factors such as health insurance costs and custody.