Benefits Paid to Children

Benefits payable to the children can affect the child support award. Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure 1910.16-2(b) discusses the treatment of public assistance, SSI benefits, certain Social Security payments and foster care payments in regard to calculation of support. Per sub-section (1) public assistance and SSI payments cannot be considered. SSI is a federal means-tested benefit. It operates as more of a welfare benefit similar to public assistance. Examples of public assistance include cash assistance or food stamps. Sub-section (2) addresses social security derivative payments for children. Any social security benefit as a result of a parent’s death, disability or retirement should be addressed in the child support calculation. It should be added to the income of the party receiving the benefit.

Foster care payments are discussed in sub-section (3). Any payments received by the foster parent should not be included as part of their income in any other support matter. The rules for which benefits payable to children should be included in a support award parallel the rules for the parents. For example, Social Security disability (SSD) benefits received by the parents are counted as income for the party receiving it. The disability payments are meant to replace the income the recipient would have received if they had not become disabled. In contrast, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is not meant to replace lost earnings but instead to provide some income to disabled people who would otherwise be poverty-stricken and accordingly is not classified as income for calculating a support award.

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