Receiving Child Support Payments and its Impact
on Child’s SSI Benefits
William Lindahl, MBA, CLPF & Sara Toor, M.A
The Social Security Administration (SSA) defines child support payments as “a payment from a parent to meet the child’s needs for food and shelter. Child support can be in cash or in-kind; it can be voluntary or court ordered.” Child support payments are considered unearned income to the child who receives supplemental security income (SSI) benefits. For supplemental security income (SSI) purposes, according to the Social Security Act, a child is neither married, nor the head of a household and is either:
- under age 18, or
- under age 22 and a student regularly attending school, college, or training that is designed to prepare him or her for a paying job.
Currently, the Social Security Administration (SSA) excludes one-third of the child support payment amount an eligible child receives from an absent parent. The remaining two-thirds of the child support payment is countable income and may be used to reduce the supplemental security income benefit payment the child receives. The Social Security Administration (SSA) takes the remaining two-third amount and subtracts that amount from the current federal benefit rate.
Example: A child receives $300 monthly from an absent parent. The Social Security Administration excludes $100 (which is one-third) and the remaining $200 will be subtracted from $735 (2017 SSI federal benefit rate) which leaves $535 as countable income.
If food or shelter is received as in-kind child support the Social Security Administration (SSA) excludes one-third of the amount of child support the child receives in the form of food or shelter from an absent parent as income. The two-thirds that remain of the child support is in-kind support and maintenance (ISM) which is subject to the presumed maximum value (PMV).
Keep in mind, the Social Security Administration (SSA), considers any in-kind child support payment that is not for food or shelter, such as health insurance, not to be counted as income to the child.
For more information on how child support payments may impact your child’s benefits, how deeming may apply to your situation, and specific examples to help you understand the process the please visit the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) page regarding child support at
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