Social Security benefits may count as income depending on the nature of the benefits be received. For that purpose, it is important to differentiate the types of Social Security benefits to ensure an appropriate support calculation. Social Security disability (SSD) benefits are counted as income. The disability payments are meant to replace the income the recipient would have received if they had not become disabled. Essentially, disability payments have been pre-paid by the recipient during their employment. Accordingly, the recipient must have a sufficient earnings history, or in other words have paid social security long enough, to be eligible for payments.
In addition to the recipient receiving a benefit, their children can also receive a derivative benefit. The derivative benefit can be set up to be paid directly to the primary custodian of the children if the recipient does not exercise primary custody. Disability payments are retroactive to the date the disability was established so there could be a lump sum payment initially. Both the amount received by the recipient and the amount on behalf of the children as a derivative benefit should be factored into in support calculation.
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Social Security income (SSI) is not be considered income for purposes of a support calculation. SSI is a federal means-tested benefit. It operates as more of a welfare benefit similar to cash assistance or food stamps. It is not meant to replace lost earnings but instead to provide some income to disabled people who would otherwise be poverty-stricken. Even though SSI cannot be considered, if the parent is otherwise capable of working, income from employment can still be considered for a support award.