TN 117 (09-12)

SI 00830.420 Child-Support Payments

CITATIONS: Social Security Act, as amended, sections 1612(a)(2)(E) and 1612(b)(9) ; 20 CFR 416.1121(b) and 416.1124(c)(11)

A. Glossary of terms

1. Child-support payment

A child-support payment is a payment from a parent to or for the child 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.

2. Absent parent

For purposes of these instructions, an absent parent is a parent whose parental rights have not been legally severed or a stepparent currently married to a parent of the child who does not live in the same household as the child. We determine household status on the first of the month.

If the periods of living together are brief and the child remains independent or under the care and control of another person, agency, institution, or is living in the home of another, the parent is usually considered absent unless such parent retains parental responsibility and control.

We do not consider a parent absent if such parent is away due to employment, intends to resume living with the child, and retains parental control and responsibility. We do not consider an “absent” military deemor “absent” for purposes of the child-support exclusion. For more information on deeming from an “absent” military deemor, see SI 01310.170.

We do not consider a child (or parent) who is a boarding student in an educational facility absent.

NOTE: This definition of an absent parent does not apply when determining “temporary absence” for deeming purposes.

When determining temporary absence from a deeming household, refer to SI 01310.165.

3. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) child

For information on SSI child status, see SI 00501.010.

4. Student

A student is an individual who is under age 22 and regularly attending school. For more information on SSI student child status, see SI 00501.020.

5. Adult child

An adult child is an individual's son or daughter who no longer meets the definition of a child (e.g., is now head of a household). For more information on SSI child status, see SI 00501.010.

6. Custodial parent

A custodial parent is a parent who has care, guardianship, or custody of the child.

7. Other person

For purposes of this section, an other person is an individual, other than a parent, who has care, guardianship, or custody of the child.

8. Child-support arrearage payment

A child-support arrearage payment is a payment that was due, but not paid in a timely manner for the appropriate period. It is being paid to comply with an unfulfilled past obligation to support the child.

B. Policy for child support on behalf of an SSI child

1. Treatment of child support as income

How to treat child-support payments made on behalf of an SSI child:

  • When an eligible child receives child-support payments (including arrearage payments) (as defined in SI 00501.010), the payments are unearned income to the child.

  • When an absent parent makes a child-support payment to or for an eligible child, we exclude one-third of the amount. This exclusion does not apply when determining the income of ineligible children in a deeming computation. For information on the ineligible child allocation, see SI 01310.110D.

How to treat child-support payments made on behalf of a deceased SSI child:

  • Child-support payments (including arrearage payments) made on behalf of a deceased SSI child are unearned income to the parent or other person who receives them.

  • The one-third child-support exclusion does not apply.

2. Food or shelter received as in-kind child support

We exclude one-third of the amount of child support that an eligible child receives in the form of food or shelter from an absent parent as income. The remaining two-thirds are in-kind support and maintenance (ISM) subject to the presumed maximum value (PMV). For more information on computing ISM from outside a household, see SI 00835.350C.

EXAMPLE - Absent parent provides ISM to child: Joe Smith's father provides all Joe’s food as part of his child-support agreement. In November 2011, Joe's father gives him food with a value of $600.

We would exclude $200 of that amount from income. The remaining $400 is subject to the 2011 PMV, which is $224.66. We would charge (the lesser of the two) $224.66 to Joe as ISM in the month of November.

Any in-kind child-support payment that is not for food or shelter (e.g., for health insurance) is not income to the child. However, we deduct court-ordered support payments made for any purpose (e.g., for health insurance etc.) from the deemor's income.

3. Child support and deeming

a. Treatment of child support for specific deemors

Exclude the income used by an ineligible spouse, ineligible parent, ineligible child, or eligible alien to make court-ordered or title IV-D support payments. Deduct the court-ordered or title IV-D support payments from the parent's income prior to deeming by selecting deductions on the parent’s applicable income screen (e.g., IWAG screen) and entering the amount of the support on the following screen. The system will deduct the support amount from the ineligible parent’s countable income. For more information on excluding the income used by specific deemors to make support payments, see SI 01320.145.

b. Treatment of child support when a child’s household changes

A child's circumstances may change while receiving child support:

  1. The child may leave the home of the custodial parent, or begin living with an absent parent or the absent parent may begin living in the household of the child and custodial parent. For purposes of deeming, change of status is effective with the month following the month the change occurs. For more information on deeming policies when a child’s household changes, see SI 01320.550.

  2. If the child lives in a household and receives child-support payments from a parent in that same household, then we do not consider the parent absent. The support is unearned income (type “SS”) to the child. The one-third exclusion does not apply to these payments because the one-third child-support exclusion only applies to payments from an absent parent. On the MSSICS Child Support ICHS screen, select #3 (court ordered from parent in household) and the system will not apply the one-third child-support exclusion.

EXAMPLE 1 -- A parent who was absent moves into household with eligible child and custodial parent:

A mother who was absent moves into the same household with the father and their children. She continues to give the father a child-support payment each week as required by the court order.

The payments are type “SS” unearned income to the children. The one-third exclusion does not apply to these payments, so enter code #3 on the ICHS screen in the Type of Benefit field. Begin deeming the mother's income in the month following the month the parent and children begin living in the same household. Deduct the court-ordered child support from the mother’s income prior to deeming by selecting deductions on the mother’s applicable income screen and entering the amount of the court-ordered child support on the following screen. The system does not include the amount of the court-ordered child support in the deeming computation.

EXAMPLE 2 -- Child lives with both parents and father contributes to household:

Both parents and their children live in the same household. The father works and gives the mother a certain amount of money each week to help run the household and pay for the family's needs.

Do not charge income to the mother or children due to this exchange of money. However, include the support amount in the father's deemed income.

EXAMPLE 3--Child lives with both parents and mother contributes to household:

Both parents and the child live in the same household. The mother works and uses her income to pay the rent, utilities, and other bills, and provide for her family's other needs.

The amount of money the mother spends to support her family is included in her income that is subject to deeming. Do not charge the mother’s contribution as support income to the father or child.

4. Child support paid to the State child-support enforcement agency under Title IV-D

How to treat child support paid to the State child-support enforcement agency under Title IV-D:

  • When a child is in the custody of the State (i.e., in foster care), and the State collects child support and keeps the money, the support payment from the parent is not income to the child. We consider the support payment a reimbursement to the State for the foster care payment. Also, child support collected and retained by the State, as reimbursement for prior Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) payments, is not income to the child.

  • A custodial parent or other person may ask the child-support enforcement agency to collect child-support payments from the absent parent, and the child-support agency may give the custodial parent or other person the support they collect. In these instances, treat the support the same as if the non-custodial parent sends the support payment directly to the custodial parent or other person. For more information on the treatment of child support as income, please see SI 00830.420B.1. in this section.

C. Policy for child support on behalf of an adult child

1. Current child support received on behalf of an adult child

  • When a parent or other person receives current child-support payments for an adult child after the adult child stops meeting the definition of a child, the income belongs to the adult child. The support payments are income to the adult child even if he or she does not live with or receive any of the child-support payment from the parent or other person. Such support payments are not subject to the SSI one-third child-support exclusion.

  • When a parent or other person receives current child-support payments on behalf of deceased SSI adult child, it is income to the parent or other person who receives them. Such support payments are not subject to the SSI one-third child-support exclusion.

2. Child-support arrearages received on behalf of an adult child

a. Policy for child-support arrearage payments effective June 1, 2002

Child-support arrearage payments received on behalf of an adult child are not subject to the SSI one-third child-support exclusion. The policy on the treatment of child-support arrearage payments made on behalf of an adult child changed as a result of a court-approved settlement agreement. Effective June 1, 2002, when a parent or other person receives a child-support arrearage payment on behalf of an adult child:

  • Any amount of that payment that the parent or other person receives and does not give to the adult child is unearned income to the parent or other person in the month they receive it. The portion of the arrearage payment the parent or other person retains is not income to the adult child and does not affect the adult child's SSI eligibility or payment.

  • Any amount of that payment that the parent or other person gives to the adult child is unearned income to the adult child in the month given, not income to the parent or other person.

  • Any payment that a parent or other person receives on behalf of a deceased SSI adult child is unearned income to the parent or other person in the month they receive the payment.

  • Any child-support arrearage payment an adult child receives directly from the absent parent is unearned income to the adult child.

EXAMPLE--Child support paid for an adult child:

A non-custodial father pays child support on behalf of his 19-year old disabled son who lives in his own apartment. We consider the son an adult child. The former custodial mother receives a $100 child-support payment. The $100 child-support payment consists of both a current payment of $75 and $25 to pay for an arrearage. The mother keeps the child-support arrearage payment of $25, and gives her son his current $75 child-support payment.

If the mother is SSI eligible or a deemor, the arrearage payment is her income. The current child-support payment of $75 is type “SS” unearned income to the adult child. The one-third child-support exclusion does not apply.

b. Policy for child-support arrearage payments prior to June 1, 2002

Prior to June 1, 2002, if a parent or other person received child-support arrearage payments on behalf of an adult child, the income belongs to the adult child. The support payments are income to the child even if he or she does not live with or receive any of the child-support payment from the parent or other person.

This type of support payments are not subject to the one-third exclusion.

D. Procedure for verifying child-support payments

1. Developing and verifying child-support payments

a. Procedure for verifying child-support payments effective June 1, 2002

  • Verify the amount and frequency of child-support payments.

  • Unless you doubt the allegation, accept the individual's allegation of the relationship of the payer to the payee and type of payment (voluntary or court ordered).

  • Determine if any of the child-support payments represent an arrearage, when the payments are made on behalf of an adult child.

  • Develop and document dates and amounts retained by the parent or other person or dispersed to the adult child when a parent or other person receives a child-support arrearage payment on behalf of an adult child.

  • Charge the arrearage payment as unearned income to the adult child when an adult child receives a child-support arrearage payment directly from the absent parent.

  • Post to the SSI record, the date and amount of the arrearage payment as unearned income to the adult child when a parent or other person who receives an arrearage payment gives the payment to the adult child.

  • Post to the SSI record, the date and amount of the arrearage payment as unearned income to the parent or other person when the parent or other person retains the arrearage payment and he or she receives SSI (or is a deemor on an SSI record).

  • Post to the SSI record, the date and amount of the child-support payment (including arrearages) as unearned income to the parent or other person when the parent or other person receives the payment on behalf of a deceased SSI child or adult child and he or she receives SSI (or is a deemor on an SSI record).

  • Use associated Remarks in MSSICS or a MSSICS Person Statement (DPST) screen to record a statement of retention or disbursement of child-support arrearage payments over the penalty clause.

b. Procedure for verifying child-support payments prior to June 1, 2002

  • Verify the amount and frequency of child-support payments.

  • Accept the individual's allegation of relationship of the payer to the payee unless you doubt the allegation.

  • Develop child-support arrearage payments to an adult child depending on the month(s) he or she receives arrearage payments.

  • Post the amount of the payment to the SSI record as income to the adult child who is receiving SSI payments. Do not charge any of the income to the parent or other person receiving the income on behalf of the adult child.

  • Use associated Remarks in the Modernized Supplemental Security Income Claims System (MSSICS) or a MSSICS Person Statement (DPST) screen to record a statement of retention or disbursement of child-support arrearage payments over the penalty clause.

2. Procedure when we make one payment for two or more individuals

Apply the following procedures when we make a single support payment (e.g., one check) for two or more persons:

  1. Review the legal document that describes the support payments:

    • If the legal document states the amount of each person's share, divide the payment according to the terms of the document.

    • If the legal document does not indicate the amount of each person's share, divide the payment equally.

  2. If no legal document exists, contact the source of the payment to establish intent and allocate the support payment according to that intent.

    • If contact with the source is not successful, accept the individual's signed allegation about who the support is for and how to allocate the support. If the individual cannot tell you how he or she wants to allocate the support payment, divide the payment equally among the intended recipients.

    • Use associated Remarks in MSSICS or a MSSICS Person Statement (DPST) screen to record a statement of retention or disbursement of child-support arrearage payments over the penalty clause.

3. Developing evidence for child-support payments

We consider the following child-support evidence:

  • Court records (For information on accepting court orders, see GN 00301.030B.3.);

  • Records of the agency that released the payments;

  • Official documents in the individual's possession (e.g., legal documents) that establish the amount and frequency of the support;

  • Report of contact with the source of the payment containing the date, amount, and frequency of the support.

If none of the evidence in SI 00830.420D.3. in this section is available, document the individual's signed statement of the amount of the support, dates received, and the retention or disbursement of the payments on the DPST screen in MSSICS. In non-MSSICS cases, fax an SSA-795, Statement of Claimant or Other Person, statement into the Electronic Disability Collect System (EDCS) or Non-Disability Repository for Evidentiary Documents (NDRed). Document in associated REMARKS or in COMMENTS the reason we did not obtain evidence (e.g., the documentation does not exist, the court or agency will not release the information, or the source refused to cooperate) on the EVID screen in MSOM EVID 001.003.

E. Procedure for systems coding

1. MSSICS claims

a. Payment on behalf of an SSI child when payer is an absent parent

Apply the following procedures for a payment from an absent parent on behalf of an SSI child.

In MSSICS:

Enter the date and the full amount of cash child-support payments and benefit type (either #1 or #2) on the Child Support (ICHS) screen for the child. For more information on the ICHS screen, see MSOM MSSICS 015.024. For information on deeming and the income used to comply with a court order, see SI 01320.145. If the claimant meets the definition of “child,” the system:

  • posts the income to the SSR as type “N” unearned income,

  • applies the one-third exclusion to the type “N” income, and

  • uses only two-thirds of the support payment in the SSI payment computation.

Enter the date and the total child-support payment that is In-Kind Support and Maintenance (ISM) on the In-Kind Support and Outside ISM (LISM) screen. For more information about the LISM screen, see MSOM MSSICS 010.021. Enter “Y” (yes) to the question “ARE PAYMENTS FROM ABSENT PARENT (Y/N)”. The system applies the exclusion and determines the ISM amount.

b. Payment on behalf of a deceased SSI child when payer was an absent parent

If the parent or other person receives SSI (e.g., parent is a disabled individual), enter the date and any child-support payment (including arrearages) that he or she receives on behalf of a deceased SSI child on the IOTH screen of the SSI eligible person’s record. MSSICS posts this income as type “SO” unearned income to the SSR. Document in Remarks that the income is a child-support payment or arrearage on behalf of a deceased SSI child.

c. Court-ordered payment on behalf of an SSI child when payer is NOT an absent parent

Enter the date and the full amount of cash child-support payments and benefit type #3 on the ICHS screen for the SSI child. For more information about the ICHS screen, see MSOM MSSICS 015.024. MSSICS posts the income to the SSR as type “SS” unearned income. The one-third exclusion does not apply to these payments. For information on deeming and the income used to comply with a court order, see SI 01320.145.

d. Court-ordered payment on behalf of a deceased SSI child when payer was NOT an absent parent

If the parent or other person receives SSI (e.g., parent is a disabled individual), enter the date and any child-support payment (including arrearages) that he or she receives on behalf of a deceased SSI child on the IOTH screen. MSSICS posts this income as type “SO” unearned income to the SSR. Document in Remarks that the income is from a child-support payment or arrearage from a deceased SSI child.

e. Payment on behalf of an adult child

Apply the following procedures for a payment on behalf of an adult child:

  • Enter the date and the full amount of cash child-support payments (including arrearage payments received, if applicable) to an adult child on the ICHS screen in MSOM MSSICS 015.024. If the claimant does not meet the definition of a “child,” MSSICS posts this income to the SSR as type “SS” unearned income. The one-third exclusion does not apply to support payments received by an adult child. The system uses the entire support payment in the SSI payment computation.

  • If the parent or other person receives SSI (e.g., parent is a disabled individual), enter the date and any child-support arrearage payment that he or she received and retained June 1, 2002, or later on the IOTH screen. MSSICS posts this income as type “SO” unearned income to the SSR. Document in Remarks that the income is from a child-support arrearage.

f. Payment on behalf of a deceased adult child

If the parent or other person receives SSI (e.g., parent is a disabled individual), enter the date and any child-support payment (including arrearages) that he or she receives on behalf of a deceased SSI adult child on the IOTH screen. MSSICS posts this income as type “SO” unearned income to the SSR. Document in Remarks that the income is from a child-support payment or arrearage from a deceased SSI adult child.

2. Non-MSSICS Claims

a. Payment on behalf of an SSI child when payer is an absent parent

Apply the following procedures for a payment from an absent parent on behalf of an SSI child:

  • Enter the date and the full amount of cash child-support payments to a child as type “N” unearned income in the UM field on the SSA-1719B, Supplemental Security Income Post-Entitlement Input or the SSA-450-SI, SSI Data Input and Determination. The system applies the one-third exclusion when performing the SSI payment computation.

  • For child-support payments that are ISM, first compute the amount of child support that is countable. For more information on food or shelter received as child support, see SI 00830.420B.2., in this section. Post the countable child support as type “H” income on the SSA-1719B or SSA-450-SI. For more information on specific rules for Type H unearned income, see SM 01005.193.

b. Payment from an absent parent on behalf of a deceased SSI child

Post the full amount of the child-support payments (including arrearages) as to a parent or other person who received the payment on behalf of the deceased SSI child (and who receives SSI or is a deemor) as type “SS” unearned income in the UM field on the SSA-1719B or SSA-450-SI. The one-third exclusion does not apply to these payments. Document the individual’s signed statement that the income is from a child-support payment or arrearage from a deceased SSI child on an SSA-795 and fax it into Electronic Disability Collect System (EDCS) or Non-Disability Repository for Evidentiary Documents (NDRed).

c. Court-ordered payment on behalf of an SSI child when payer is NOT an absent parent

Post the full amount of cash child-support payments to the child as type “SS” unearned income in the UM field on the SSA-1719B or SSA-450-SI. The one-third exclusion does not apply to these payments. For information on deeming and the income used to comply with a court order, see SI 01320.145.

d. Court-ordered payment from parent who is not absent on behalf of a deceased SSI child

Post the full amount of child-support payments (including arrearages) as income to the parent or other person who received the payment on behalf of the deceased SSI child. Post the income as type “SS” unearned income in the UM field on the SSA-1719B or SSA-450-SI. The one-third exclusion does not apply to these payments. Document the individual’s signed statement that the income is from a child-support payment or arrearage from a deceased SSI child on an SSA-795 and fax it into EDCS or NDRed.

e. Payment on behalf of an adult child

Apply the following procedures for a payment on behalf of an adult child:

  • Enter the date and the full amount of cash child-support payments (including arrearages received, if applicable) to an adult child as type “SS” unearned income in the UM field on the SSA-1719B or SSA-450-SI. The one-third exclusion does not apply to an adult child.

  • Enter the date and any child-support arrearage payments that are income (received June 1, 2002, or later) to a parent or other person who receives SSI as type “SS” unearned income in the UM field on the SSA-1719B or SSA-450-SI.

f. Payment on behalf of a deceased SSI adult child

Enter the date and the full amount of the child-support payments (including arrearages) to a parent or other person who received the payment on behalf of the deceased adult child (and who receives SSI or is a deemor) as type “SS” unearned income in the UM field on the SSA-1719B or SSA-450-SI. The one-third exclusion does not apply to these payments. Document the individual’s signed statement that the income is from a child-support payment or arrearage from a deceased SSI adult child on an SSA-795 and fax it into EDCS or NDRed.

F. References

  • MSOM INTRANETSSI 014.024 Child Support List

  • MSOM INTRANETSSI 014.025 Child Support

  • SI 00501.415 Blind or Disabled Children of Military Personnel Stationed Overseas - Overview overseas

  • SI 00501.010 Determining Child Status for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Purposes

  • SI 00501.020 Student - SSI

  • SI 00830.005 General Rules for Developing Unearned Income

  • SI 01320.550 Deeming - Change of Status - Parents/Children

  • SI 01310.110 Deeming Concept - Allocation

  • SI 00835.350 Computation of In-Kind Support and Maintenance from Outside a Household (Including Vendor Payments by a Third Party Outside the Household)

  • SI 00835.400 In-Kind Support and Maintenance (ISM) to One Person

  • SI 00830.100 Expenses of Obtaining Income

  • MSOM MSSICS 010.021 ISM (LISM)


To Link to this section - Use this URL:
http://policy.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/0500830420
SI 00830.420 - Child-Support Payments - 07/25/2016
Batch run: 07/25/2016
Rev:07/25/2016