Are Supplemental Security Benefits (SSI) Included in Your Income for Computing Child Support?

Alan R. Burton Attorney at Law

Supplemental security income or as more commonly known as a SSI  benefits, are in fact included in your income when it comes time to calculating child support in Florida.

Florida is, however, in the minority when it comes to utilizing SSI benefits for child support calculations.  Most states exempt this type of income from an individual’s gross income when it comes time to calculating their gross income.

In Florida, child support is calculated by utilizing a formula which includes the gross income of each party from all possible sources.  Florida Statute 61.30(2) provides a non-exclusive, detailed list of items that are included in a person’s gross income in order to arrive at an accurate amount of child support that is to be paid in any particular case.

Included in the list of varying types of income is of course SSI benefits.

There is a rather unusual twist under Florida law regarding SSI benefits.  The law states that although the SSI benefits are included in your income to calculate child support, the parent who is receiving SSI benefits cannot be required to pay child support from those benefits, if that is their only source of income.  That particular provision of Florida law is found in Florida Statute, section 409.2561(4).

The calculation of child support frequently involves questions concerning what particular source of revenue might in fact be considered income for purposes of calculating child support.

When the case involves two salaried employees who receive paychecks weekly or biweekly, it makes the calculation rather straightforward.  The amount of income attributable to an individual can become much more complex when that individual owns his own company or business.  In that particular case, even though the individual may be deducting legitimate expenses on his tax return, the courts may not be as generous and flexible in allowing those deductions from the person’s gross income when it comes time to calculating child support.

What about public assistance that a person receives, such as temporary cash assistance or food stamps?  Are these items included in a person’s gross income for purposes of calculating child support?

The answer is no.  The Florida Legislature clearly stated that public assistance benefits are not included in your gross income.  The Legislature did however, make it clear that SSI benefits are included in your gross income.

Every case that is filed in the State of Florida which involves minor children, whether it be a divorce case or paternity case, involves the calculation and completion of child support guidelines worksheets.  The worksheets should be completed accurately, so that if you are the recipient of child support, you want to be sure that you are receiving the maximum benefit allowed by law.

A detailed analysis of Social Security disability income, as well as other types of state subsidies can be reviewed in the case of Kemper v. the Department of Revenue.  This case will provide a you with a clear understanding of how government benefits relate to child support issues.

As can be seen from a review of this article, there are many nuances under Florida law in reference to the calculation of gross income for child support purposes.  Although you are always free to represent yourself in court as a “pro se” litigant, it is always better to have an attorney by your side who has the knowledge and experience in dealing with complicated child support issues. Alan R. Burton, a divorce attorney in Boca Raton, Florida has over 40 years of experience dealing with cases involving children and child support.  Call him today at 954-295-9222.

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