A parent may be receiving government benefits not only for him or herself, but also independent benefits designated for his or her child. Are the benefits received on behalf of the child considered income for purposes of calculating child support?
The Second District Court of Appeals answers affirmatively in Wallace v. Dept. of Revenue ex rel Cutter, 774 So. 2d 804, 808 (Fla. 2d DCA 2000):
[W]hen a parent is receiving social security disability due to the disability and, as a result, his or her children receive independent benefits, the total benefits received by or on behalf of that parent are attributed to the disabled parent as income in the child support guideline calculation. The dependent benefits are then credited toward the disabled parent’s obligation, that is, they are a payment of the obligation on behalf of the disabled parent. If the benefits are less than the support obligation, the disabled parent must pay the difference. If they are more, the benefits pay the obligation in full, but any excess inures to the benefit of the children.
In Maslow v. Edwards, 36 Fla. L. Weekly D266a (Fla. 5th DCA 2011), the Fifth District Court of Appeals clarifies that the analysis remains the same whether the independent benefits originate from the Social Security Administration or another government entity:
At trial, Maslow introduced into evidence documentation showing that he was receiving veteran’s disability benefits of $440 per month for himself and an additional monthly benefit of $159 for the minor child who is the subject of the child support proceeding. According to the Florida Department of Revenue, veteran’s benefits for minor children are paid to the veteran directly.
Although this case involves disability benefits paid by the Veteran’s Administration, rather than benefits paid by Social Security, there does not appear to be any reason to treat the two situations differently.
If you have questions regarding your specific circumstances, you should contact a family law attorney.