Alimony Payments on Disability

Jodee Redmond
Disability payments can be seized to pay for alimony.

Can someone be ordered to make alimony payments on disability? Despite some people's efforts to avoid having their payments seized to satisfy an order for alimony or child support, being on Social Security benefits doesn't relieve an individual of his or her financial responsibilities.

Debit Cards for Social Security Recipients

In April of 2008, people receiving Social Security Disability benefits were given the option of having their monthly benefits loaded onto a debit card instead of receiving a paper check. Some people liked the idea of having the monthly benefit electronically loaded onto a debit card. This system is more convenient and secure than waiting for a check to come in the mail.

If the recipient were hospitalized around the time the check was due to arrive, it would mean a delay in getting these much-needed funds. Monies deposited onto a debit card would be insured through FDIC in the same way that a bank account is, which means that the funds would be replaced if the card were lost or stolen.

Bank Accounts and Attachment

Another reason Social Security Disability recipients gave for preferring to receive a paper check was that they could take it to a check-cashing outlet, pay the fee, and get cash without having the funds appear in a bank account. The reasoning behind this course of action is that they have concerns about the funds being attached by creditors. Under federal legislation, Social Security Disability payments are exempt from attachment; creditors cannot take the funds from a recipient's bank account.

However, for every rule there is an exception. Social Security Disability payments can be taken to pay alimony and/or child support payments the recipient owes.

Varying Alimony Payments on Disability

In a situation where a person has been ordered to pay alimony or child support and then becomes disabled, he or she is still responsible for making the payments as ordered unless a judge orders otherwise. It is possible to go to court to get an order varying the amount to be paid based on a material change in circumstances.

The person receiving the Social Security Disability payments will need to produce documentation indicating the amount he or she is receiving on benefits. The judge will need to be convinced that continuing to make the payments as originally ordered would cause financial hardship.

Bring the Motion Right Away

The best course of action would be to bring the motion to vary the original order as soon as possible after starting to receive Social Security Disability payments. Simply finding yourself in difficult financial circumstances is not enough to change the amount owing for alimony. The longer the person waits, the more back alimony will be owed. Since you know that not having a bank account will not stop collection procedures for alimony that is owing, there isn't an advantage to insisting on a paper check if you are on Social Security Disability benefits. If you get behind in your alimony payments while on disability, you are still subject to collection proceedings.

These proceedings may include a withholding of your benefits. Deal with any changes to your financial situation promptly, and you can avoid this scenario.

Alimony Payments on Disability