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What Happens If a Senior Does Not Pay Child Support?
The compensation for child support is considered when a family court is deciding the child support case. Oftentimes, the partner is unable to make these payments fully or defaults in some months. If a retiree does not pay the other party child support as ordered by the court, the government then has a right to seize part of their social security benefits. The estranged or ex-wife can then file for apportionment. Once the filed apportionment is approved by the Social Security Administration, benefits garnished from the senior’s social security is paid to the filer.
What Exactly is Apportionment?
Apportionment is what happens when some part of a senior’s social security benefit is paid to an eligible individual that has relations with the senior. This person may be estranged or former partner, child or parent. The senior has to be currently responsible for the financial upkeep of the individual to whom the apportionment is paid.
During apportionment, the Social Security Administration SSA takes a percentage of the senior’s benefits that they deem appropriate and rewards it to the individual that has folded for child support. The senior’s check is, therefore, reduced by the exact percentage that is given to the individual that makes the file.
Who Can File an Apportionment Claim?
Not just anybody can file for apportionment. To qualify, an individual has to be the senior’s child whether in custody of an estranged, or ex spouse or the senior’s custody but not getting any support or an estranged spouse of the senior. For an apportionment file to be considered, the SSA checks for the legitimacy of the file. They consider whether the filer actually needs the apportionment benefits.
If the senior doesn’t support an individual for whom they are financially responsible, or aren’t paying their child support, alimony or other legal obligations, the SSA can then legitimize the apportionment claim and pay it to the dependent that files for it. The file is deemed necessary and reasonable.
What is the Procedure to File For an Apportionment Claim?
Are you eligible to file for an apportionment? Even if you are, you should be aware of certain cases when you may not qualify or understand why your file is rejected or unapproved. Apportionment files are not approved with claims paid to you automatically. The senior has to be considered, even in your file for apportionment. Your file may be rejected and turned down if it affects the senior negatively. Apportionment files that are accepted are such that they do not cause the senior any financial challenges.
If the SSA sees that the senior lacks other means of support and garnishing the senior’s social security benefits will affect their living, the apportionment file may be rejected. If the filer is a former spouse or estranged wife, the SSA may consider whether the former partner is currently married and living with a new partner. If so, the file may be denied.
If it is the child who files for apportionment, they consider the current situation of the child. If the child is financially stable, more than 18 years old, not handicapped, qualifies for work or if someone else has adopted the child, the file is then illegitimate. In these cases, the senior is not finally responsible for the child. Also, a child that is less than 18 years of age but currently in the military can’t file for apportionment. If the child files, it is rejected.
If an eligible individual (i.e. parent, child or spouse) files an apportionment claim which won’t cause the senior any financial challenges or affect the senior’s living, the SSA could then ask the filer to submit supporting financial statements if they already have not done that.
The SSA may ask both parties to submit supporting documents. The senior is asked to send documents showing whether or not an apportionment action will affect their finances and living drastically. Also, the filer is asked to submit documents that support that claim and shows that an apportionment action is needful.
On submission of supporting documents by both parties, the SSA pores over the decisions and according to their findings and the law, issues a decision, granting or rejecting the apportionment file. The SSA also determines the appropriate percentage of the senior’s benefit to be apportioned.
Once a decision has been made, the file or the senior may appeal the SSA’s decision. The senior may also decide to apply for hardship reduction if they believe that the amount being apportioned is so much so that it will affect their survival and financial needs. This means that apportionment may be granted but if the senior believes that it will cause a financial burden considering their current situation, they can appeal the decision just as well as the filer.
Which Other Instances Can Apportionment be Filed?
Spouses of seniors who are currently imprisoned may apply for the senior’s benefits to be apportioned. This is quite helpful and in favor of a senior when the senior’s total benefits are getting reduced periodically because they are currently incarcerated. In this case, all of the senior’s benefits may be apportioned to the filer.
What Should a Senior Do When Facing Apportionment?
Considering how SSA benefits can be garnished, the whole process can get very confusing. The processes and people involved are usually more than you’d like or even be comfortable with. This goes for the several deadlines, documents to be filled and submitted and more supporting documents required. And yet, these are all in the first stages of apportionment. If the first decision is taken and appealed, it’s another series of processes.
As a senior, if a family member applies to apportion your social security benefits, the best advice for you would be to get an attorney. Your attorney would oversee the processes till you get a final decision.
You may also help your attorney by providing them with useful documents concerning your recent financial history and other documents they need you to provide. Remember to stay calm through the process. Worrying over issues like this may do more harm than good. Also, the process can get quite long, so ask your attorney to keep you updated on what you need to do each step of the way.
If you are a senior and you have a child support claim or an apportionment is being filed on your benefits, try to stay as informed as possible. Most times, the senior has no idea that someone has applied for the apportionment of their benefits until much later when the decision has been finalized. Once you get to know that a family member or former partner has fled for apportionment of your benefits, get your lawyer and make sure he keeps you abreast of all the processes and development.
Don’t forget also that it is very possible to file for an appeal if you feel that the decision by the court is uninformed or unfair, or if you had no idea that a claim was made and were thus, absent through the process till finalization. If the decision might affect your finances and living, then appeal the case. If you also think that the filer has no legitimate ground to make the filing, call the attention of your attorney and thereafter, the court to why you think this.