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        Georgia Child Support Enforcement Agent Procedure 275
             Social Security Benefits and Child Support

Objective:
In the process of calculating an amount of support due in an initial order or in a review
and modification, to give proper credit for any Social Security benefit received by or on
behalf of a child or children, based on a Social Security benefit paid to an NCP.

Authority:
O.C.G.A. §19-6-15 and Perteet v. Sumner, 246 Ga. 182, 269 S.E.2d 453 (1980)

Reference:
42 USC §659 and 45 CFR § 302.56

Applicability:
All Georgia Child Support offices receiving Title IV-D funds including all private vendors
contracted with the Department of Human Resources to provide child support services.

Required Case Conditions:
Any obligated or unobligated IV-D case where the NCP receives Social Security
Benefits.

Background:
The Social Security Administration (SSA) has responsibility for a number of federal
benefits programs that may impact CSE. The two most notable are:
RSDI - Retirement, Survivors and Disability Insurance, and
SSI - Supplemental Security Income
RSDI is funded by Social Security taxes on income and has five major benefits:
 Retirement - benefits paid to a retired wage earner who is old enough and has
  earned enough Social Security "credits" to meet the requirements for this benefit.
  (Enacted 1935)
 Survivors - Upon the death of a wage earner, certain members of that family may
  be eligible for recurring benefits if the deceased person earned enough Social
  Security "credits" while they were working. (Enacted 1939)
 Disability Insurance - benefits payable (at any age) to people who have been wage
  earners who have accumulated enough Social Security "credits" to qualify and who
  have a severe physical or mental impairment that is expected to prevent them from
  doing "substantial" work for a year or more or who have a condition that is expected
  to result in their death. (Enacted 1956)
 Family Benefits - When a former wage earner is eligible for retirement or disability,
  other members of their family might be eligible to receive benefits, too.
 Medicare Benefits - Hospitalization Insurance is usually called Part "A" and Medical
  Insurance is referred to as Part "B". (Enacted 1965)



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RSDI Retirement, once awarded (and provided earned income limitations are not
exceeded), will continue until the death of that NCP - at which time surviving CP's and
minor children might be eligible for a recurring Survivor’s benefit payment.
RSDI Disability, once awarded, is reviewed after a 1, 3, 5 or a 7-year period; based
SSA's assessment of the severity of the disability. The case manager should attempt
to determine the award review date and insert a $TARS prompt to verify either the
closure or the continuance of the award at an appropriate date in the future. If a review
date cannot be obtained, the case should be "prompted" for an annual review of the
continuance/closure of the award.
For both Retirement and Disability; SSA bases the dollar amount of a prospective
award on a combination of the applicant's "pre-retirement" or "pre-disability" earnings
record coupled with the length of time the applicant was employed and paying into the
Social Security system. SSA then applies a second formula to the amount of the
award to obtain a "family benefit ceiling amount". In rare instances, the amount of the
NCP's award COULD be 100% of the "ceiling" amount but in most cases, the family
benefit ceiling amount will exceed the amount of the applicant's award. Qualified family
members, upon application, can then equally share in any difference between the
family benefit ceiling amount and the award the applicant will receive. Children must
be under age 18 (or under 19 if in high school full time) and paternity must be
established for each child to qualify. SSA’s acceptance of what constitutes proof of
paternity is much less stringent than CSE’s.
If qualified children of multiple relationships exist, then the "ceiling" amount minus the
NCP's share is divided equally among the children. For example: an NCP's "ceiling" is
determined to be $1400.00 per month and the NCP's share is $950.00 per month. This
leaves $450.00 per month to be shared among any qualified children (whole dollar
amounts only; SSA drops any cents). As qualified children reach emancipation, the
"ceiling" amount (less the NCP's share) will be equally shared by the remaining
qualified minor children.
Georgia case law (Perteet v. Sumner) requires CSE to adhere to the following:
 Any RSDI "lump sum" payment made to or on behalf of a child (based on that
  child's NCP's eligibility for RSDI), must be applied to any CP's arrears which that
  NCP accrued under a court order, regardless of when that lump sum is received.
 The ongoing monthly RSDI benefit payment made to or on behalf of a child (based
  on that child's NCP's eligibility for RSDI), must be applied towards any potential or
  existing monthly amount of child support the NCP would be or is responsible for
  paying.
SSI, on the other hand, is funded through general tax revenues and is not based on
any past earnings or any accumulated Social Security "credits". SSI is for people who
are either over age 65 or are blind (at any age) or are disabled (at any age) and have
both limited income and assets. SSI is best described as a "needs-based federal
welfare program", but children as well as adults can qualify for SSI.

Unlike the RSDI benefits program, there are absolutely no provisions for the
disbursement of any benefits to any minor child(ren) of an NCP who receives SSI. An
NCP's child(ren) can, of course, be disabled and quality for SSI on their own right.


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SSI income is exempt from garnishment and the withholding provisions of an IDO
although liens, financial data match (but only on funds NOT traceable to SSI payments
– see below, 275.5) and license suspension/denial remain as enforcement alternatives.
Child Support situations involving Social Security's SSI program are usually rather "cut
and dried" and are relatively free of any encumbering exceptions. RSDI, on the other
hand, is far more likely to present "problems" for a CSE Agent and, depending on the
local office option chosen, may require a great deal more investigation. Additionally,
the confluence of these two Social Security programs may, upon rare occasion,
present a CSE Agent with a seemingly unsolvable situation. In such an occurrence,
consult first with your ADA/SAAG, then, if necessary, request direction from the Policy
Development Unit.
Whenever any party associated with a case has a disability, special caution should be
used whenever reviewing a case for establishment or enforcement of a child support
order. Refer to the Safeguarding Procedure 80 and HIPAA Procedure 373.

Action:
275.1 – RSDI and an unobligated CSE case
The two RSDI programs that CSE is concerned with are Retirement and Disability.
A. Retirement: Occurring infrequently, retirement is handled as regular income. Use
   Procedure 330 to determine the NCP's total gross income, and then use the
   guidelines to calculate an amount of support due per child. For any child who
   receives an RSDI award (based on the NCP's eligibility), subtract the amount of that
   child's award from the guidelines based support amount due per child. The result is
   the current support award for that particular child. An example:
   A retired NCP (with a "ceiling" amount of $1000/month) has an RSDI retirement
   benefit of $850 per month. This NCP has two minor children who receive a total of
   $150 ($75 each) per month ($1000 - $850 = $150). Based on the NCP's RSDI
   retirement income, the guidelines support amount due would be 25.5% of $850.00;
   or, $216.75 ($108.38 per child) per month. The NCP's current support obligation
   would then be $33.38 per child, per month ($108.38 - $75.00). If this NCP had any
   other income, it must be included with their RSDI retirement amount at the
   beginning of this example and the current support due would be calculated from the
   total of the NCP's income. The above applies if both of the children are in the same
   case, in different cases or even if one child is in a CSE case and the other is not.
   The rare possibility exists that a child's SSA benefit share could be greater than the
   guidelines support amount.
B. Disability: Occurring much more frequently than Retirement in CSE cases, if it is
   verified that an unobligated NCP receives RSDI disability, the local office may
   either:
   1. After establishing paternity, close the case based on Procedure 1140 E
      (being awarded RSDI disability is prima facie evidence of “medically verified total
      and permanent disability” and “no evidence of support potential”, or
   2. Follow the regular procedure to compute a support award amount based on
      the NCP’s disability award along with any other income.
Special Note: Social Security regulations allow an RSDI disability recipient unlimited
unearned income (income from stocks, bonds, rents, etc). Agents should always


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check an NCP’s most recent Personal and Financial Affidavit FormPFA when
considering which of the above options to take.
If an NCP’s sole income is RSDI disability, CSE’s Legal Services Officer recommends
the first option as the most appropriate noting that a closed IV-A or IV-D case may be
reactivated if the CP can later prove a significant change in circumstances.

275.2 RSDI and an OBLIGATED CSE Case / RevMod
As with unobligated cases, Retirement and Disability are handled differently:
A. Retirement: At local office option, upon the discovery that an obligated NCP
   receives RSDI retirement (or that a child(ren) in an obligated case receives an RSDI
   benefit based on the NCP's eligibility); in the absence of an existing Order to the
   contrary, the NCP may be contacted for permission to proceed with a RevMod. Of
   primary concern is verification of the amount of the child/children's monthly RSDI
   benefit and of any lump sum amount that Social Security may have already paid to
   the CP of the child(ren).
   In such instance, if all or part of the NCP's income is an RSDI retirement payment
   and if the existing Order does not forbid alteration, modification or amendment (an
   extremely rare circumstance), a RevMod may result in a substantially reduced
   current support amount, even resulting in a "zero" current support amount. Arrears
   accrued under the original/latest order may be reduced (or even be satisfied) by any
   "lump sum" amount paid by SSA to the CP for the child(ren). If the amount of the
   child's RSDI award exceeds the current support amount in the existing order and
   the RevMod Agent utilizes the "special circumstances" enumerated in O.C.G.A.
   §19-6-15 and makes the new current CS amount EQUAL to the amount of the
   child's RSDI award, no part of the ongoing RSDI award can be used to further
   reduce any remaining arrears.
The most probable and common scenarios will be:
1. Current support and arrears are both reduced to zero dollar amount
Divorce (or Non IV-A CSE Order) in 12/97 established $500/month current support for
1 child effective 1/98. NCP paid all CS due in '98 but was injured in 1/99; ceased
paying any CS and filed an application for RSDI. In November '99, SSA approved
RSDI for NCP - family cap was $1400; NCP was awarded $800/month; child,
$600/month ($1400 minus $800 = $600). RSDI award was made effective back to
1/99 (date of disability/filing).
NCP received an 11/99 check for $8,800 (his 11/99 RSDI benefit of $800 and a lump
sum of $8000 {$800/month for the 10 months from 1/99 - 10/99}). Child (actually, the
CP - this money goes directly to the CP) received an 11/99 check for $6,600 ($600 for
the 11/99 award based on the NCP's eligibility and $6000 for the 10 months from 1/99 -
10/99).
Assuming a RevMod based on the above could have been completed in 11/99 to be
effective 12/99, the NCP's current support would be reduced to $0.00 (NCP’s $800
award X 20% = new guidelines current support amount of $160/month minus amount
of child’s award ($600) = $0.00) AND the NCP's arrears of $5000 ($500/month for the
10 months from 1/99 - 10/99) would be satisfied by the child's lump sum amount. If
this was a IV-A case and TANF arrears were present, those arrears could still be
addressed by the usual means.

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2. Current support reduced to zero dollar amount but arrears remain
Divorce (or Non IV-A CSE Order) in 12/97 established $500/month current support for
1 child effective 1/98. NCP has never made a CS payment. NCP was injured in 1/99
and filed an application for RSDI. In November '99, SSA approved RSDI for NCP -
family cap was $1000; NCP was awarded $800/month; child, $200/month ($1000 -
$800 = $200). RSDI award was made effective back to 1/99 (date of disability/filing).
NCP received an 11/99 check for $8,800 (his 11/99 RSDI benefit of $800 and a lump
sum of $8000 ($800/month for the 10 months from 1/99 - 10/99). Child (again, the CP,
directly) received an 11/99 check for $2,200 ($200 for the 11/99 award based on the
NCP's eligibility and $2000 for the 10 months from 1/99 - 10/99).
Assuming this information was discovered/reported immediately and a RevMod based
on the above could have been completed in 11/99 to be effective 12/99, the NCP's
current support would be reduced to $0.00/month (NCP’s $800 award X 20% = new
guidelines current support amount of $160/month minus the $200 RSDI award to the
child = $0.00) and NCP’s arrears of $11,000 ($500/month for the 22 months from 1/98
- 10/99) would be reduced by the $2000 lump sum payment to $9,000. As in #1, if the
NCP had other income, it would have to be factored in and if this was a IV-A case and
TANF arrears were present; they could still be addressed by the usual means.
A second scenario can exist where current support is reduced to a zero dollar amount
but with arrears remaining:
Divorce (or Non IV-A CSE Order) in 12/97 established $500/month current support for
1 child effective 1/98. NCP has never made a CS payment. NCP was injured in 1/99
and filed an application for RSDI. In November '99, SSA approved RSDI for NCP -
family cap was $1400; NCP was awarded $800/month; child, $600/month ($1400 -
$800 = $600). RSDI award was made effective back to 1/99 (date of disability/filing).
NCP received an 11/99 check for $8,800 (his 11/99 RSDI benefit of $800 and a lump
sum of $8000 ($800/month for the 10 months from 1/99 - 10/99). Child (again, the CP,
directly) received an 11/99 check for $6,600 ($600 for the 11/99 award based on the
NCP's eligibility and $6000 for the 10 months from 1/99 - 10/99).
Assuming this information was discovered/reported immediately and a RevMod based
on the above could have been completed in 11/99 to be effective 12/99, as in the
example above, the NCP's current support would be reduced to $0.00 and the
arrears of $11,000 ($500/month for the 22 months from 1/98 - 10/99) would be
reduced, not by the amount of arrears accrued during the time period in question
($5,000), but by the ENTIRE $6000 lump sum payment (resulting in remaining arrears
of $5,000). Again, as in #1, if the NCP had other income, it would have to be factored
in and if this was a IV-A case and TANF arrears were present; they could still be
addressed by the usual means.
Special Note: In a scenario as described above, the CSE Legal Services Officer recommends
that the RevMod Agent utilize the “Special Circumstances” enumerated in O.C.G.A. §19-6-15
and make the new current CS amount equal to the amount of the child’s monthly RSDI award.
B: Disability: As with unobligated cases, local offices have two options:
  1. Close the case based on Procedure 1140 E (being awarded RSDI disability is
     prima facie evidence of “medically verified total and permanent disability” and
     “no evidence of support potential”); or
  2. Follow the regular procedure for a revmod based on the NCP’s disability

MT 99                                     5                      Procedure 275    09/2004
        award along with any other income. Any “lump sum” payment must be credited
        towards CP arrears, only. In no circumstance can any of the “lump sum” money
        be applied to PA arrears.
As in 275.1 B, Social Security regulations allow an RSDI disability recipient unlimited
unearned income (income from stocks, bonds, rents, etc). Agents should always
check an NCP’s most recent Personal and Financial Affidavit FormPFA when
considering which of the above options to take.
If an NCP’s sole income is RSDI disability, CSE’s Legal Services Officer recommends
the first option as the most appropriate noting that a closed IV-A or IV-D case may be
reactivated if the CP can later prove a significant change in circumstances.
Either the CP or the NCP can ask CSE to reopen a closed case IF the requesting party
can prove a substantial change in circumstances.
Note: One other scenario is possible with an NCP whose income includes RSDI
retirement or disability benefits and the NCP's benefit award is 100% of the ceiling
amount. In such case, there is no money "left over" for any other otherwise eligible and
qualified family members. Any RevMod would, of course, then be based solely on the
NCP’s income.

275.3 SSA Mailing Address
A special P O Box has been set up by SSA to handle all withholding documents:
SSA/OCSE
Suite 50
c/o P O Box 26430
Baltimore, MD 21207

275.4 – SSI
In any unobligated IV-D case, when it is determined that the NCP’s sole source of
income is SSI (it is extremely unusual for an SSI recipient to have any sort of “other”
income), paternity should be established (if possible) and then the case should be
closed under the same rationale as RSDI disability cases in 275.2 B 1.
In any obligated CSE case, TANF or Non-TANF, when it is verified that an NCP
receives SSI, the case should be closed under the same rationale as RSDI disability
cases in 275.2 B 1. Either the CP or the NCP can ask CSE to reopen a closed case IF
the requesting party can prove a substantial change in circumstances.

275.5 – Technical Problems
While most situations involving NCP’s that receive RSDI or SSI are fairly
straightforward, things can get very complicated. If you have an RSDI/SSI problem
that is not addressed in this procedure, the Social Security Administration has technical
representatives in all of their local offices to answer your questions. These “tech reps”
can only be reached by calling 1 800 772-1213 and enduring SSA’s lengthy phone
tree. Do not use the keypad of your touch-tone phone but wait until the automated
answering process asks for you to say the word “zero”. When you say “zero”, you will
be forwarded to a technical advisor.




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