Taxpayer asks:

If I am on SSDI but I owe child support, will I still receive a stimulus check?

Taxgirl says:

Typically, certain Social Security benefits, including SSDI or SSI, are exempt from garnishment from most creditors. There are a few exceptions, and one of them is – you guessed it – the federal government. 

If you are collecting SSDI or Social Security retirement benefits, the federal government can garnish your benefits to recover back taxes or defaulted federal student loan payments. Your SSDI and Social Security retirement benefits can also be garnished for child support. Limits apply in those cases.

Here’s where it gets tricky. The CARES Act specifically says that Economic Impact Payments (EIPs or stimulus checks) can only be used as an offset for child support, and not for other obligations like back taxes or student loans. (You can read more about child support garnishes here.)

So, if you receive SSDI or Social Security retirement benefits, but you owe child support, the IRS may offset your check. That’s pretty clear.

Here’s where it’s less clear. If you receive SSI benefits, your SSI payment typically cannot be seized to satisfy existing obligations – including child support. However, your stimulus check is not considered an SSI benefit: it is a refundable tax credit. That means it should not fall under the exception. So while the IRS has not made an official comment on this issue, I believe the IRS will offset stimulus checks to SSI benefit recipients for child support. Readers have reported that to be the case, and that’s the logical conclusion – but this program, to date, hasn’t been very logical.

It’s worth noting that once the EIP payment has hit your bank account, it is no longer protected, and can be seized by creditors.

Before you go: be sure to read my disclaimer. Remember, I’m a lawyer and we love disclaimers.
If you have a question, here’s how to Ask The Taxgirl.

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30 Comments

  1. Owed money to Fl.disbursement been paying arrears since 82no one will give me an exact amount owed or even more so an exact amount paid over judgement these so called kids are in there 30’s with there own kids state of Fl. Been taken half of my disability check 03 i fill the back pay has been pay back long time ago I need help

    • I think the only way you’re going to get an answer is to work directly through the state. Do you have a case worker or similar?

  2. Samantha Fetterman Reply

    If i had an agreement to only pay 20 dollars a month why did children support still take my stimulus check from me i should only had to pay that 20 and thats it

    • If you have an amount outstanding – and that $20/month is the repayment – then your check can be seized to pay the balance due. I would check with your state to find out more information.

    • They took my 1st and 2 stimulus check for child support I have never been approved that I have a child some girl said the kid was mine I never took blood work r any thing they are going by what she told them

      • You have to contest that at the state level. The IRS doesn’t have anything to do with deciding who gets their checks taken – that information comes from the states.

  3. Kelly Harper Reply

    I owe SSI and I havent received my second stimulus check will SSI garnish it

  4. Maria Kirkland Reply

    Hi my name is maria i was waitin on my first stimulus check but child support took it i get ssi i don’t work can’t work naver went to court for child support. And i take care of 3 kids and pay my bills with my ssi how could they take my stimulus check

      • Vollie Brown Reply

        I haven’t received any stimulus check and I get disability but I owe back child support are they taking my stimulus

    • I’ve paid 12,000 in settlement & pay 296 a month now suffering in bills , how can they seize it this year , I’ve got the 1rst 2 stimulus?

  5. Jeannie Preston Reply

    If someone owes back child support will they get the third stimulus check?

  6. I am on SSI only can my stimulus check be garnished by a collector for hospital bills .

    • The second set of stimulus checks has protection from creditors (the first and third do not) on the federal level. Some states have added protections. Typically, however, once the checks hit your bank, they may be fair game for creditors.

    • Yes. You don’t need income to get the third stimulus check. As for child support, there is no garnishment in place for child support arrears for the third check, so you should receive the entire amount.

  7. The first two stimulus checks I got by check now I check on get my payment and it says that they’ve sent it to a bank account i no longer have what do I do?
    can’t even remember what bank account that is it just tells you the last four numbers

  8. Janet Smith Reply

    I was just wondering. If child support came out of the first stimulus check, can I get the tax rebate for the remainder if I’m on SSI and Disability? Or is that 8 hundred something just gone?

  9. I was overpaid by ssi is that the reason I haven’t received my 3rd stimulus?

  10. Carlo Eberhardt Reply

    I’m on ssi I signed a birth certificate back in 1992 then in 1998 she told me that the child was not mine is it any thing that I can do to find out about my situation.Thank you for your time and consideration

    • I assume that you are asking about fixing child support arrears? Your best bet is to address that with the state child support agency directly – my guess is that it may require a court filing to resolve the outstanding legal issues.

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