When a parent paying child support receives social security benefits, whether disability or retirement, those benefits are considered income for the purposes of determining child support. A dependent child of a recipient of social security receives dependent benefits, and the benefits are paid to the custodial parent. These benefits are an integral part of the parent’s social security benefits, as they derive from the parents eligibility for the program and his past contributions into the program.
How are these dependency benefits treated for the purposes of child support? The New Hampshire Supreme Court ruled In the Matter of Denise Angley-Cook and John W. Cook that a parent with a child support responsibility is entitled to a dollar for dollar credit for any social security dependency benefits the other parent receives that are derived from their benefits.
Therefore, the Supreme Court held that the support should be calculated as follows:
"the amount of the . . . dependency benefits should be included in the income of the noncustodial parent and the guidelines should then be applied to that amount." Rosenberg, 697 N.E.2d at 991; see also Miller, 890 P.2d at 578. The noncustodial parent is then allowed a credit equal to the amount of the dependency benefits, and the net amount of the noncustodial parent’s support obligation is the difference between the support amount determined by the court to be correct under the guidelines minus the amount of the credit. See Rosenberg, 697 N.E.2d at 991. An exception exists if the support amount determined by the court to be correct under the guidelines is less than the dependency benefits. See id. at 991 n.7 "In such case, the total support obligation is simply equal to the amount of the . . . dependency benefits, and the noncustodial parent would not owe any additional amount." Id.
Basically, the calculation boils down to everyone’s income goes into the pot, and if the child support amount is less then the dependency benefits, there is no child support due from the obligor parent.