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I am writing today about a law that I feel puts the disabled at a huge disadvantage and that has affected my and my child’s life greatly because of my disability benefit. I have read that other states are now changing these laws and I hope Pennsylvania will be next.

I’ve been disabled for 10+ years, after 10 years of being an RN, having my very first job at the age of 15. I am divorced and have one child. My issue has to do with my child support and the laws of Pennsylvania (and most other states) that govern how child support is determined for someone on SSDI.

Normally, child support is determined by combining both parent’s income and then broken down into a percentage for each parent based on their income. For example, if Mom makes $30,000 and Dad makes $70,000 then Mom is responsible for 30% and Dad is responsible for 70% and would pay that 70% to Mom in monthly child support (if mom has custody of course). In PA, with one child, the total child support would be $1116 and Dad would pay Mom $770 per month.

BUT when SSDI is involved, and the custodial parent receives a check for their dependent child, the amount of that benefit check is subtracted from the TOTAL child support before the total is broken into percentages. Of course, Mom’s income would be much lower on SSDI.

In that case, if Mom’s income is $1500 each month from SSDI and she received a check for her child for $750 each month and Dad still made the $70,000 each year, the total child support would be around $1046 and then the $750 benefit is subtracted ($296) and then Dad would be ordered to pay monthly child support of $227 based on the percentages.

How is it possible that Dad gets this huge decrease in his ordered child support because Mom is suddenly disabled???? It makes no sense!!

My monthly income is $1547 (since they don’t count the $821 as my income) and my child’s father’s income is $10,000 per month, so our combined incomes create a child support total of $1278 total child support each month.

The check I receive for my daughter is deducted from this amount leaving $457 to be paid. Her father pays $321 of this amount and the rest comes from my $1547 each month in the amount of $136 assumed by me.

If you consider the total determined monthly support amount of $1278, my daughter’s father pays $321 which is only 25% of her total support even though his income is FIVE TIMES my income!

If you consider the SSDI check I receive on her behalf and EARNED through years of hard work for my daughter to be my income and add the $136, then 74% of her support comes FROM ME !!

The way the courts have balanced this for the first few years is to allow me to ask for alimony. This is not only humiliating, it has cost me a fortune in legal fees and has created tremendous hostility in my ex-husband as he sees this as me asking for support for me. All I want is to maintain a stable home for our child.

At this point, the original alimony order has expired and I am in the middle of having the case reviewed in the family courts and the alimony ordered once again. We were only married for 5 years, so this is very unlikely. And he, of course, can afford the best of the best attorney who keeps dragging it out and having it delayed as I fall further and further behind on bills each month.

I should NOT have to be asking for alimony to maintain a home for my child. I should get the child support that is deserved and needed to care for my child without this huge expensive battle.

If you are able to help in any way, I would be so eternally grateful, as would hundreds of other parents in Pennsylvania and thousands across our country.

Here is a link to just the beginning of the language I am finding in other states’ laws http://www.childsupportguidelines.com/articles/art200011.html

Some higher court cases have determined that SSDI is earned insurance policy and the benefits paid are income replacement, so the disabled, custodial parent should count the benefit for her child as her income and support should be calculated from there. That would mean that $821 should not be deducted from the equation as shown above but should be counted as earned income by me, as her mother.

If that were the case, her monthly child support total would be $1323 according to the PA calculators. My share would be 23% and his would be 77% based on our monthly incomes.

That would mean his share would be $1018 ordered monthly automatically and mine would be $305. Most importantly, it would mean my daughter would grow up in the home I’ve created for her without the worry of not being able to afford the home.

I am praying that someone will help those of us who can not afford to help ourselves.

Thank you for your time and consideration,
Leslie Ann Carlins

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  • Jeff S. October 1, 2011, 2:12 am

    I absolutely agree with you that you have no need to ask for the child support, it is something that is your right and the law should come up to help you in getting what you deserve. I think that you should get in touch with a good lawyer who can help you in getting a higher monthly child support. I think there are certain groups too that would be more than willing to be of help to people like you. I also think that the law in your region is very unfair and needs to be awakened to the needs of the people.

  • db July 18, 2012, 7:06 am

    Its sad that your whining about how much you get after receiving SSD benefits from all of us. You should take your handout and remove yourself from productive society. You should not be allowed to have more children. Its really old how all the women who want a divorce cry when they don’t get as much as the think they deserve. If you want out expect to get nothing. My wife wants a divorce and I will not do anything to help or pay child support. When you put some sick thought of what happiness is in front of your children then be prepared to raise your children without any help. all the guys i talk to feel the same.

    • kim July 14, 2014, 4:42 pm

      i do believe he is the father and he needs to support his child also… because she is sick and cant HELP IT!!!!!! doesnt mean he has the right not to help raise his child no matter what… you and your friends need help. there are some who use the system but not all do. she paid into this with her job before this happened. so she is using her money to. get off your band wagon and shut up

    • This dude is crazy July 11, 2015, 12:40 pm

      I think we should put you and all your male “fella’s” in a line and pour hot bacon grease on you and have ravenous wild boars eat you alive!!!
      You think being disabled and a single mom is “free”, we’re asking for a “handout”? REALLY ???? Geninious, we paid into the system….. It’s our disability insurance. People like you are what is wrong with the world today!!! Obviously, your wife divorced you for a good reason. You’re a lonely, contrite, pathetic soul. I can’t wait until you are disabled and see what it’s like. Cheers and enjoy you lonely bitter life.

    • Me August 17, 2015, 6:33 pm

      SSD Benefits are not from “all of us” They are based upon how much someone has earned throughout their lifetime. It is not welfare. SSI is for low income people. SSD, is not. Please get your facts straight before you attack someone.

  • StillStanding July 30, 2012, 8:09 pm

    To the small minded guy above “db” aka what…could it be… “Dead Beat”? In response to your idiocy…it’s obvious why anyone involved with you would want out. Threats alone are all you have to inspire someone to stay.
    Social Security Disability Insurance/SSDI is NOT *”from all of us”*.

    Let’s spell this out:

    It is called an INSURANCE benefit because it is paid out SPECIFICALLY as a result of the recipient’s contributions,
    AND…the amount is determined by HER contribution. Indeed SOME of THIS father’s $10k SHOULD be paid to better meet the needs of his child. Men like you are the *REASON* more than half of new mothers have written off loser men like you before even giving birth.

    Recap: SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY INSURANCE is just that. It is Insurance,and is a benefit paid out as a result of a contract made that MUST be honored. It is a legally and binding contract while the working person PAYS INTO THIS FOR DECADES….and it is a “BENEFIT” not a gift when it is payed out, as per the agreement in the event of a very narrowly and legally difined 100% disability.

    Sure all the guys you talk to at the strip club feel the same.

  • ron bernstein August 14, 2012, 10:48 pm


    All I am begging for feedback and advice and help in the following situation i will describe. I mind you that I swear on everything that is holy I will not exaggerate, nor play the part of victim or put blame etc. I am in a unique to me atleast situation and not found anyone else who is in a similiar position. I was Injured in the after math of 9/11 and prior to that i was a self made man who earned an honest living making mid 6 figures. I was married, lived in westchester NY to my college sweetheart first and only true love. When I got hurt, money stopped and we all know money problems lead to many demises. She/we were lucky because i married a multi multi millionaire who’s daddy didn’t like the fact I didnt come from money and did not want to continue supporting her lifestyle when the husband should. her lifestyle to 99% of normal people are disgusting use of greed, power, and money manipulation. we had a 3 yr old daughter who was daddys little girl. One day he decides to give his daughter an ultimatum. I am sick of supporting both of you, either divorce him or your cut off. I was still recovering from 2 botched back/ spinal and nerve damage surguries in which the doctor messed up and I had grounds for a law suit. I was in the middle of a major mental and physical breakdown alone and living in my car with my only family my mom in the state of FL> I was a wreck, i needed serious help, ……the divorce agreement was done with her atty and my 5 dollar an hour legal aid and was drafted with joint custody she had physical custody. visitations and holidays etc were written and agreed. Because i was in no position to pay child support we agreed on $25.00 per month, until i would or could change my financial situation via employment. At the time i had just got denied for disability but later recieved SSDI which included a monthly income from the gov of 2000 for me 800 for my daughter as child support. ( i never sued the doctors because i was out of my mind emotional and all i cared about and thought was how, why, she could never, i didnt do anything wrong, etc..

    i was transported to florida to find out the F$%K up the doctor did on me was not something which could be fixed. The only place i could be to recover both mentally and physically was under the care of my mom and a few specialist in florida who are not PILL PUSHERS but respected doctors who all confirmed my fear of never being able to live a life where I could rebound and move on. Sorry if i am jumping all around but bottom line was she recieves money from my SSDI for child support and I continued to send her the 25 bucks because in a sick way she thought it was the only child support i payed.

    statisticly 85% of out of state parents who leave when thier child is under 4 and can only see them 2-3 times a year because of financially restraint lose touch, lose connection, and slowly fade out like the sunset. Because I lost everything i ever cared about and loved, my wife, being an active dad, supporting and providing a home and having the respect and teamwork i so yearned for being married, my life goals changed. No poor me, no blaming everyone, I had 3 heart attacks from the stress of going through what i did drs called it PTSD and depression. I came to grips that for me success will have to be measured and accepted in other ways. I spoke to my daughter regular basis. She issued a restraining order while I was living in Florida and she in NY because she claimed I called to much.

    Its hard to save money when you recieve such little in perspective my out of pocket cash meds un covered because of the donut hole were 1000 per month. Soon after my daughter began to speak in complete sentences my ex stopped calling or writting me regarding the big things a child goes thru from losing her teeth to riding a bike and now beginnings of puberty. I am expected to live maybe til im 55 yrs old because of the 3 heart attacks which should have killed me but didnt. I have begged borrowed and have done everything to vissit her and bring her to fl with no help from her mother. As far as my daughter knows, without my doing is “mommy lies, daddy tells me the truth, mommy is mean to him and i hate it” She said to me last year daddy please dont fight for me with mommy because she takes it out on me.

    she never once cared about putting our daughter first, i did and learned to swallow alot of shit in order to keep my promise to my girl. Well, i recently came into some money and as always anything would go towards seeing her. I stopped paying the extra 25 bucks because she 100% cut ties with me via communication and any co parenting. She got remaried i thought great now she will be happy and not focus on me. I MADE RESERVATIONS TO SEE HER LABOR DAY WEEKEND (right thats the one at the end of the summer?) prior to i asked her if she was going away this yr and if so tell me. this weekend holiday is mine as per the divorce agreement. i made flights and hotel reservations and fowarded it to her. she says shes taking our daughter and will be away and by the way you owe me 5 monthes back child support. huh???? you get it every month auto deposited. she said that is seperate from the 25 bucks. TWENTY FIVE DOLLARS PEOPLE. SHE JUST SPENT 15 K ON SLEEP AWAY CAMP FOR 7 WEEKS. SHE SAID NY state doesnt recognize the 780 p/m as she called it supplemental as child support and i owe her $125 by the end of 4 days from today. i cant afford a lawyer to take her to court to have the judge tell her what to do and to stop doing things like make it almost impossible for her dad who despite it all is as close if not closer than any other divorced dad in another state financially challenged and physically screwed. She feels she can do what ever she wants, threaten me, disregard the only thing that matters is the benefit to our daughter and continue to just make it more difficult and truth be told taxing on my life because my stress will end my life quicker. im 43, 18 percent of a heart left, but its so filled with love and i am alive only for my daughter. The question is again ” THE CHILD SUPPORT SHE RECIEVES FROM MY SSDI DOES IT SERVE AS TOTAL CHILD SUPPORT OR DO I NEED TO SEND HER THE 25 BUCKS BECAUSE THE STATE OF NY DOES NOT RECOGNIZE THE MONEY FROM SSDI TO MY DAUGHTERS ACCOUNT AS CHILD SUPPORT.


  • William L. October 2, 2012, 6:07 pm

    REALLY? I have 50/50 custody of my special needs daughter and BECAUSE MOM DOES NOT WANT TO GO BACK TO WORK I have to pay her to be a mother………..I don’t get it, how does she get paid to be a mom, while I have to pay to be a father? I am now on SSDI and STILL she gets paid to be a mom and I have to pay to be a father…….TOTAL BULL….THE SYSTEM IS TOTALLY FLAWED and in favor of women, talk about discrimination…….and mom is fully capable of working SHE JUST DOESN’T WANT TO and lets not even get into the fact that she is living with her boyfriend BILL FREE………….Or the fact that for the first 10 years of my daughters life I had her 5 out of 7 days a week……PA SUCKS .

    I used to be able to pay for vacation, trips and activities for my daughter now I have to pay her mom so she can pay for beer, cigarettes and gambling……but I shouldn’t be bitter right? I have to support 2 households and ruin the standard of living for my daughter so her mom doesn’t have to go back to work………YA RIGHT……..KMA

  • smh October 26, 2012, 12:47 pm

    The sense of entitlement of some people… it makes me want to puke.

    If you don’t have the means to care for your child, how is that anybody else’s fault or responsibility?

    If the other parent does have the means then perhaps you should give the other parent custody.

    Your ex-spouse is not your parent and is not responsible for you. Period.

    • Twinmom May 12, 2017, 6:35 pm

      Your remark infuriated me. My ex husband has primary custody because I am epileptic. Child support was put into place. Just like EVERY divorce with children. At the time I was working. He told me he wasn’t worried about child support. That was always an agreement. When I had to quit working because of my seizures, he was still cooperative. For over a year. I saw my kids for months at a time. Weeks at a time. Anytime I wanted to. Then he pulled the controlling man card. I decided to move on. I was still waiting on my court date. 3 YEARS. When I FINALLY was approved, as we all know your children also get back pay and benefits. He decides to start the whole you cant see the kids because you dont pay child support. Plus I moved on. 7 years Ive been fighting him. He claims I owe him 72,000 and he gets 2,000 a month and he quit his job. So dont you DARE sit there and say courts are all against men. Im disabled and im being punished because my ex has connections. No child deserves not to have both parents. When 1 parent has all the control its disgusting.

  • smh October 26, 2012, 1:16 pm

    The facts are as follows: you are only entitled to $1116 per child In PA
    AND you are receiving that amount.

    If you do not think that is enough – well you should have thought of that before you conceived in the state of PA.

    We ALL have to pay for and accept our poor decisions – or should anyway.

  • smh October 26, 2012, 3:30 pm

    And the $821 should NOT be counted as your income. You are receiving it for the child. You would not be getting the $821 if you did not have a child.

  • Joe O February 1, 2013, 3:37 pm

    Ron B: Unfortunately, Most states do not recognize SSDI family benefits as a replacement for child support. While not the same issue, I had something similar happen to me, what was really messed up, my ex ended up getting some lump-sum back payment of about 25k from social security which she wasn’t entitled, as we had only been married for 2 years. (It was a lump sum to her, not my daughter. But the courts wouldn’t recognize the money from SSDI as child support. I was on fairly good terms with my ex at that time, and she reduced the child support to $50/mo. THEN the state went and attached the child support garnishment to my SSDI Benefits, so I had been paying her AND she was getting a check from the state for child support (directly taken from my benefits), so I ended up paying her twice for over a year.

    William H: If you didn’t expect to pay for your child(ren) until they became their own adults, then you shouldn’t have had kids in the first place. It doesn’t matter if you’re married or divorced, you brought those kids into this world, and they your responsibility until the end. The other thing, is if you have 50/50 shared PHYSICAL custody, and believe that your daughters standard of living has significantly declined living with her mother, you can always go back to court and revisit the custody agreement, provided you can show that can provide a better home and care for your daughter. If you can’t, then keep your wallet open.

    DB: All I can say to you is understand what you’re talking about before you open your mouth, as currently you sound like a fool.

  • rn March 17, 2015, 8:28 pm

    I pay $482 child support and only get $386 a month for my ssdi.. my kids moms make alot of money and don’t need all my money. I know I should help but I can’t live myself. I believe the best thing to do is suicide. That way my kids will prolly be taking care of and the world doesn’t have to worry about me. Thanks child support..

  • Sc312001 May 27, 2015, 12:19 am

    The law has been Ammended through the Supreme Court Domestic Relations Rules Committee 4/29/15 eff 7/1/15
    Favorable to custodial parent whom created Ssdi derivitive for child.