When courts order a parent to pay child support as part of a divorce decree, they do so because they believe that, as a matter of public policy, both parents share a responsibility to contribute to their child's upbringing. Sometimes, however, a parent who has been ordered to pay fails to do so, despite the court's order. In those cases, the other parent is often left wondering how they can go about getting the back amount owed to them.
When a parent is working and not paying the required child support, the other parent can seek a wage garnishment through the court and the nonpaying parent's employer. The issue is a little more problematic if the nonpaying parent is not employed but is receiving Social Security benefits. If those benefits are from Supplemental Security Insurance, they cannot be garnished, as SSI is deemed to be welfare. However, benefits that are derived from Social Security Disability Income or Social Security retirement benefits are treated as earned income and thus are eligible to be garnished.