Minnesota dads may want to keep an eye on their pocketbooks. According to a report by The Washington Post, around 275,000 men could be left destitute when the U.S. Treasury Department ceases paper benefit checks.
The change, slated to take place March of next year, will allow state agencies to garnish 100 percent of Social Security and other benefits from those who owe back child support. Previously, states could seize only a 65 percent portion, as long as recipients opted for checks.
Now, The Treasury Department will use only electronic deposit, placing money into bank accounts or loading it onto prepaid debit cards. That means states can freeze the deposits, potentially causing thousands to lose their only source of income.
In many instances, the children to whom child support is owed are long grown, and the debt decades old. Much of the money is purported to be interest and fees accumulated when dads become disabled, institutionalized or jailed. Consequently, the benefits seized by states will go largely to governments as repayment for welfare provided to those men's children.
According to media sources, the Department of Health and Human Services, the agency that manages child support collection, is developing guidelines to make sure no one is put into severe poverty due to automatic collection. However, the impending change could serve as a warning to those who currently owe support.
Dads may want to consider pursuing legal modifications if they find themselves unable to pay. Generally, child support payments can be adjusted following a change in circumstance such as unemployment or permanent disability.
Source: The Washington Post, "Poor who owe child support could lose federal benefits," February 26