Can I collect child support from VA Benefits?
With more and more soldiers returning to the workforce and many being awarded a VA rating for injuries during their time of service, the question has come up many times to our office about the possibility of getting child support from VA benefits or from the GI Bill if the soldier is going back to school.
In the past, VA benefits were not an attachable source of income for child support. There have been changes to the way soldiers qualify and receive VA benefits in lieu of retirement benefits that would affect their tax status. If the soldier is getting a combo VA benefits in place of some retirement benefits, it may be possible to attach to the taxable portion of the benefit. The Social Security Act has stated:
The Social Security Act [42 U.S.C. 659(h)(1)(A)(ii)(V)] provides that if a veteran is eligible to receive military retired/retainer pay and has waived a portion of his/her retired/retainer pay in order to receive disability compensation from VA, that portion of the VA benefit received in lieu of retired/retainer pay is subject to garnishment for child support.
The Department of Veterans Affairs has issued regulations pursuant to 38 U.S.C. 5307 that provide for an apportionment of VA benefits between the veteran and his/her dependents under certain circumstances. VA regulations at 38 CFR Section 3.450(a)(1)(ii) provides that, if the veteran is not residing with his or her spouse, or if the veteran’s children are not residing with the veteran and the veteran is not reasonably discharging his or her responsibility for the spouse’s or children support, all or any part of the veteran’s pension, compensation, or emergency officers’ retirement pay may be apportioned. If you think you fit into this category, contact your local child support office for help or contact your family law attorney to have a specific income withholding order established for your case to attach to the VA Benefits. Private agencies generally will not be able to work with VA Benefits. The ability to attach to GI Bill Benefits is a state decision. Please contact the county or state that is enforcing your order and see of this applies to your situation. Private agencies cannot issue a withholding order for GI Bill Benefits.
Military pay for an active duty or reserve soldier is attachable income for child support. If you have a noncustodial parent who is active duty military, you should be collecting child support! Income deduction orders should be sent to DFAS so wages can be garnished.