Pursuant to the 2018 Child Support Guidelines, "[i]f a parent receives social security benefits or SSDI benefits and the children of the parties receive a dependency benefit derived from that parent's benefit, the amount of the dependency benefit shall be added to the gross income of that parent." Thus, disability benefits are taken into account when determining a noncustodial parent's child support obligation. Recently, in Leavitt v. Restuccia, the Appeals Court described how to calculate that benefit as part of a noncustodial parent's income for child support purposes.
In Massachusetts, the amount of weekly child support to be paid by a parent is calculated by relying on the Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines, which are published by the Executive Office of the Massachusetts Trial Court and updated every three years. Although it is a simple proposition to say that child support orders are largely based on the parents' respective incomes, it is important to understand what is included as "income" by the Probate and Family Court in determining a child support obligation. The Guidelines themselves take the broadest possible approach to defining income, stating that "income is defined as gross income from whatever source, regardless of whether that income is recognized by the Internal Revenue Code or reported to the Internal Revenue Service or state Department of Revenue or other taxing authority." The Guidelines go on to list 29 different types of income which are presumptively included in a parent's income for child support purposes, including, among other items, salaries, wages, overtime, tips, commissions, severance pay, royalties, interest and dividends, bonuses, certain government benefits, workers' compensation, distributions from trusts, pension and annuity income, capital gains, lottery or gambling winnings, prizes and awards, and rental income.
Following what is described as a comprehensive review of the Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines Task Force, the Chief Justice of Massachusetts Trial Court released new Child Support Guidelines that became effective on August 1, 2013. In the Trial Court's June 20, 2013 Press Release, it is noted that these revised Guidelines, which supersede any previous Guidelines, are intended to take into consideration current economic realities facing families in Massachusetts.