A fugitive people within a nation is tyranny.

Posts tagged ‘social security’

Deadbeat Dad not even a Dad

by Charlie Mitchell

“Is it working?” That’s an easy question most of the time. Problem is, when lawmakers and regulation writers fix something broken, they rarely ask. They stick to their fix whether it works or not.

Alaexander-child-support-victimConsider the predicament of Carnell Alexander.

In 1991, Alexander, who lives in Michigan, was pulled over for a traffic violation. When police “ran” his license, an arrest warrant popped up. Nonpayment of child support. Cuffed, taken to jail.

Talk about ruining your day.

It seems an ex-girlfriend had identified him as the father of her son who was born in 1978.

He didn’t think he could be the father, so when he posted bond he decided to find her. She wasn’t at the address in any of the public records. He knew her legal name may have changed and he couldn’t afford a private investigator.

He was on his own. Eventually, they met. “Well, no,” she said (or something like that) when he asked if he had a son. The mom confessed that she had become lean of funds and applied for public benefits. The paperwork required she name the father of her child. She didn’t mean any harm, but no name, no check. She felt she had no choice. And she was sorry, by the way. Paternity tests confirmed Alexander was not the father.

Same fate could await many, many men in Mississippi.

Now, there are a more twists and turns in the facts of the Michigan case, but we’ve got enough for now.

Let’s look at this from the viewpoint of those who decided a mom could not get a check unless the name of a dad was provided.

That’s a reasonable rule, isn’t it?

Why should taxpayers subsidize clothing, food and housing for a child when a biological parent, perhaps with a fat paycheck, has danced away?

Lots of dads do. Welfare rolls could be chopped if more men would be men and meet the obligations that come with parenthood.

It was a good fix. If it worked.

Back to Alexander. The state insists it tried to serve him with court papers, but the person paid to provide the summons lied about it. He wasn’t served. (Seems to be a lot of lying in Michigan.)

When Alexander did go before a judge, most recently in February, she refused to laugh it all off and send him on his way. Instead, she ruled that because so much time had passed he might have to pay the state $30,000 for aid to a child that is not his, that he didn’t know existed for more than 10 years and is now, what, 37 years old? There’s also some discrepancy in the paperwork; perhaps at one time in some way he did agree to support the child, but likely before the paternity test ruled him out.

Slippery slopes leading to nonsensical conclusions are not at all unusual in a bureaucracy, any bureaucracy. Explosive program growth is part of this, too.

Desires to help lead to programs, programs lead to rules and then the rules need rules. The premise that a child should not go hungry is valid. The premise that parents, if able, must support their own children is valid. Rarely, however, does the machinery of government take a step back to see (1) if desired goals are being met and (2) if not, why not.

Instead, more and more rules are created and less and less efficiency results. No one understands the IRS Code. The document containing the law, rules, regulations and interpretations of federal tax law is 70,000 pages. The average Bible is 900; the U.S. Constitution could easily fit on 12. Social Security kicked off as a required pension plan with contributions returned to retirees. It was never to cost a penny of public funds, but is running deficits of about $77 billion each year.

The takeaway, of course, is that in ways large and small good ideas don’t always pan out or, said another way, fail to perform as intended.

Some legal scholars now advocate every new law at every level of governance contain an automatic repeal — forcing a review.

Not a bad idea.

But Alexander has no time for abstractions. He’s still got that $30,000 debt hanging over him. “I feel like I’m standing in front of a brick wall with nowhere to go,” he said.

Regulators may propose mandatory paternity tests going forward, but that adds time, expense, confusion expense and more complications.

Another fix to fix the fix of the fix.

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U.S. Law with a Serious Flaw

homelessA new law is on the books that promises great harm to people that can afford it the least.

The law bars creditors from seizing Social Security payments and other federal benefits for veterans, the poor, the aged and the disabled. But banks often said they could not determine the source of customers’ deposits and allowed creditors to garnish accounts containing federal funds. The new rule adds electronic tags to automatically deposited government payments and requires banks to protect tagged deposits made in the prior two months.

Here’s the issue: The new rule will still allow seizure of all funds in an account if a state is trying to collect unpaid child support. That may seem to be a good way to get tough on deadbeat dads, but it will cause undue harm.

In a letter to the commissioner of Social Security, the National Consumer Law Center and 72 other advocacy groups pointed out that 70 percent of uncollected child support is owed by people who live below the poverty line and much of the debt arose because support obligations were not revised when the debtor became disabled, unemployed or incarcerated. Since the debts are often old, the amounts have been inflated by interest and penalties.

To both collect the debts and avoid driving these debtors into complete destitution, the law allows Social Security to withhold up to 65 percent of a benefit to cover unpaid child support — and to pay the recipient the rest. Recipients of reduced benefits have been able to shield the remainder by receiving their payment via paper check and simply cashing it. Starting next year, all government benefits will be automatically deposited. If the rule is not amended, the full amount will be subject to seizure.

The way to fix the problem is to rework the garnishment rule so that it treats child support debts the same way it treats other debts. Fixing the rule would not excuse nonpayment of child support. Rather, it would achieve what the law intended by ensuring that no one is impoverished by ruthless debt collection.

original post at New York Times: February 23, 2012

Paperless Child Support Payments May Cost Poor Fathers Only

check book slavery

Old child support debts could cost thousands of poor men their only income next year because of a policy aimed at reducing the cost to the government of mailing paper checks to pay federal benefits.

The Treasury Department will start paying benefits electronically next March. It will stop issuing the paper checks that many people rely on to safeguard a portion of their benefits from states trying to collect back child support.

States can freeze the bank accounts of people who owe child support. A separate Treasury Department rule, in place since last May in a preliminary form, guarantees them the power to freeze Social Security, disability and veterans’ benefits that have been deposited into those accounts.

Once paper checks are eliminated, about 275,000 people could lose access to all of their income, advocates say.

“It’s kind of Orwellian, what’s being set up here for a segment of the population,” says Johnson Tyler, an attorney who represents poor and disabled people collecting federal benefits. “It’s going to be a nightmare in about a year unless something changes.”

In many cases, the bills are decades old and the children long grown. Much of the money owed is interest and fees that add up when men are unable to pay because they are disabled, institutionalized or imprisoned.

Most of the money will go to governments, not to the children of the men with child support debts, independent analyses show. States are allowed to keep child support money as repayment for welfare previously provided for those children.

In some instances, the grown children are supporting their fathers.

The rule change illustrates how a politically desirable goal like cracking down on so-called deadbeat dads can have complicated, even counterproductive, effects in practice.

“The rule doesn’t look at the fact that the money is mostly interest, the money is going to the state, the kids are usually adults, and it’s leaving the payer with nothing,” says Ashlee Highland, a legal aid attorney who works with the poor of Chicago.

Highland says her office has clients in eviction, in foreclosure and unable to pay their bills because of states’ aggressive efforts to collect back child support.

Marcial Herrera, 44, has had his bank account frozen repeatedly since 2009, blocking his access to $800 a month in government benefits. Unable to work because of a severe back injury he suffered in 2000, Herrera fell behind on child support. He owes more than $7,000 – not to his 22-year-old son, but to the state of New York, because his son received welfare years earlier.

Herrera sought help in court and had his son speak on his behalf, but the judge could not erase the thousands he already owed.

“I’m just waiting for them to lock me up,” he says. “I don’t see no other way of me repaying that debt.”

A legal aid attorney suggested Herrera collect his benefits by paper check. It costs him $15 to cash the check each month, but at least he can be sure that he will have money to pay his bills.

States have had the ability to freeze accounts for years. That’s why people like Herrera rely on paper checks to safeguard part of their income.

Starting next March, that option will disappear. The Treasury Department will deposit federal benefits directly into bank accounts or load them onto prepaid debit cards. Either way, state child support agencies will be able to seize all of it.

Electronic payments are expected to save the government $1 billion over the next 10 years, the Treasury Department says. It costs the government about $1 to mail a check, compared with about 10 cents for an electronic transfer.

The Treasury Department understands that forcing people into direct deposit could deprive them of all of their income, say officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the rule-writing process.

States can garnish only 65 percent of benefits before the federal government sends them out. But the limit does not apply once the money is in an account and states ask banks to freeze it, according to a Treasury Department memo obtained by The Associated Press.

A Treasury spokesman declined to discuss the policy. The officials who spoke on condition of anonymity say they believe the policy is legally unavoidable. They described a dilemma: Restrain states trying to collect child-support debts or risk depriving thousands of people of their only income.

Treasury’s legal justification assumes that receiving a paper check is still an option, says Tyler, the Brooklyn attorney.

Letting state agencies seize the money contradicts the public stance of the Department of Health and Human Services, the federal agency in charge of child support collections. The department does not want states to collect child support so aggressively that poor people lose their only income, spokesman Ken Wolfe says.

“Child support enforcement – getting that money and passing it on to parents and children – is a measure to fight poverty, and it doesn’t make sense to accomplish that by impoverishing somebody else,” he says.

Wolfe said HHS is developing guidelines for states to “make sure we’re not putting someone into deep poverty as a result of an automatic collection.” He declined to provide details of those plans.

Lawyers from HHS agreed with Treasury’s decision to let states seize benefits, according to the Treasury memo.

An early version of the Treasury department rule protected people from having their federal benefits frozen by debt collectors – including private collection agencies and states seeking back child support.

State child support agencies replied in public comments on the proposed rule that blocking their access to people’s benefits would cause great harm to parents and children receiving child support.

HHS research suggests the policy could deepen the hardship for people who collect benefits as well.

People who owe large amounts of child support are almost universally poor. Among those owing $30,000 or more, three-fourths had no reported income or income of less than $10,000, HHS says. Many had their earnings interrupted by disability or jail time and are unlikely to repay the child support debt, the government-sponsored research says.

The usual methods of collecting back child support often don’t work with the poor. States typically start by garnishing wages. If that doesn’t work, they can suspend driver’s licenses, revoke passports and take away professional credentials.

Those measures have little effect on poor people without jobs who rely on federal benefits. They have no wages to garnish and no passports. Many can’t afford a car and do not need a driver’s license.

State child support agencies echo the HHS view that child support enforcement should not be so draconian that people end up with nothing.

“You don’t want the noncustodial parent to go out and be living on the streets. You’re not going to collect anything at that point,” says Tom Shanahan, spokesman for the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.

The Idaho department requires people who owe child support to show good faith by paying a minimum amount and seeking jobs when they are out of work, Shanahan says.

The White House is reviewing the final version of the rule. Its impact so far has been limited, legal-aid lawyers say, because people can still use paper checks. A White House spokeswoman did not respond a request for comment.

In a letter sent last week, the National Consumer Law Center and dozens of other groups called on the head of the Social Security Administration to withdraw his support for the rule.

“While both current and past due child support orders should be paid,” the letter said, it should not result “in the complete impoverishment of recipients” of federal benefits.

The issue has failed to raise alarm in part because most people feel little in common with men labeled deadbeat dads, says John Vail, an attorney with the Center for Constitutional Litigation who provided legal services for the poor for decades.

“There’s not a lot of sympathy for deadbeat dads, and justly so,” Vail says. “But everybody’s got limits, and I think people who have never walked a mile in some of those old, worn-out shoes are a little quick to rush to judgment about what that life might be like.”

from the Huffington Post

Child Support: New Wrinkle to Garnishing Your Social Security

decisions about wealth and lifestyleHere’s an off-the-wall retirement planning wrinkle.

New rules take affect May 1 that make it much harder for creditors to garnish Social Security, veterans pensions, Supplemental Security Income and Social Security Disability from recipients who owe them money.

The new U.S. Treasury rule requires all banks to determine whether an account contains these protected funds. If an account contains protected funds, the bank is required to protect two months’ of benefit payments from garnishment. Protection of more than two months’ of benefit payments requires additional court filings and in practice, makes these funds immune from seizure by creditors, says Margot Saunders, an attorney for the National Consumer Law Center.

It works like this. You fail to pay your car payment and the car dealer comes and takes the car, then he sues and gets a judgment against you for the remainder of what you owe him. He goes to the bank and attempts to garnish your money. Under the new rule, the creditor can pick any day he wants for the garnishment and the bank must respond by looking at your account for the previous 60 days. Let’s say you received a $1,100 Social Security payment one month and another $1,100 Social Security payment the next month. That $2,200 is protected. If there is any other money above and beyond that amount that has been deposited in the account during that period and is still sitting there, the creditor gets it. If there is no other money, the creditor is out of luck. He gets bupkis.

There are two exceptions, Saunders says: money you owe Uncle Sam and money you owe in child support. If you have these kind of debts, an attorney or the IRS can petition Social Security directly and collect.

If a debt collector begs to differ, Saunders points them to this statement on the Social Security website. She says garnishment of Social Security has always been against the law, but creditors have found ways around it. This change in the rule should eliminate those loopholes. On the other hand, if you fear you might find yourself in this kind of debt-collection dilemma during your retirement, the best way to protect yourself is to have your Social Security check deposited into an account that you don’t use for anything else.

Oppressive Government: Licenses & Child Support

by E.J. Manning

moneyTo receive federal grants, each state must require license suspension as a penalty for failure to pay child support. Most states have been on board with this policy since around 2007. Under Title IV-D of the Social Security Act, states are required to pass laws that “withhold or suspend, or to restrict the use of driver’s licenses, professional and occupational licenses, and recreational and sporting licenses” of delinquent child support debtors. In Texas alone the license-suspension statute includes fifty-six state agencies responsible for issuing a variety of licenses: appraisers, vets, chiropractors, plumbers, air conditioning and pest control specialists, as well as hunting and fishing licenses.

The purpose of this exploitative tyranny is to drive fear into your soul, to make you crawl on glass, to humiliate you, to make you a butt-kisser. Clearly, the suspension of a citizen’s drivers license is a bad idea where continuing to make an income is concerned. Revoking licenses also give the  government too much control over individual liberties. While it may drive fear and compliance into the hearts of some, most commonly, it  makes a bad situation worse. It has the consequence of making oppressed persons angry and more resentful of the government and of the ex spousal relationship.  The oppressed person may withdraw and become themselves from society, becoming less compliant and even enraged. The oppressed may become part of an underground workforce as they continue to drive at risk with a suspended license, that is, if they can work. Certainly, an attitude that leans towards outrage is the most common reality versus obsequious compliance.

These laws have unintended consequences on decent people that work hard, those that are struggling to get by in a dead economy, or those that need their money the most, the disabled. Many that are able-bodied may begin job hopping because they cannot survive on a small amount left for them in their paycheck. Many times, child support oppression prevents them from catching up entirely, and they become part of a spiraling negative cycle, unable to work their way out. You may be labeled as a liar. Those that are able take a job in another country sometimes do so. Of course, once you leave, you won’t be able to return until you pay your debt. For those that have a passport, the system is only too willing to confiscate your passport in the hope of controlling you. The politicians of the past and the present have a built an insurmountable wall of class oppression for divorced parents.The state disregards any and all personal circumstances, labeling you as a deadbeat. They make no effort to examine the circumstance in your individual situation. If you are behind on your support “you are a liar and a deadbeat.” The government is so concerned about child’s support, they are unaware that they are hurting the child by oppressing the non-custodial parent and reducing his or her integrity. The custodial parent and government insinuate that the other parent is a deadbeat, which damages the child further for life. As far as licenses go, when you get behind again the system will take your license again at their will, often without telling you for months. Do you think that is right? Isn’t that fraud?

Making an agreement with prompt and effective communication doesn’t ensure success. You can be in full communication with the state office with a planned payment for getting caught up, and they take your license anyway. Many times, you are notified after the fact, and three weeks late by mail with a fifteen or twenty day appeal period based on the date of the letter. When the state mails the letter three weeks late, you are denied due process under the law. That is mail fraud as well. This is illegal, but that is not their concern. Deadbeats are worthless. The wheels of the system keep turning like a rusty axle. The system has “authority.” What is my advice to you. You are better off not stressing yourself out by taking their phone calls because the end result being positive is unlikely. This creates a further rift between the oppressed and the tyrannical oppressor, who could be nothing more than a poorly-paid state employee that cares little about their honesty and has a big chip on their shoulder that is probably larger than yours.

It’s a big power trip. The government doesn’t really care about the child, the mother or the father, whether the non-custodial parents are employed, or whether they live at all. All is assumed. Of course, most of you probably know this. All said, a woman can flip out just as easily as a man from the pressure induced by non-caring people and government entities seek to oppress. Ultimately, the system will be rewarded with destruction because oppression doesn’t last forever. That is history.

Finally on your credit record, your license suspension may show up without explanation, which may affect your ability to get insurance.  You may be required to pay more for insurance because of a credit bureau report while the system seeks to rob you of more than you could possibly afford. This affects your credit score, which impacts your ability to borrow to pay child support or for any other purpose. How does making a nation full of enraged men (and women) fulfill the purpose of the country? That is for you to decide. We have become a nation of petty people that satisfy ourselves through the exploitation of others. At least the people that are part of the occupy Wall Street movement are making a noise and working for change through public protest. Oppressed men and women that are under the thumb the Bradley Amendment just hold it in and keep on taking it when we need to fight for fair government and due process under the law as minimum standards. If you have a story or want to share your testimony, just post it here. Giving us your take is completely free.

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Disability Income & Child Support

Can a custodial parent collect overdue payments from social security recipients of disability? Yes, according to case 79-4. The SSA can retain a percentage that could hold the IRS responsible to pay delinquent income tax debt. However, state laws may prohibit this from happening.

§6331 of the Internal Revenue Code gives the Secretary of the Treasury the right to collect or seize control disabilities. §6305 of IRS Code authorizes the Treasury, after receiving a certification by the Minister of Health, Education and Welfare under section 452 (b) of the Social Security Act on the amount of delinquent child support obligation for assessing and collecting the individual ‘ amount in the same way, the same limitations as if such amount were income tax collection.

The IRS Code provides that no interest or penalties  are to be assessed or levied, and observations by the IRS must be disabled for delinquent child support debtor 60 days before the garnishment of benefits. In other words, if payments are being made, the IRS cannot double dip those payments by collecting more.

What does  this mean for you? This depends on what side you are on. If you believe that the non-custodial parent has filed for social security disability, you or your lawyer should be to contact SSA with evidence of delinquency. If you live in the country of the debtor’s mother, then it may be necessary to work through the child support agency in your locale which issues statements in any state child support.

You must be aware that the SSA (social security) does not reveal whether the other parent filed for disability since that would be a violation of privacy laws.

 

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