Workers’ compensation and child support

You have suffered an injury while working and have filed a workers’ compensation claim. When your claim is approved, will you get the full amount of the benefits to which you are entitled? That depends. Though in most cases, your benefits will not be subject to taxation, they could be reduced if you are in arrears for child support. This blog post will examine some aspects of this issue.

Colorado puts a priority on enforcing child support orders

In the past, county child support offices were charged garnishing workers’ compensation benefits from obligors (payers) who were in arrears. Those offices initiated garnishment of workers’ compensation benefits only when an obligee (receiver) of child support called to alert them of a problem.

Starting in 1994, the Child Support Enforcement office (CSE) in the Colorado Department of Human Services has had that responsibility. That agency now has the power to collect workers’ compensation payments from parents who owe child support. How does this work?

The garnishment system is automated and efficient

When a First Report of Injury form is submitted by the employer, the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment notifies Child Support Enforcement electronically. CSE then runs a cross-check on its data base of obligors who are in arrears. CSE then sends a Notice of Administrative Lien and Attachment (ALA) to the workers’ compensation insurance company and to the injured worker. Upon receipt of the ALA, the insurance company is required to withhold a portion of the workers’ compensation benefits and remit them to the Family Support Registry, after which the funds are paid to the obligee. Up to 50 percent of workers’ compensation benefits can be withheld.

Note that the process is set in motion when the First Report of Injury form is sent. This means that an injured worker can receive an ALA before the payment of benefits begins. The worker can also receive an ALA after a “non-lost time” injury. In the latter case, CSE will cancel the ALA, and the injured worker will still receive benefits for medical costs.

What if I can’t make my child support payments?

If a disability prevents you from working or limits your income, you may be able to obtain a modification in your child support payment. If this is the case, or you have questions about a workers’ compensation claim, speak with an attorney.

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