Husband had been involved in a motor vehicle accident. He sustained severe injuries that left him permanently and totally disabled.  The court ruled that husband would not be required to pay child support as long as his only source of funds was a monthly social security disability benefit.

The circuit court denied the husband’s petition to offset his obligation to pay a portion of the accrued medical expenses of his child.  Husband wanted to pay with the child’s social security dependent benefit.  And to terminate the husband’s future medical support obligation to the child.  

The court found that any amount in excess of the parent’s monthly child support obligation paid by Social Security is a gratuity that belongs to the child.  It should not be set off against a separate obligation for medical expenses.

On appeal, the husband contends that the circuit court erred in denying setoff.  Where the dependent benefit was secured through the husband’s contributions to social security during his years of employment.  And that the circuit court abused its discretion in refusing to terminate the husband’s medical support obligation where undisputed evidence established that the husband had a substantial change in circumstances.

Husband argues that the nature and purpose of his’s medical support obligation and that of the dependent benefit are the same.  In accordance with the Illinois Supreme Court’s decision in In re Marriage of Henry, the dependent benefit should have offset his obligation for his share of the accrued, uncovered medical expenses of his child.

The court considered the nature and purpose of the social security dependent benefit and that of the medical support obligation.  It said that it could not conclude that a dependent benefit is intended to cover unpredictable, contingent costs such as uncovered health care expenses and extraordinary expenses.

Accordingly, the circuit court did not err in denying the motion to apply the dependent benefit to offset the husband’s obligation to pay his share of the child’s medical expenses that had accrued.

IRMO Rash and King, 406 Ill.App.3d 381.

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