Child Support Agencies May Directly Intervene in a Wisconsin Worker’s Compensation Claim

Workers injured on the job in Wisconsin are typically eligible to receive worker’s compensation benefits, which includes wage replacement and disability income, as well as reimbursement for any related medical bills. The wage replacement and disability benefits have two great advantages:

  1. Worker’s compensation income is tax free, meaning that injured workers do not pay income taxes (or any other taxes) on workers comp benefits.
  2. Worker’s compensation income can generally not be assigned by creditors. This means if a worker owes debts to various parties, they cannot garnish workers comp income to collect outstanding debts.

These special benefits help injured workers financially when they need to focus on healing and getting back to work.

There is, however, one major exception to this rule: Child or family support obligations are expressly assignable by county child support agencies under the Wisconsin worker’s compensation statutes. Said differently, while almost any other creditor cannot intervene in a worker’s compensation claim to collect outstanding debts, governmental agencies responsible for collecting child or family support payments have the right to extract income from worker’s compensation benefits.

How the Child Support Assignment Process Works

Pursuant to Wis. Stat. § 102.27, county child support agencies – including those in other states – may intervene in any Wisconsin worker’s compensation case. The agencies that oversee the Wisconsin worker’s compensation system (i.e. the Department of Workforce DevelopmentOffice of Worker’s Compensation Hearings, and Labor & Industry Review Commission) consider any and all worker’s compensation payments, whether in the form of temporary total disability or permanent partial disability/loss of earning capacity, subject to child support deductions. This is the case regardless of whether or not the injured worker is in arrears (i.e. has past due support payments). Before payment is made by a worker’s compensation carrier, the county child support agency will notify all interested parties of their assignment of the claim. Then, when any payments are made, the child support owed will be automatically deducted from the worker’s compensation payment and any remainder is then paid out to the injured worker.

Working Proactively with the Child Support Agency May Lead to a Resolution of Arrears

An experienced worker’s compensation attorney may be able to advise an injured worker in negotiating a stipulation to change an arrears payment with the payee parent (i.e. the parent who is owed the child support) as overseen by the county child support agency. By proactively engaging with the payee parent and county child support agency, agreements can oftentimes be reached to resolve a child support arrearage while still leaving some compensation for the injured worker while he or she is out of work. If a stipulation to change an arrears payment is reached, it is then sent to the county circuit court for review and approval before taking effect.

Contact Hawks Quindel with Your Worker’s Compensation Questions

Child support can significantly affect a Wisconsin worker’s compensation case. Therefore, it is best to be proactive and work directly with the payee and child support agency if you are past due on family or support payments. If you have questions about the interplay between child support obligations and your worker’s compensation rights, contact Hawks Quindel’s experienced worker’s compensation attorneys for a free evaluation of your claim.

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Brandon Jubelirer