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Income Hierarchy: Reduced Earning Ability

Reduced Earning Ability
CSS uses actual income when a parent has reduced earning ability due to the parent’s limited education, physical or mental disability, incarceration, or other obstacle to employment and there is evidence the parent has income of less than minimum wage for 40 hours per week. Other obstacles to employment include situations such as a felony record, enrolled in a drug or veterans court program or habitually in county jail on minor offenses.
Reduced earning ability due to a parent’s limited education may mean lack of a high school education/GED, learning or other disability, illiterate, or history of low income. Reviews a parent’s job history to help determine if the parent truly has limited education or an obstacle to employment. If that is the case, consider using actual income.


  • Limited Job Opportunities: A parent who lives in an area with limited job opportunities, based on knowledge of the community or parent testimony, works 10 hours a week at $8 per hour. Use actual income of $347.66 per month in the child support computation form.
  • Caretaker of a Handicapped or Seriously Ill Child/Parent: A parent has a child with special needs in his/her home and presents credible evidence that caring for the child makes it impossible for the parent to work more than 15 hours per week. Use the hourly wage for the actual number of hours worked by the parent.
  • Disability:
    • A parent has credible documentation of a disability that prevents her from working at least 40 hours a week and is not receiving any disability benefits (SSD or SSI). Staff uses actual income, even if it is $0 per month, in the child support computation form.
      Note: State law does not require a Social Security Administration or other agency determination of disability in order to use actual income. Review reliable medical documentation for evidence of disability and when there is a dispute about the existence of a disability; take it to hearing for the court’s decision. Refers parents to the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services (DRS), as appropriate. DRS provides resources for disabled people seeking retraining, employment, and/or work accommodations.
    • CP receives $400 per month in VA disability, is 30% disabled, and there is credible evidence that the CP is unable to find a job (e.g. CP’s job history and job search). Use actual income of $400 per month in the child support computation form.
  • Minor Parent:
    • A 16 year-old parent is working after high school. Staff uses either the imputed gross income for the minor parent(s) based on minimum wage at 20 hours per week or actual income in the child support computation form per OAC 340:25-5-178(i)
    • The rationale behind this administrative rule is to encourage parents to finish high school thereby increasing education and employment opportunities to better support themselves and their families. Parents younger than 16 years are not presumed to be able to obtain a work permit. Therefore, if they do not have an after school job, their actual income of $0 is used.
      Note: Use $0 as actual income if the parent is regularly and continuously attending high school and does not have a part-time job.
    • A 17 year old parent is working part-time and is not enrolled in high school. Impute or use actual income in the child support computation form.

Legal Authority

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Income Hierarchy: Overview