IN COURT OF APPEALS
Richard W. Heiden,
Reversed and remanded
Janet L. Goehle, 203 East Little Canada Rd., Suite 270, St. Paul, MN 55117 (for respondent)
Owen L. Sorenson, Stringer & Rohleder, Ltd., 1200 Norwest Center Tower, 55 East Fifth Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Crippen, Presiding Judge, Harten, Judge, and Schultz, Judge.
Appellant contests the administrative law judge's denial of his motion to modify or eliminate his existing child support obligation. We reverse and remand.
In 1992, appellant Richard W. Heiden stipulated that, although he was unemployed, he would pay higher-than-guidelines child support of $300 per month to respondent Vickie Sue Koehn for the care of their minor child. This stipulation was incorporated into a November 1992 district court order.
Appellant began receiving social security disability payments (now totaling $1,004 per month) in 1993. In addition, the parties' child, as appellant's dependent, receives dependency payments of $502 per month.
In 1997, appellant moved to reduce or eliminate his child support obligation, arguing that the child's receipt of dependency benefits obviated additional child support. An administrative law judge (ALJ) denied the motion because appellant's income had increased since the 1992 order and there had not been a substantial change in circumstances rendering that order unreasonable and unfair. This appeal followed.
We review an ALJ's determination as we would a district court's judgment. Lee v. Lee, 459 N.W.2d 365, 368-69 (Minn. App. 1990), review denied (Minn. Oct. 18, 1990). A district court's decision regarding modification of child support will be reversed only if the court abused its discretion. Kuronen v. Kuronen, 499 N.W.2d 51, 53 (Minn. App. 1993), review denied (Minn. June 22, 1993).
The terms of an order respecting maintenance or support may be modified upon a showing of one or more of the following: (1) substantially increased or decreased earnings of a party; (2) substantially increased or decreased need of a party or the child or children that are the subject of these proceedings * * *.
Minn. Stat. § 518.64, subd. 2(a) (Supp. 1997). The party seeking to modify child support must show "a substantial change of circumstances making the existing terms of the decree unreasonable and unfair." Kuronen, 499 N.W.2d at 53.
Appellant claims that his income decreased substantially after the 1992 order. But this claim is inconsistent with appellant's 1992 stipulation that he was unemployed (and presumably had no income) at the time of that order. Appellant's ability to pay child support has, if anything, increased since 1992 because he now receives monthly disability benefits. The ALJ correctly concluded that appellant has not shown any change in his income that renders the 1992 order unreasonable or unfair.
Appellant also argues that the child's receipt of benefits, the amount of which exceeds appellant's child support obligation under the 1992 order, obviates additional child support payments. In a recent case, we held:
A disabled child support obligor is entitled to a credit for social security disability benefits paid on behalf of a child for whom the obligor has a duty of support.
Holmberg v. Holmberg, 578 N.W.2d 817, 818 (Minn. App. 1998).
In light of Holmberg, we are compelled to reverse and remand this case to the ALJ. The ALJ must reduce appellant's prospective child support obligation by the amount of dependency benefits paid on behalf of the child. Because it is clear from the record that the child still has unmet financial need, the ALJ should then determine whether continuing child support in any amount would be appropriate given appellant's present financial situation. See Minn. Stat. § 518.551, subd. 5(c)(2) (1996) (when deciding whether to modify child support, court must consider financial needs and resources of child or children to be supported).
Reversed and remanded.
* Retired judge of the district court, serving as judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.
 Appellant also argues that, when calculating appellant's income for child support purposes, the ALJ erred by considering whether appellant owned income-generating farmland in Iowa. But it is clear from the record that the ALJ's determination was based solely on appellant's disability income, not his farm income. There was no error.
 In Holmberg, we also held that the administrative child support process, Minn. Stat. § 518.5511 (1996), is unconstitutional. 578 N.W.2d at 818. That issue was not raised by either of the parties in this case, and we decline to address it further.