TN 11 (01-10)

PR 07905.015 Idaho

A. PR 10-043 Eligibility for Child’s Benefits for a Student Enrolled in an Idaho Non-Public Secondary School – REPLY

DATE: December 22, 2009

1. SYLLABUS

The Ambrose School, located near Boise, Idaho, provides secondary education consistent with the laws of Idaho. It is, therefore, an educational institution for SSA purposes.

2. OPINION

Question Presented

You asked whether J., an 18-year old student enrolled in a non-public secondary school program located in Idaho, can qualify for child’s benefits as a student under Title II of the Social Security Act (Act). In addition, you requested a determination as to what evidence is required to establish eligibility for child’s benefits for enrollees in such a program in Idaho.

Answer

J. may qualify for child’s benefits under Title II of the Act, because he is an 18-year-old in full-time attendance at an Idaho secondary school that qualifies as an educational institution. We recommend that to make a determination to establish eligibility for child’s benefits under the Act for an 18-year-old student in a non-public secondary school in Idaho, the following evidence should be obtained, in addition to Form SSA-1372: (1) evidence setting forth the school’s minimum number of instructional hours and durational requirements for the school year, such as a school year calendar and daily schedule; and (2) evidence outlining the school’s curriculum and graduation requirements.

Factual Background

The number holder (NH) filed for retirement benefits with an entitlement beginning January 2010. The NH’s child, J. turned age 18 in September 2009, and filed for child’s benefits with an entitlement also beginning January 2010. J. attends The Ambrose School, an evangelical protestant Christian school, located near Boise, Idaho. The Ambrose School is not accredited by the state.

J. provided a Form SSA-1372 to Social Security in September 2009, which indicated that in the current school year (2009-10), he would attend The Ambrose School full-time. J.’s Form SSA-1372 was signed by the school’s headmaster. J. also provided a copy of a certificate of accreditation awarded The Ambrose School by the Association of Classical Christian Schools (ACCS).

Discussion

A. Eligibility for Child’s Insurance Benefits by a Student 18 Years of Age
The Act provides for benefits for dependent children of individuals who are entitled to Social Security old-age or disability insurance benefits, or who die with sufficient Social Security insurance coverage. 42 U.S.C. § 402(d). Although eligibility for child’s benefits usually terminates when a child attains age 18, eligibility may continue until age 19 if the child is unmarried and a full-time student. 42 U.S.C. § 402(d)(1), (7); 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.352(a)(3), 404.367. A child is considered a student if attending an elementary or secondary school as determined under the laws of the state or other jurisdiction in which it is located. 42 U.S.C. § 402(d)(7)(C)(i); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a).

1. Educational institution requirement

Each school the student attends during the period for which he is claiming child’s benefits must be an “educational institution.” POMS RS 00205.250. Public elementary schools, junior high schools, and high schools are educational institutions, unless there is evidence to the contrary. Program Operations Manual System (POMS) RS 00205.250(B)(1). In Idaho, standards for non-public schools are addressed in the state’s compulsory school attendance statute, which applies to children between the ages of 7 and 16. Idaho Code Ann. § 33-202; Idaho Const. Art. IX, § 9.

First, the child may be enrolled in a public school, charter school (including an on-line or virtual charter school), or private or parochial school during a period in each year equal to that in which the public schools are in session. Idaho Code Ann. § 33-202. Children in Idaho public schools in grade 12 receive a minimum of 990 instructional hours per school year. Idaho Code Ann. § 33-512(1)(a), (f). The Ambrose School requires approximately 992 instructional hours per school year. Both schools operate similar school year calendars. Thus, The Ambrose School is in session during a period equal to that in which the public schools are in session.

Second, the parent or guardian must cause the child to be “instructed in subjects commonly and usually taught in the public schools of the state of Idaho.” Idaho Code Ann. § 33-202. In public high schools, students must graduate with at least 42 credits, including a minimum of 25 credits in the core subjects of: (1) secondary language arts and communication, (2) mathematics, (3) science, (4) social studies, (5) humanities, and (6) health/wellness. Idaho Admin. Code § 105. In addition, students must complete at least two of the following: humanities, languages other than English, fine and performing arts, physical education (fitness), family and consumer science, and professional technical education (including work-based learning). Idaho Admin. Code § 104(03).

Graduates from The Ambrose School must earn approximately 38 credits, with 30 in the core subjects of: (1) language, literature, and art; (2) mathematics; (3) science; (4) government and history; and (5) rhetoric, theology, and philosophy. These core subjects are largely similar to the core subjects taught in the public schools.

The Ambrose School offers a number of electives that parallel those taught in the public schools, such as journalism, languages (French, Latin, and Greek), drama, music, and house athletics. Due to the similar curricula, The Ambrose School provides an education in subjects commonly and usually taught in the Idaho public schools. The Ambrose School provides secondary education consistent with the laws of the state of Idaho because the school: (1) is in session for a period in each year equal to that in which the public schools are in session; and (2) provides instruction in subjects commonly and usually taught in the Idaho public schools. The Ambrose School thus qualifies as an educational institution.

2. Full-time attendance requirement

A student must attend elementary or secondary school full-time to qualify for child’s benefits. 42 U.S.C. § 402(d)(1)(B); 20 C.F.R. § 404.352(b)(3). A full-time elementary or secondary school student is defined as an individual “in full-time attendance as a student at an elementary or secondary school, as determined by the Commissioner of Social Security (in accordance with regulations prescribed by the Commissioner) in the light of the standards and practices of the schools involved.” 42 U.S.C. § 402(d)(7)(A). The full-time student’s scheduled attendance must be in a course of at least 13 weeks duration at the rate of least 20 hours per week (unless one of two narrow exceptions applies). 20 C.F.R. § 404.367; POMS RS 00205.300(B).

The Ambrose School is in session more than 13 weeks per year. Classes begin two weeks before Labor Day, and the school year ends the Friday before Memorial Day, with holidays similar to area public schools. Full-time high school students at The Ambrose School attend approximately 30 hours per week excluding lunch breaks; school is in session five days per week from 7:45 a.m. until 2:45 p.m., with lunch breaks. J. attends The Ambrose School full-time; therefore, he meets the requirement of attending a secondary school full-time. 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(c).

B. Determination as to Evidence Required to Establish Eligibility for Child’s Benefits for Enrollees in Non-Accredited Idaho Schools

To qualify for child’s benefits for Social Security, a student may attend full-time a non-public school that qualifies as an educational institution. In Idaho, the school must instruct students in subjects commonly and usually taught in the public schools. Idaho students in grades 9-12 ordinarily must attend at least 990 hours per school year. Idaho Code Ann. § 33-512(1)(a).

We recommend that to make a determination to establish eligibility for child’s benefits under the Act for an 18-year-old student in a non-public secondary school, the following evidence should be obtained, in addition to Form SSA-1372: (1) evidence setting forth the school’s minimum number of instructional hours and durational requirements for the school year, such as a school year calendar and daily schedule; and (2) evidence outlining the school’s curriculum and graduation requirements.

Conclusion

The Ambrose School provides secondary education consistent with the laws of the state of Idaho and qualifies as an educational institution. We recommend that you find J.’s attendance at The Ambrose School for the 2009-10 school year satisfies the requirements for eligibility for student benefits.

We further recommend that J.’s file be amended to reflect that he attends school full-time, rather than 40 hours per week as stated on his Form SSA-1372. We further recommend that to make a determination for eligibility for child’s benefits for a student in a non-public secondary school, you obtain the evidence listed above.


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http://policy.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/1507905015
PR 07905.015 - Idaho - 01/06/2010
Batch run: 09/14/2017
Rev:01/06/2010