TN 3 (05-06)
PR 07905.032 New Hampshire
A. PR 06-134 Status of Educational Institution - New Hampshire law, Claim of Steven M. S~, SSN: ~
DATE: May 15, 2006
The Jobs for New Hampshire's Graduates program does not provide education in accordance with New Hampshire law. Thus, it is not an educational institution for SSA purposes.
You have requested our opinion regarding whether a participant in the program at Jobs for New Hampshire's Graduates in Stratham, New Hampshire can be paid child's benefits under section 202(d)(6) of the Social Security Act, based on his status as a "full time elementary or secondary school student" as described in sections 202(d)(6)(A)(i) and 202(d)(7)(C)(i) of the Act.
The relevant facts as I understand them are: Jobs for New Hampshire's Graduates offers a year long program that requires its participants to attend classes twenty five to thirty-two hours a week. The classes provide GED instruction, occupational skills training and job and life skill training. Students attend GED instruction for a minimum of twelve hours a week as well as individual tutoring one to two hours a week. The program also offers a job skills curriculum that is taught for one to two hours a day and occupational skills training which varies in time by the student. The Jobs for New Hampshire's Graduates program is neither approved nor accredited by the Department of Education in New Hampshire.
The beneficiary states that he is scheduled to attend school twenty five hours a week.
Section 202(d)(7)(A) of the Act provides in pertinent part that a "full time elementary or secondary school student" is an individual who is in full time attendance as a student at an elementary or secondary school as determined by the Commissioner in light of the standards and practices of the schools involved.
Section 202(d)(7)(C)(i) of the Act states that an elementary or secondary school is a school that provides elementary or secondary education, respectively, as determined under the law of the State or other jurisdiction in which it is located.
The Commissioner's regulations at 20 C.F.R. § 404.367 (2005) basically restate the statutory provisions.
SSA's policy in this area in set out in Program Operations Manual System (POMS). POMS section RS 00205.200, "What is an Educational Institution (EI) - Policy" states in relevant part that an "EI" is a school that provides elementary or secondary education, as determined under the law of the State or other jurisdiction in which it is located. An institution must be a school to be an EI.
POMS RS 00205.250 C outlines a multi-step process to determine if the school provides elementary or secondary education as determined under State law. Steps two and three provide that where the school has not applied for nor received accreditation from the State and the State Department of Education cannot state that the school provides an approved elementary or secondary program, the case should be submitted to the Chief Counsel to determine if the school qualifies as an EI under the law of the State or other jurisdiction in which it is located.
Since the Jobs for New Hampshire's Graduates program is not accredited and there is no regional precedent on this issue, you have forwarded this request for our opinion as to whether this program can be considered an EI.
For the Jobs for New Hampshire's Graduates program to be considered an EI, the program must conform to the requirements of state law and meet the Federal Standards of Attendance. To meet the federal requirements, a student must be scheduled for attendance at a rate of at least twenty hours a week, be enrolled in a course that is not a correspondence course and be enrolled in a course of study for at least a thirteen week duration. POMS RS 00205.300C.
Here, the program will be of at least thirteen weeks in duration as Steven S~ is scheduled to attend the program from July 15, 2005 through June 15, 2006. The program also does not appear to involve correspondence courses. However, based on the information that has been provided by Jobs for New Hampshire's Graduates we are unable to confirm that Steven S~ has attended classes for at least twenty hours a week. The Youth Specialist, Megan M~, stated, in a letter dated April 27, 2006, that Steven S~ received GED instruction for a minimum of twelve hours a week. Ms. M~ also indicated that Steven S~ was enrolled in an Automotive Certificate class and spent six hours a week in lectures and hands on training. Ms. M~ further stated that students had on average an additional one to two hours per week of individual tutoring as well as job skills classes that were taught between one and two hours daily. Ms. M~, however, never stated that Steven S~ actually attended the individual tutoring or jobs skills classes, therefore based on the information in the record we can only confirm that he attended classes for eighteen hours a week.
Even, if Steven S~ had met the Federal Standards for Attendance, we still don't believe that Jobs for New Hampshire's Graduates program qualified as an EI. To be an EI, the program must provide an elementary or secondary education as required by the laws of the State where located. POMS RS 00205.200 In this case, for the program to qualify as an EI, the curriculum of the program must meet the standards set by the State of New Hampshire.
Chapter XV, Section 193-E:2 of the New Hampshire Statutes states that an equitable education shall provide all students with the opportunity to acquire:
I. Skills in reading, writing and speaking English to enable them to communicate effectively and think creatively and critically.
II. Skill in mathematics and familiarity with methods of science to enable them to analyze information, solve problems and make rational decisions.
III. Knowledge of the biological, physical and earth sciences to enable them to understand and appreciate the world around them.
IV. Knowledge of civics and government, economics, geography and history to enable them to participate in the democratic process and to make informed choices as responsible citizens.
V. Grounding in the arts, languages and literature to enable them to appreciate our cultural heritage and develop lifelong interests and involvement in these areas.
VI. Sound wellness and environmental practices to enable them to enhance their own well-being as well as that of others.
VII. Skills for lifelong learning, including interpersonal and technological skills to enable them to learn, work and participate effectively in society.
Ms. M~ has indicated that Mr. S~ has instruction in Math, Reading, Writing, Social Studies and Science. As this curriculum does not meet the requirements of New Hampshire state law, we don't believe that the Jobs for New Hampshire's Graduates Program can be considered an EI.