TN 63 (03-18)

PR 07905.047 Tennessee

A. PR 18-048 Eligibility for Childhood Insurance Benefits as a Full-Time Secondary School Student Based on Enrollment in New School System (NSS)

Date: February 2, 2018

1. Syllabus

The New School System, a nonpublic Church-Related School in Tennessee, is recognized as an Educational Institution.

2. Opinion

QUESTION

You have asked whether New School System (NSS), an entity located in Tennessee, is an educational institution under Tennessee law for determining if J~ (Claimant), a Tennessee resident, is eligible a claimant’s eligibility for child’s insurance benefits (CIB) as a full-time student on the earnings record of J2~, the number holder. You also have asked whether Claimant is in full-time attendance (FTA).

OPINION

NSS is a home-based school program, and Tennessee state law recognizes it as an educational institution. We cannot conclude Claimant is in FTA based on the information provided.

BACKGROUND

According to the information provided, Claimant resides in M~, Tennessee, and was receiving CIB as a child under age eighteen on the number holder’s earnings record. Claimant turned eighteen years old on *. He has applied for a continuation of CIB as a full-time student.

On October XX, 2017, Claimant completed a Student’s Statement Regarding School Attendance form (Form SSA-1372). Claimant indicated that he was in full-time attendance and that NSS is a private high school. Claimant reported that the school year began on September 1, 2017, and would end on May 31, 2018. Claimant reported that he was scheduled to attend classes thirty hours per week and was expected to graduate in May 2019. The information provided does not include a completed Certification by School Official page of Form SSA-1372. Instead, the agency obtained a letter from B~, the headmistress of NSS, who stated that Claimant is enrolled with NSS and using a curriculum approved by and under the supervision of NSS. B~ stated NSS is a private, religious school operating under Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-50-801 and an associate member of the Tennessee Alliance of Church Related Schools (TACRS). B~ indicated that NSS was not a home school under Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-6-3050 and the students are not required to report education results or be tested by a local school system.

According to B~ and NSS’s website, NSS’s national office is located in R~, Tennessee. See NSS, Contact Form, http://www.newsystemschool.org/contact-us.php (last visited Jan. 24, 2018). NSS describes itself as “non-profit, private religious school created for the children of Jehovah’s Witnesses” and is an “organization of parents” who “have made legal arrangements to be recognized as a private religious school. This is not a home school satellite situation, but a private religious school with a faculty and non-institutional campus arrangement.” NSS, Homepage, http://www.newsystemschool.org/index.html (last visited Jan. 24, 2018). Students’ “parents are registered as faculty members of New System School, and are responsible for providing a quality secular and spiritual education for their young ones.” NSS, School Information, About New System School, Inc., http://www.newsystemschool.org/ aboutnss.html (last visited Jan. 24, 2018). The curriculum includes language arts, math, science, and social studies. NSS, School Information, Curriculum, http://www.newsystemschool.org/ curriculum.html (last visited Jan. 24, 2018). NSS requires each student be either tested, or keep a portfolio of each subject for each school year. NSS, School Information, FAQ, http://www.newsystemschool.org/faq.html (last visited Jan. 24, 2018).

DISCUSSION

To be eligible for CIB on the earnings record of an individual who is entitled to old-age or disability benefits, or of an individual who dies a fully or currently insured individual, an individual who is eighteen years of age or older and not disabled must be a “full-time elementary or secondary school student.” Social Security Act (Act) § 202(d)(1)(B)(i), (d)(7)(A); see 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.350(a)(5), 404.367 (2017);1 Program Operations Manual System (POMS) RS 00205.001A. An individual may qualify as a “full-time elementary or secondary school student” if he or she attends an educational institution, i.e., a school that provides elementary or secondary education (twelfth grade or below) as determined under the law of the state in which the school is located. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A), (d)(7)(C); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a), (e); POMS RS 00205.001A; POMS RS 00205.200A. An individual also may qualify as an elementary or secondary school student if he or she receives instruction in elementary or secondary education at home under the home school law of the state where he or she resides. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a)(1); POMS RS 00205.275A.

An individual also must attend school full time to qualify as a “full-time elementary or secondary school student.” See Act § 202(d)(7)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b), (c); POMS RS 00205.001A; POMS RS 00205.300A. A beneficiary is in full-time attendance if he is attending an educational institution and meets both state and Federal standards for full-time attendance. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a), (c); POMS RS 00205.300A. A beneficiary meets the state standards if a qualifying educational institution considers the beneficiary to be a full-time student based on the institution’s standards and practices. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b); POMS RS 00205.300B; POMS RS 00205.350C.1. A beneficiary meets the Federal standards if he is scheduled to attend school at the rate of at least twenty hours per week, enrolled in a noncorrespondence course, and enrolled in a course of study that is of at least thirteen weeks duration. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b), (c); POMS RS 00205.300C.

Because NSS is located in R~, Tennessee, we look to Tennessee law to determine whether NSS is a school that provides secondary education. Under Tennessee law, every child between the age of six and seventeen must attend a public or nonpublic school. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-6-3001(c)(1) (West 2017).2 A “nonpublic” school means a Church-Related School (CRS), home school, or private school. See Tenn. Code. Ann. § 49-6-3001(c)(3)(A). A CRS is a school as defined in Tenn. Code. Ann. § 49-50-801. See Tenn. Code. Ann. §§ 49-6-3001(c)(3)(A)(i). A CRS is a school operated by a denominational, parochial, or other bona fide church organization that meet the standards of accreditation, by or membership with, certain organizations, including the TACRS. See Tenn. Code. Ann. § 49-50-801(a).

Tennessee law recognizes schooling through NSS as a nonpublic CRS. The Tennessee Department of Education’s school directory website of non-public schools lists NSS as a private school. See Tenn. Dep’t of Ed., Private Schools, https://k-12.education.tn.gov/sde/DetailSchool.asp?bu_id=6551 (last visited Jan. 30, 2018).

NSS is described as a Category 4 school recognized by the TACRS. See Tenn. Dep’t of Ed., Non-Public Schools, Listing of Non-Public Schools, https://www.tn.gov/content/dam/tn/education/nonpublic/non_pub/non_pub_schools_2017-18.xls (last visited Jan. 30, 2018). A category 4 school is a CRS as recognized by the associations noted in Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-50-801, including the TACRS. See Tenn. Dep’t of Ed., Non-Public Schools, Categories, https://www.tn.gov/education/school-options/non-public-schools/non-public-school-categories.html (last visited Jan. 30, 2018); Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-50-801; Tenn. Comp. R. & Regs. 0520-07-02-.05(1) (West 2017). CRSs under Tennessee law are exempt from the State’s faculty, textbook, and curriculum regulations. See Tenn. Code. Ann. § 49-50-801(b);Tenn. Comp. R. & Regs. 0520-07-02-.05(1). Therefore, because Tennessee recognizes NSS as a non-public school, NSS is an EI.

The evidence presented fails to show that Claimant’s attendance at or through NSS satisfies the requirements for FTA. A student must meet the Federal standards for FTA and meet the requirements of the state in which the school is located. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b)-(c); POMS RS 00205.275B. Claimant reported that he was scheduled to attend school for thirty hours per week and that his school year lasted from September 1 through May 31, or nine months. The procedure for verifying FTA requires that a school official complete page 3 of the SSA-1372 or that instead, the school provides a statement on its own letterhead that provides the same information as the SSA-1372. POMS RS 00205.350B. “Failure to submit a completed SSA-1372-BK, or its equivalent, is considered failure to establish FTA at an EI.” POMS RS 00205.735B. The information provided does not include the page 3 “Certification by School Official” for form SSA-1372. While the agency obtained a letter from the NSS’s headmistress, the letter does not provide the same information found on page 3 of form SSA-1372. In particular, it does not confirm that Claimant attends NSS for at least 20 hours per week or that the course of study is at least 13 weeks in duration. Moreover, nothing indicates that Claimant takes correspondence courses. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b), (c); POMS RS 00205.300C. Absent the information required by SSA-1372, the Claimant cannot be deemed to meet the Federal standards for FTA. POMS RS 00205.735B. Even though NSS, as a CRS, is exempt from the State’s attendance reporting requirements, see Tenn. Code. Ann. § 49-6-3050(a)(3), we cannot conclude Claimant is in FTA based on the information provided.

CONCLUSION

NSS is an educational institution under Tennessee law. Claimant is not in FTA based on the information provided.

B. PR 18-017 Is Tennessee Virtual Learning Academy an Educational Institution for Determining if Claimant, a Tennessee Resident, is Eligible for Child’s Insurance Benefits

Date: November 14, 2017

1. Syllabus

Tennessee Virtual Learning Academy (TVLA) is a public high school and considered an educational institution.

2. Opinion

QUESTION

You asked whether the Tennessee Virtual Learning Academy (TVLA) is an educational institution for determining if C~ (Claimant), a Tennessee resident, is eligible for child’s insurance benefits (CIB) as a full-time secondary school student on the earnings record of C2~, the number holder. You also asked whether Claimant is in full-time attendance (FTA).

OPINION

TVLA is an educational institution under Tennessee law and Claimant is in FTA through his enrollment in TVLA. Therefore, Claimant is a full-time secondary school student for determining his CIB eligibility.

BACKGROUND

According to the information provided, Claimant resides in Tennessee and was receiving CIB as a child under age eighteen on the number holder’s earnings record. Claimant has applied for a continuation of CIB as a full-time student. Claimant turned eighteen years old in September 2017.

Claimant completed a Student’s Statement Regarding School Attendance form (Form SSA-1372) on July XX, 2017. Claimant indicated that he was in full-time attendance at TVLA and that TVLA is a high school program. Claimant reported that the school year began on August 7, 2017, and would end on May 24, 2018. Claimant also reported he was scheduled to attend 30 hours per week and expected to graduate in May 2018. The principal of TVLA completed the Certification by School Official page of Form SSA-1372 on July 28, 2017, and indicated that the information Claimant provided was correct, that TVLA’s course of study lasted at least 13 weeks, and that TVLA operates on a yearly basis. The principal also provided a letter dated August 28, 2017, stating that Claimant was enrolled in the Washington County Tennessee Virtual Academy and would be working online to earn his diploma.3

DISCUSSION

To be eligible for CIB on the earnings record of an individual who is entitled to old-age or disability insurance benefits, or of an individual who dies a fully or currently insured individual, a claimant who is eighteen years of age or older and not disabled must be a “full-time elementary or secondary school student.” Social Security Act (Act) § 202(d)(1)(B)(i), (d)(7)(A); see 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.350(a)(5), 404.367 (2017)4 ; Program Operations Manual System (POMS) RS 00205.001A. A claimant may qualify as a “full-time elementary or secondary school student” if he or she attends an educational institution, i.e., a school that provides elementary or secondary education (twelfth grade or below) as determined under the law of the state in which the school is located. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A), (d)(7)(C); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a), (e); POMS RS 00205.001A; POMS RS 00205.200A.

A claimant also must attend school full time to qualify as a “full-time elementary or secondary school student.” See Act § 202(d)(7)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b), (c); POMS RS 00205.001A; POMS RS 00205.300A. A claimant attends full time if he or she is attending an educational institution and meets both state and Federal standards for full-time attendance. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a), (c); POMS RS 00205.295B; POMS RS 00205.300A. Similarly, a claimant attending an online school may be a full-time student if the online school operates in a manner consistent with the law of the state in which the online school is located (i.e., an educational institution), and the claimant meets both state and Federal standards for full-time attendance. See POMS RS 00205.295B; POMS RS 00205.300A. A claimant meets the state standards for full-time attendance if a qualifying educational institution considers the individual to be a full-time student based on the institution’s standards and practices. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b); POMS RS 00205.300B; POMS RS 00205.350C.1. A claimant meets the Federal standards if he or she is scheduled to attend school at the rate of at least twenty hours per week, enrolled in a noncorrespondence course, and enrolled in a course of study lasting at least thirteen weeks. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b), (c); POMS RS 00205.300C.

Educational Institution under Tennessee Law

Because TVLA is located in Tennessee, we look to Tennessee law to determine whether TVLA provides elementary or secondary education. See Act § 202(d)(7)(C)(i); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a); POMS RS 00205.200.A. Under Tennessee law, every child between the age of six and seventeen must attend public or non-public school. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-6-3001(c)(1) (West 2017).5 Tennessee allows for local education authorities to establish virtual schools, which are considered public schools. See Tenn. Code. Ann. §§ 49-16-203(2), 49-16-204. Any student eligible for enrollment in a public school in Tennessee may enroll in a virtual school either full-time or part-time. Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-16-211(a). The Tennessee State Department of Education lists TVLA as a public school on its directory of active public schools. See Tennessee – SDE Directory – Detail School, https://k-12.education.tn.gov/sde/DetailSchool.asp?bu_id=7777 (last visited Nov. 9, 2017). Because TVLA is a public school under Tennessee law, TVLA is an educational institution for determining Claimant’s eligibility for CIB as a full-time student.

Full-Time Attendance

You also asked whether Claimant is in FTA. The evidence shows that Claimant’s attendance at or through TVLA satisfies the requirements for FTA. Claimant meets the state standards because TVLA’s principal confirmed Claimant’s statement that he was in full-time attendance in TVLA. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b); POMS RS 00205.300B; POMS RS 00205.350C.1. Claimant also meets the Federal standards because he stated, and TVLA’s principal confirmed, that he is scheduled to attend TVLA 30 hours per week; TVLA’s principal indicated that TVLA’s course of study is at least 13 weeks in duration; and nothing indicates that Claimant takes correspondence courses. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b), (c); POMS RS 00205.300C. Therefore, Claimant is in FTA.

CONCLUSION

Because TVLA is a public high school, it meets the requirements of being an educational institution under Tennessee law. Claimant is also in FTA through his enrollment in TVLA. Therefore, Claimant is a full-time secondary school student for determining his eligibility for CIB.

C. PR 17-040 Eligibility for Child’s Insurance Benefits as a Full-Time Elementary or Secondary School Student Based on Enrollment in HomeLife Academy

Date: February 7, 2017

1. Syllabus

HomeLife Academy is a home school church related program that Tennessee state law recognizes as an educational institution.

2. Opinion

QUESTION

You have asked whether HomeLife Academy (HLA), an entity located in Tennessee, is an educational institution under Tennessee law for determining a claimant’s eligibility for child’s insurance benefits (CIB) as a full-time student. You also have asked whether the claimant is in full-time attendance (FTA) for determining if he qualifies for CIB as a full-time secondary school student.

OPINION

HLA is a home school program, and Tennessee state law recognizes it as an educational institution. HLA meets Tennessee’s home school law requirements. The claimant is in FTA.

BACKGROUND

According to the information provided, J~ (Claimant), resides in Jackson, Tennessee, and was receiving CIB as a child under age eighteen on the earnings record of J2~, the number holder. Claimant turned eighteen years old on October XX, 2016. He has applied for a continuation of CIB as a full-time student.

On November 28, 2016, Claimant completed a Student’s Statement Regarding School Attendance form (Form SSA-1372). Claimant indicated that he was in full-time attendance and that HLA is a home school program. Claimant reported that the school year began on October 3, 2016, and would end on August 1, 2017. Claimant reported that he was scheduled to attend classes 25 hours per week and was expected to graduate in January 2018. A records administrator at HLA, R~, completed the Certification by School Official page of Form SSA-1372 on December 2, 2016, on which he indicated that the information Claimant provided was correct. R~ stated the course of study at HLA lasts at least 13 weeks.

HLA is also located in Jackson, Tennessee. See HLA, HLA State Pages, Homeschooling in Tennessee, http://www.homelifeacademy.com/hla-states-pages/homeschooling-in-tennessee/ (last visited Jan. 24, 2017). HLA describes itself as an “umbrella or cover school” and states its “goal is to give homeschooling families” support, recordkeeping, and counseling services. HLA, Why HLA?, About Us, http://www.homelifeacademy.com/why-hla/about-us/ (last visited Jan. 24, 2017). HLA’s stated mission includes helping parents to teach their children using flexible methods. See HLA, Why HLA?, Our Mission, http://www.homelifeacademy.com/why-hla/our-mission/ (last visited Jan. 24, 2017). Although HLA grants a diploma on completion of graduation requirements, parents/teachers are responsible for developing a course of study for their children/students. See HLA, Academics, High School, http://www.homelifeacademy.com/ academics/high-school/ (last visited Jan. 24, 2017). Parents/teachers are responsible for obtaining curriculum materials and teaching them, although HLA offers several suggested sources, including their own online courses. See HLA, Curriculum, Curriculum Options, http://www.homelifeacademy.com/curriculum/curriculum-options/ (last visited Jan. 24, 2017).

HLA requires parents/teachers to provide their enrolled child’s/student’s immunization records. See HLA, Immunization Records, http://www.homelifeacademy.com/immunization-records/ (last visited Jan. 24, 2017). HLA also reports the “name, age, and address of each student to the director of schools of the school system where the student resides.” HLA, “Understanding Church-Related Schools [(CRS)] in Tennessee,” http://www.homelifeacademy.com/understanding-church-related-schools-in-tennessee/ (last visited Jan. 24, 2017). Students attending HLA must spend a minimum of 4 hours per day doing “school work” and must attend class at least 180 days per year. HLA, HLA Recordkeeping, Attendance, http://www.homelifeacademy.com/hla-recordkeeping/attendance/ (last visited Jan. 24, 2017). HLA requires grade and attendance reporting twice per year. See HLA, HLA Recordkeeping, Grade Reporting, http://www.homelifeacademy.com/hla-recordkeeping/grade-reporting/ (last visited Jan. 24, 2017). HLA’s website states that it maintains membership with the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI). See HLA, Accreditation, http://www.homelifeacademy.com/accreditation/ (last visited Jan. 31, 2017).

The Tennessee Department of Education’s website lists HLA as a nonpublic, Category IV school associated with the ACSI. See Tenn. Dep’t of Ed., Non-Public Schools, https://www.tn.gov/ education/topic/non-public-schools (last visited Jan. 31, 2017). The Tennessee Department of Education defines Category IV schools as CRSs recognized by associations mentioned in the Tennessee Code, including the ACSI. See Tenn. Dep’t of Ed., Non-Public Schools, https://www.tn.gov/education/ article/non-public-school-categories (last visited Jan. 31, 2017); Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-50-801(a) (West 2016); Tenn. Comp. R. & Regs. 0520-07-02-.01(1)(d) (West 2016).

DISCUSSION

To be eligible for CIB on the earnings record of an individual who is entitled to old-age or disability benefits, or of an individual who dies a fully or currently insured individual, an individual who is 18 years of age or older and not disabled must be a “full-time elementary or secondary school student.” Social Security Act (Act) § 202(d)(1)(B)(i), (d)(7)(A); see 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.350(a)(5), 404.367 (2016);6 Program Operations Manual System (POMS) RS 00205.001A. An individual may qualify as a “full-time elementary or secondary school student” if he or she attends an educational institution, i.e., a school that provides elementary or secondary education (twelfth grade or below) as determined under the law of the state in which the school is located. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A), (d)(7)(C); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a), (e); POMS RS 00205.001A; POMS RS 00205.200A. An individual also may qualify as an elementary or secondary school student if he or she receives instruction in elementary or secondary education at home under the home school law of the state where he or she resides. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a)(1); POMS RS 00205.275A.

Because HLA is located in Jackson, Tennessee, we look to Tennessee law to determine whether HLA is a school that provides elementary or secondary education. Under Tennessee law, a “nonpublic” school means a CRS, home school, or private school. See Tenn. Code. Ann. § 49-6-3001(c)(3)(A) (West 2016). A CRS is a school operated by denominational, parochial, or other bona fide church organizations that are required to meet the standards of accreditation or membership of certain associations, including the ACSI. See Tenn. Code. Ann. §§ 49-6-3001(c)(3)(A)(i), 49-50-801(a). A “home school” is a school conducted or directed by a parent or parents or a legal guardian or guardians for their own children. See Tenn. Code. Ann. §§ 49-6-3001(c)(3)(A)(ii), 49-6-3050(a) (West 2016). Tennessee recognizes two hybrids of home schools and CRSs. In the first type, a parent teaching through a home school may associate with, and students may enroll with, a CRS, whereby the CRS’s director supervises the home school and the CRS administers or offers standardized achievement tests. See Tenn. Code. Ann. § 49-6-3050(a)(2)(A). In the second type, a parent-teacher may enroll the parent’s home school student or students in a CRS and participate as a teacher in that CRS. See Tenn. Code. Ann. § 49-6-3050(a)(3).

The available information indicates that Claimant is enrolled with HLA as a means of home schooling. Claimant reported that HLA is a home school program, and HLA identifies itself as a homeschooling program that provides recordkeeping and counseling services for parents/teachers. Although HLA offers some of its own online courses, parents/teachers are responsible for designing a curriculum, obtaining appropriate course materials, and teaching the materials to their children/students. To qualify for CIB based on full-time attendance in a home school, Tennessee law must recognize home school as an educational institution. See POMS RS 00205.275B. The Tennessee Department of Education lists HLA as a nonpublic, Category IV CRS associated with the ACSI. See Tenn. Dep’t of Ed., Non-Public Schools, https://www.tn.gov/education/ topic/non-public-schools (last visited Jan. 31, 2017); see also Tenn. Dep’t of Ed., Non-Public Schools, https://www.tn.gov/education/article/non-public-school-categories (last visited Jan. 31, 2017) (defining Category IV schools as CRSs recognized by associations mentioned in Tenn. Code. Ann. § 49-50-801, including the ACSI). Tennessee law allows hybrids of CRSs and home schools, like HLA. See Tenn. Code. Ann. § 49-5-3050(a)(2)-(3). Accordingly, Tennessee law recognizes homeschooling through HLA as an educational institution.

To qualify for CIB based on FTA in a home school, Claimant’s education must also be in accordance with Tennessee’s home school law. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a)(1); POMS RS 00205.275B. As noted above, Tennessee recognizes two hybrids of home schools and CRSs: home schools affiliated with CRSs, and CRSs operating at home. See Tenn. Code. Ann. § 49-6-3050(a)(1)-(3); POMS PR 07905.047C, PR 09-068, “Status of Riverside Christian Academy in Fayetteville, Tennessee, as an Education Institution” (Mar. 6, 2009). Because HLA is a recognized CRS, and because instruction occurs at home, HLA appears to be a CRS operating at home.7 Tennessee allows for broad discretion in operating such schools. They are exempt from having to file notices of intent with local school directors, maintaining attendance records, requiring minimum parent/teacher education levels, or meeting standardized testing requirements. See Tenn. Code. Ann. § 49-6-3050(a)(3), (b). CRSs under Tennessee law are also exempt from the state’s curriculum regulation. See Tenn. Code. Ann. § 49-50-801(b); Tenn. Comp. R. & Regs. 0520-07-02-.01(1)(d). Tennessee only requires such schools to ensure their students are vaccinated and report the names, ages, and addresses of their students to the superintendent of the public school system in which the student resides. See Tenn. Comp. R. & Regs. 0520-07-02-.05(2)(d)-(e) (West 2016).8 HLA requires parents/teachers of enrolled students to report the child’s/student’s immunizations, and HLA reports the names, ages, and addresses of students to the director of the school system in which the child/student resides. Accordingly, HLA operates in accordance with Tennessee’s home school laws.

You have also asked whether Claimant is in FTA. A home schooled individual must meet the Federal standards for FTA and meet the home school requirements of the state in which the home school is located. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b)-(c); POMS RS 00205.275B. In particular, a home schooled individual must be carrying a subject load which is considered full-time for day students under the standards and practices set by the state in which he or she resides. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b).

Claimant reported that he was scheduled to attend school for 25 hours per week. HLA records administrator R~ verified that the information Claimant provided was correct.9 R~ also certified that the course of study was at least 13 weeks in duration. Thus, Claimant meets the Federal FTA requirements that the student attend school at least 20 hours per week and be enrolled in a course of study that is of at least 13 weeks’ duration. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b)-(c); POMS RS 00205.275B; POMS RS 00205.300C.

Claimant also takes a subject load that is considered full-time for day students under the standards and practices set by Tennessee. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b). Tennessee typically requires CRS students to attend a school term of 180 days with a least 6.5 hours per day of instruction. See Tenn. Code. Ann. §§ 49-6-3004(a)(1), (e)(1), 49-50-801(d) (West 2016). Homeschooled students, however, are only required to attend a 180-day term of 4-hour days. See Tenn. Code. Ann. § 49-6-3050(b)(3). CRSs operating at home appear to be exempt even from this requirement, see Tenn. Code. Ann. § 49-6-3050(a)(3), (b), but HLA nonetheless requires 180 days of attendance, with a minimum 4 hours per day of instruction. This requirement meets the standards for full-time day students under practices set by Tennessee. Because Claimant’s home schooling satisfies Federal and Tennessee standards, Claimant is in FTA.10

CONCLUSION

HLA is an educational institution under Tennessee law. Claimant is instructed at home through HLA in accordance with Tennessee’s home school law and is in FTA.

Sincerely,

Mary Ann Sloan

Regional Chief Counsel

By Jeffrey S. Wilson

Assistant Regional Counsel

D. PR 17-018 Eligibility for Child’s Insurance Benefits as a Full-Time Elementary or Secondary School Student Based on Enrollment in Tennessee Online Public School

Date: November 15, 2016

1. Syllabus

Tennessee Online Public School is a virtual educational institution under Tennessee law.

2. Opinion

QUESTION

You asked whether Tennessee Online Public School (TOPS), an entity located in Tennessee, is an educational institution under Tennessee law for determining a claimant’s eligibility for child’s insurance benefits (CIB) as a full-time student. You also asked if the claimant is in full-time attendance based on his instruction through TOPS.

OPINION

TOPS is an educational institution under Tennessee law. The claimant also meets Tennessee and Federal standards for full-time attendance.

BACKGROUND

According to the information provided, H~ (Claimant) was receiving CIB as a child under age eighteen on the earnings record of D~, the number holder. Claimant turned eighteen years old on November XX, 2016. He has applied for a continuation of CIB as a full-time student.

On September XX, 2016, Claimant, who lives in B~, Tennessee, completed a Student’s Statement Regarding School Attendance form (Form SSA-1372). In item 1 of the form, he indicated he attends an educational program full time at or through TOPS, which he indicated is a state-operated online high school. Claimant reported the school year at TOPS began on August 1, 2016, and ends in May 2017. Claimant reported neither the number of hours per week that he attends TOPS nor the date when he expects to graduate from high school.

On October XX, 2016, J~, Ed.D., principal at TOPS, completed and signed the Certification by School Official page of Form SSA-1372 and indicated the information Claimant provided was correct. Dr. J~ also indicated TOPS’s course of study lasts at least thirteen weeks. On the Notice of Cessation of Full-time School Attendance page of Form SSA-1372, Dr. J~ indicated Claimant was expected to graduate from TOPS in May 2017.11 Dr. J~ also listed the physical address of TOPS as located in B~, Tennessee.

In a letter dated October 18, 2016, Dr. J~ stated that TOPS was founded in 2012 as a public virtual school, allowed for in Tennessee under the Virtual Schools Act that was passed in 2011. Dr. J~ indicated that TOPS is a public school with the same rights and requirements as any other public high school in the state of Tennessee. He stated that the workload at TOPS is “designed to account for the required 6.5 seat hours per day.” He also stated that completion of all work due in a given week results in perfect attendance, and failure to complete work results in pro-rated absences.

DISCUSSION

To be eligible for CIB on the earnings record of an individual who is entitled to old-age or disability benefits, an individual who is eighteen years of age or older and not disabled must be a “full-time elementary or secondary school student.” Social Security Act (Act) § 202(d)(1)(B)(i), (d)(7)(A); see 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.350(a)(5), 404.367 (2016);12 Program Operations Manual System (POMS) RS 00205.001.A. An individual may qualify as a “full-time elementary or secondary school student” if he or she attends an educational institution, i.e., a school that provides elementary or secondary education (twelfth grade or below) as determined under the law of the State in which the school is located. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A), (d)(7)(C); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a), (e); POMS RS 00205.001.A; POMS RS 00205.200.A.13

Educational Institution under Tennessee Law

Because TOPS is located in Bristol, Tennessee, we look to Tennessee law to determine whether TOPS is a school that provides elementary or secondary education. See Act § 202(d)(7)(C)(i); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a); POMS RS 00205.200.A. Tennessee contains in the education title of its statutes a chapter on virtual education. See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 49-16-101 to 49-16-216 (West 2016). This chapter requires, among other things, that virtual schools be established by a local school system, be public, meet State curriculum standards, meet State workload requirements, ensure student access to technology, ensure students meet participation requirements, and administer mandatory State tests. As shown below, TOPS satisfies these requirements.

1. TOPS Was Established by a Local Public School System

Pursuant to the Tennessee chapter on virtual education, a local education agency (LEA), which includes but is not limited to any local public school system or school district, may establish a virtual school, but is not required to do so. See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 49-1-103(2), 49-16-103(b), 49-16-105, 49-16-204 (West 2016). An LEA establishing a virtual school “may contract for services with nonprofit and for-profit entities in the operation and management of the virtual school.” Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-16-214.

Tennessee’s administrative rules and regulations require all public virtual schools to “comply with all applicable Tennessee State Board of Education policies and rules and regulations.” Tenn. Comp. R. & Regs. 0520-01-03-.03(12)(a) (2016). Public virtual schools must receive approval from the local board of education. See Tenn. Comp. R. & Regs. 0520-01-03-.03(12)(b)1. It appears the local public school system of Bristol Tennessee City Schools established or, at the very least, approved TOPS as a virtual school, because the Bristol Tennessee City Schools website lists TOPS as a local school. See Bristol Tennessee City Schools, Tennessee Online Public School, http://www.btcs.org/Default.asp?L=0&LMID=&PN=Schools2& DivisionID=&DepartmentID=&SubDepartmentID=&SubP=School&SchoolID=5123 (last visited Nov. 8, 2016).

2. TOPS Is a Public School

A Tennessee virtual school must be a public school, and any student who is eligible to enroll in a public school in Tennessee may enroll as either a full-time virtual school student or as a part-time virtual school student taking some of his or her courses through the virtual school. See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 49-16-204, 49-16-211(a). On the FAQ page of its website, TOPS indicates that it is a public school. See TOPS, Frequently Asked Questions, http://tops.education/faq (last visited Nov. 8, 2016). Additionally, the Tennessee Department of Education’s website lists TOPS as a virtual public school. See SDE Directory, Tennessee Online Public School, https://k-12.education.tn.gov/SDE/DetailSchool.asp?bu_id=7248 (last visited Nov. 8, 2016).

3. TOPS Meets State Curriculum Standards

Regarding curriculum, a Tennessee virtual school must provide “[a]ccess to a sequential curriculum that meets or exceeds the curriculum standards adopted by the state board of education.” Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-16-205(1), (3). On the FAQ page of its website, TOPS indicates that its curriculum is created by licensed Tennessee teachers who teach for TOPS and that it follows the Tennessee State Standards. See TOPS, Frequently Asked Questions, http://tops.education/faq (last visited Nov. 8, 2016).

Additionally, the Tennessee Department of Education’s website lists the graduation requirements necessary to receive a high school diploma in Tennessee, which include taking the ACT or SAT in eleventh grade and obtaining a total of twenty-two credits before graduating, with a specific number of credits in math, English, science, social studies, physical education and wellness, personal finance, foreign language, fine arts, and electives. See Tennessee Department of Education, Graduation Requirements, https://www.tn.gov/education/topic/graduation-requirements (last visited Nov. 8, 2016). The graduation requirements listed on TOPS website meet or exceed the State requirements. See TOPS, Graduation Requirements, http://tops.education/graduation-requirements-1/ (last visited Nov. 8, 2016).

4. TOPS Meets State Workload Requirements

Tennessee public virtual schools must meet the equivalent of 180 days of instruction and 6.5 hours per day per academic year. See Tenn. Comp. R. & Regs. 0520-01-03-.03(12)(b)4. On its website, TOPS acknowledges that it is required to meet the above-described workload requirements. See TOPS, Workload, http://tops.education/workload-1/ (last visited Nov. 8, 2016). Additionally, in his October 2016 letter, TOPS principal Dr. J~ stated that the workload at TOPS is designed to account for the required 6.5 seat hours per day.

5. TOPS Ensures Students Have Access to Technology

With regard to student participation and progress assessment, Tennessee public virtual schools must “ensure access to instructional materials, access to technology such as a computer and printer that may be necessary for participation in the program, and access to an Internet connection used for school work.” Tenn. Comp. R. & Regs. 0520-01-03-.03(12)(b)11. As part of its admissions requirements, TOPS requires all students to have a computer and internet connection. See TOPS, Required Hardware/Software, http://tops.education/suggested-software/ (last visited Nov. 8, 2016). TOPS’s website indicates it provides students with all necessary software. See id.

6. TOPS Meets State Participation Requirements

Tennessee public virtual schools must monitor student participation and ensure students meet participation requirements. See Tenn. Comp. R. & Regs. 0520-01-03-.03(12)(b)5. Additionally, Tennessee public virtual schools must comply with all statutory requirements concerning attendance reporting and monitoring described in Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-6-3007. See Tenn. Comp. R. & Regs. 0520-01-03-.03(12)(d). On its website, TOPS indicates that each class posts weekly attendance requirements, and attendance is monitored through an online program called PowerSchool run by the Bristol Tennessee City School system. See TOPS, Attendance Policy, http://tops.education/attendance-policy/ (last visited Nov. 8, 2016). Additionally, in his October 2016 letter, Dr. J~ stated that completion of all work due in a given week results in perfect attendance, and failure to complete work results in pro-rated absences.

7. TOPS Administers State Tests

Tennessee public virtual schools must also administer any state tests required for all public school students, in a proctored environment consistent with state test administration guidelines. See Tenn. Comp. R. & Regs. 0520-01-03-.03(12)(b)6. On its website, TOPS indicates the State of Tennessee requires testing for all students, and pursuant to that requirement, TOPS lists its schedule of testing for each of its four physical testing sites around the State. See TOPS, Testing, http://tops.education/testing/ (last visited Nov. 8, 2016).

By meeting the above-listed requirements, TOPS qualifies as a virtual public school under Tennessee law. Because TOPS qualifies as a public school in Tennessee, the State in which it is located, TOPS qualifies as an educational institution for determining Claimant’s eligibility for CIB. See POMS RS 00205.295.B; POMS RS 00205.300.A.

Full-time Attendance

To qualify as a “full-time elementary or secondary school student,” in addition to the requirement of attending an educational institution, an individual also must attend school full time. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b), (c); POMS RS 00205.001.A; POMS RS 00205.300.A. An individual attends full time if he or she is attending an educational institution and meets both State and Federal standards for full-time attendance. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a), (c); POMS RS 00205.295.B; POMS RS 00205.300.A. Similarly, an individual attending an online school may be considered a full time student if the online school is consistent with the law of the State in which the online school is located (i.e., an educational institution), and meets both State and Federal standards for full-time attendance. See POMS RS 00205.295.B; POMS RS 00205.300.A. As shown below, Claimant meets both State and Federal standards for full-time attendance.

1. Claimant Satisfies State Standards for Full-time Attendance

An individual meets the State standards for full-time attendance if a qualifying educational institution considers the individual to be a full-time student based on the institution’s standards and practices. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b); POMS RS 00205.300.B; POMS RS 00205.350.C.1. In item 1 of Form SSA-1372, Claimant indicated he was currently in full-time attendance at TOPS. In the Certification by School Official of Form SSA-1372, TOPS principal Dr. J~ verified that all the information in item 1 of Form SSA-1372 was correct. Because TOPS is a qualifying educational institution, as discussed, and because Dr. J~ on behalf of TOPS considers Claimant to be a full-time student, Claimant meets the State standards for full-time attendance. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b); POMS RS 00205.300.B; POMS RS 00205.350.C.1.

2. Claimant Satisfies Federal Standards for Full-time Attendance

An individual meets the Federal standards for full-time attendance if he or she is scheduled to attend school at the rate of at least twenty hours per week, enrolled in a noncorrespondence course, and enrolled in a course of study lasting at least thirteen weeks. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b), (c); POMS RS 00205.300.C. In his October 2016 letter, Dr. J~ indicated that Claimant attends school at the equivalent rate of 6.5 hours per day, which works out to 32.5 hours per week. Additionally, as shown, TOPS is a virtual public school, not a correspondence course. Finally, in the Certification by School Official of Form SSA-1372, Dr. J~ indicated that TOPS’s course of study was at least thirteen weeks in duration. Thus, Claimant’s attendance at TOPS meets the Federal standards for full-time attendance. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b), (c); POMS RS 00205.300.C.

Accordingly, Claimant’s study through TOPS qualifies as full-time attendance at an educational institution for determining Claimant’s eligibility for CIB. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a), (c); POMS RS 00205.295.B; POMS RS 00205.300.A.

CONCLUSION

TOPS is an educational institution under Tennessee law and Claimant is in full-time attendance at TOPS. Thus, he is a full-time secondary school student based on his instruction through TOPS for determining his eligibility for CIB.

Sincerely,

Mary Ann Sloan

Regional Chief Counsel

By: Owen Keegan

Assistant Regional Counsel

E. PR 13-061 Eligibility for Child’s Insurance Benefits as a Full-Time Elementary or Secondary School Student Based on Attendance at Dr. Paul Kelley Volunteer Academy – Tennessee

DATE: April 10, 2013

1. SYLLABUS

Dr. Paul Kelley Volunteer Academy (KVA) is a non-traditional high school serving both eleventh and twelfth graders who have experienced difficulties in the traditional school environment. KVA is located in a 6,400 square feet facility in Knoxville Center Mall in Knoxville, Tennessee. As a Tennessee Public school offering elementary or secondary education, KVA is an educational institution under Tennessee law. However, the beneficiary has not submitted sufficient information showing he is in full-time attendance.

2. OPINION

QUESTION

You asked whether Dr. Paul Kelley Volunteer Academy (KVA), a non-traditional high school in Tennessee, is an educational institution for determining if the beneficiary qualifies for child’s insurance benefits as a full-time elementary or secondary school student. You also asked whether the beneficiary is attending school full time for determining if he qualifies for child’s insurance benefits as a full-time elementary or secondary school student.

OPINION

KVA is an educational institution offering elementary or secondary education under Tennessee law. However, the beneficiary has not submitted sufficient information showing he is in full-time attendance at KVA for determining his eligibility for child’s insurance benefits.

BACKGROUND

According to the information provided, Thomas (Beneficiary) receives child’s insurance benefits (CIB) on the earnings record of Thomas. Beneficiary turned age eighteen on July XX, 2012. On January 17, 2013, Beneficiary completed a Student’s Statement Regarding School Attendance (page 2 of Form SSA-1372-BK), in which he indicated he attended KVA, a high school in Knoxville, Tennessee, full time for the 2012-2013 school year. Beneficiary reported he attends KVA for twenty hours per week and expects to graduate from high school in May 2013, but he also reported he would not be attending full time from January to May 2013. Beneficiary further reported he receives no payment from an employer to attend school. He did not indicate whether he was disabled or married. Beneficiary provided a Tennessee mailing address on the school attendance form he completed. The principal at KVA signed Beneficiary’s form, but did not check the boxes for confirming whether the information Beneficiary provided was correct or if the school’s course of study lasted at least thirteen weeks. In addition, the information provided does not indicate any KVA official completed the Certification by School Official page of Form SSA-1372-BK or otherwise provided a statement regarding Beneficiary’s attendance.

According to the Tennessee Department of Education’s website, KVA is a non-traditional public high school.14 The Knox County, Tennessee Schools’ website also lists KVA as a non-traditional school in its district.15 KVA’s website explains that KVA is a non-traditional high school serving both eleventh and twelfth graders who have experienced difficulties in the traditional school environment. 16

KVA is located in a 6,400 square feet facility in Knoxville Center Mall.17 KVA students must choose to attend one of two sessions each day Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. or 12:45 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., and attendance is mandatory.18 KVA follows the Knox County Schools Calendar. 19 For the 2012-2013 calendar year, school in Knox County began on Tuesday August 14, 2012, and will end on Wednesday May 22, 2013. 20

KVA offers core and elective courses in Language Arts, Science, Mathematics, and Social Studies, as well as electives in Business.21 Instruction at KVA is both direct and computer based.22

DISCUSSION

To be eligible for CIB on the earnings record of an individual entitled to “old-age or disability insurance benefits, or of an individual who dies a fully or currently insured individual,” a beneficiary who is eighteen years or older and not disabled must be a “full-time elementary or secondary school student.” See Social Security Act (Act) § 202(d)(1)(B)(i); 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.350(a)(5), 404.367 (2012); 23 Program Operations Manual System (POMS) RS 00205.001. To qualify as a “full-time elementary or secondary school student,” a beneficiary must attend an educational institution, i.e., a school that provides elementary or secondary education (twelfth grade or below) as determined under the law of the State in which the school is located. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A), (C)(i), (C)(ii); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a), (e); POMS RS 00205.001.A; POMS RS 00205.200.A. Unless there is evidence to the contrary, SSA presumes public high schools located in the United States are educational institutions. POMS RS 00205.250.B.1.

A beneficiary also must attend school full time to qualify as a “full-time elementary or secondary school student.” See Act § 202(d)(7)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b), (c); POMS RS 00205.001.A; POMS RS 00205.300.A. The POMS states that a beneficiary is in full-time attendance if he or she meets both State and Federal standards for full-time attendance. See POMS RS 00205.300.A. A beneficiary meets the State standards if the school considers the beneficiary to be full-time based on the school’s standards and practices. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b); POMS RS 00205.300.B; POMS RS 00205.350.C.1. A beneficiary meets the Federal standards if he or she is scheduled to attend school at least twenty hours per week, enrolled in a noncorrespondence course, and enrolled in a course of study lasting at least thirteen weeks. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b), (c); POMS RS 00205.300.C. The regulations and POMS do not appear to define “noncorrespondence course” or “correspondence course.” However, the POMS defines “correspondence school” as “a school that teaches by mailing lessons and exercises to the student. Upon completion, the student returns the exercises to the school for grading.” POMS RS 00205.330.A.

Beneficiary and KVA’s website indicate KVA is in Knoxville, Tennessee. 24 Therefore, we look to Tennessee law to determine whether KVA is a school that provides elementary or secondary education. Under Tennessee law, every child between age six and seventeen must attend public or non-public school. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-6-3001(c)(1) (West 2013). 25 A “Public school” is any school operated by a local education agency or by the State with public funds. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-6-3001(c)(3)(B); see also Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-1-103(2) (defining local education agency to include any county school system or other local public school system or district authorized by the general assembly). The Tennessee Department of Education’s website identifies KVA as a public school, and none of the information available indicates KVA is not a public school. 26 SSA generally presumes public high schools located in the United States are educational institutions absent evidence to the contrary. POMS RS 00205.250.B.1. Thus, KVA is an educational institution.

Beneficiary, however, has not submitted sufficient information showing he attends KVA full time. Beneficiary reported he is attending full time and scheduled to attend KVA for twenty hours per week. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(c). However, Beneficiary also indicated that he would not be attending full time for the full month from January to May 2013. Moreover, although KVA’s principal signed Beneficiary’s Student’s Statement Regarding School Attendance, the principal did not answer the questions regarding whether the information Beneficiary provided was correct or that the school’s course of study lasts at least thirteen weeks. 27 See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b). In addition, the information provided does not indicate any KVA official completed the Certification by School Official page of Form SSA-1372-BK or otherwise provided a statement regarding Beneficiary’s attendance. Beneficiary is responsible for having a school official complete the certification portion of the form. See POMS RS 00205.735.B. SSA considers a beneficiary’s failure to submit a completed SSA-1372-BK, or its equivalent, as a failure to establish full-time attendance at an educational institution. See id. Thus, because Beneficiary failed to submit a completed SSA-1372-BK or other information indicating he meets the State and Federal requirements for full-time attendance, Beneficiary has not established that he is attending KVA full time. 28

CONCLUSION

As a Tennessee Public school, KVA is an educational institution under Tennessee law. However, Beneficiary has not submitted sufficient information to show he is attending KVA full time.

Sincerely,

Mary A. Sloan
Regional Chief Counsel

By: Laura Verduci
Assistant Regional Counsel

F. PR 09-068 Status of Riverside Christian Academy in Fayetteville, Tennessee as an Education Institution Number Holder - Robert Claimant - Jacqueline

DATE: March 6, 2009

1. SYLLABUS

The Riverside Christian Academy (RCA) in Fayetteville, Tennessee, is considered a church-related school. As a church-related school that provides elementary and secondary education under Tennessee law, the RCA is as an educational institution for SSA purposes.

2. OPINION

QUESTION

You asked whether Riverside Christian Academy in Fayetteville, Tennessee qualifies as an education institution that provides "elementary and secondary education" for the Social Security Administration's purposes.

OPINION

For the reasons stated below, we conclude Riverside is an education institution that provides "elementary and secondary education." However, the material you provided does not establish that the home schooling arrangement of the claimant in this case satisfies Tennessee law. Unless and until the claimant provides sufficient documentation, we cannot conclude she qualifies as a full-time elementary or secondary school student. .

BACKGROUND

According to the information we received, this matter involves an application for continued child benefits filed by Jacqueline (Claimant) on the earnings record of her father, Robert, the number holder. Claimant turned eighteen years old on February XX, 2009, and has submitted Form SSA-1372 requesting extension of her benefits beyond age eighteen. She reported she is home schooled by her mother, Sherry in association with the Homeschool Umbrella program offered by Riverside Christian Academy (Riverside). See Riverside's Homeschool Umbrella webpage, http://www.riversidechristianacademy.org/homeschool.html st visited Feb. 27, 2009). The State of Tennessee and the Tennessee Department of Education classify Riverside as a non-public school. See Tennessee Department of Education 2008-2009 Non-Public School http://www.tennessee.gov/education/ schapproval/nonpublic.shtmlListing, st visited Feb. 26, 2009). Riverside is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) and the National Christian School Association (NCSA) and also a member school of the Tennessee Association of Church-Related Schools (TACRS). Id., see also Riverside's Accreditation and Memberships webpage, http://www.riversidechristianacademy.org/facts.htmlst visited Feb. 26, 2009). Riverside provides education from kindergarten to twelfth grade. See Riverside's Academics webpage, http://www.riversidechristianacademy.org/facts.htmlst visited Feb. 27, 2009).

DISCUSSION

To be eligible for child's benefits on the earnings record of an insured person who has died or who is entitled to old-age or disability benefits, a claimant eighteen years or older who is not disabled must be a full-time elementary or secondary school student. See Social Security Act (Act) § 202(d)(1)(B)(i), 42 U.S.C. § 402(d)(1)(B)(i) (2008); 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.350(a)(5), 404.367 (2008). An individual may be eligible as a "full-time elementary or secondary school student" if he or she attends a school that provides elementary or secondary education as determined under the law of the state in which the school is located. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A), (C)(i); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a) (2008). An individual also may be eligible as a full-time elementary or secondary school student if she is "instructed in elementary or secondary school at home in accordance with a home school law of the State or other jurisdiction in which [the claimant] reside[s]." 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a)(1) (2008). Claimant resides in Tennessee; therefore, we look to Tennessee law to determine if her home schooling through Riverside qualifies her as a full-time student.

Tennessee allows home schooling, a home school affiliated with a church-related school, and a church-related school operating at home. See Tenn. Stat. Ann. §§ 49-6-3050(a)(1), (2)(A), 49-50-801 (West 2008); Requirements for Homeschools in Tennessee on Tennessee Department of http://www.tennessee.gov/education/homeschool Education website, st visited March 4, 2009). Generally, a parent choosing to home school his or her child pursuant to Tenn. Stat. Ann. § 49-6-3050 must meet certain requirements including:

(1) possessing at least a high school diploma or generalized educational development certificate (GED);

(2) administering an annual standardized achievement test or the Sanders Model of value-added assessment, whichever is used in the LEA (local education agency; i.e., local school board) and sanctioned by the state board of education;

(3) registering the student with the LEA the student would otherwise attend;

(4) adhering to the same program of the Sanders Model of value-added assessment, or other standardized achievement testing in use in the LEA where the child would otherwise attend; if the student fails, for two consecutive years, to meet or surpass the average level of achievement in the Sanders Model of value-added assessment or other standardized achievement test in use in the LEA, the child must be enrolled in the appropriate grade level of the LEA or private or church-related school.

See Tenn. Stat. § 49-6-3050(a)(2)(B), (C) (West 2008); Home Schooling in Tennessee on Tennessee Department of Education website, http://www.tennessee.gov/education/homeschoolst visited Feb. 27, 2009).

A parent may also home school his or her child by affiliating with and registering with a church-related school defined by Tenn. Stat. Ann. § 49-50-801. A parent affiliated with and registered with a church-related school is still required to meet the requirements of the home school law, as previously discussed. See Tenn. Stat. Ann. § 49-6-3050(a)(2)(B), (C) (West 2008). A claimant's parent must to show that these requirements are met before the Social Security Administration can approve the home school arrangement as an educational institution. See Program Operations Manual System (POMS) RS 00205.275C ("The child's home school instructor must submit evidence that State requirements for home schooling are met.").

A parent may also enroll his or her child in church-related school and then the church-related school hires or appoints the parent to serve as a teacher in his or her home and establish a school in that home. Additional Educational Option on Tennessee Department of Education website, http://www.tennessee.gov/education/homeschool st visited Feb. 27, 2009). Though this option is not defined by Tennessee law as a "home school" and actually falls under the definition of a church-related school operating at a home, many parents exercising this educational option refer to their arrangement as "home schooling." Id. Parents teaching in such capacity must follow the requirements for all church-related schools including the duty to report the names, ages and addresses of all children in attendance. Id. However, parents teaching in such a capacity do not need to meet the educational requirements of the home school law provided in Tenn. Stat. Ann § 49-6-3050. Id.

Here, Claimant's parent/teacher has not provided documentation regarding which of these schooling options she is operating under. If Claimant's parent/teacher is providing home schooling pursuant to Tenn. Stat. Ann. § 49-6-3050, she has not provided documentation that the requirements of this statute have been met. See Tenn. Stat. § 49-6-3050(a)(2)(B), (C) (West 2008).

Though the Claimant has not provided the necessary documentation to establish the nature of her home schooling through Riverside, we can still address Riverside's status as an education institution. As previously noted, Riverside is listed as a non-public school. See Tennessee Department of Education 2008-2009 Non-Public School Listing, above. Non-public schools include church-related schools, home schools, and private schools. See Tenn. Stat. Ann. § 49-6-3001(c)(3)(A) (West 2008). We conclude Riverside's umbrella program qualifies as a church-related school under Tennessee law.

A "church-related school" is operated by a denominational, parochial, or other bona fide church organization, which must meet the standards of accreditation or membership of the Tennessee Association of Christian Schools, the Association of Christian Schools International, the Tennessee Association of Independent Schools, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the Tennessee Association of Non-Public Academic Schools, the Tennessee Association of Church Related Schools, or a school affiliated with Accelerated Christian Education, Inc. Tenn. Stat. Ann. § 49-50-801(a). Riverside is accredited by and a member of organizations listed in Tenn. Stat. Ann. § 49-50-801, specifically SACS and TACRS. See Tenn. Stat. Ann. § 49-6-3050(a)(2)(A); Tennessee Department of Education 2008-2009 Non-Public School Listing, above; Riverside's Accreditation and Memberships, above. In addition, the Tennessee Department of Education classifies RCA as a Category III and IV school. See Tennessee Department of Education 2008-2009 Non-Public School Listing, above. Category III schools are members of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Tenn. Comp. R. & Regs. 0520-7-2-.01(c) (West 2008). Category IV schools are those schools which are "church related" and exempt from regulations according to Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-50-801. Based on Riverside's accreditation, membership, and classifications, Riverside is considered a church-related school under Tennessee law.

CONCLUSION

As a church-related school, Riverside qualifies for SSA's purposes as an education institution that provides "elementary and secondary education." However, absent further evidence from Claimant and her parent/teacher, Claimant would not qualify as a full-time student for the purposes of child's benefits because she failed to present evidence regarding her home schooling through Riverside. For these reasons, we recommend that you deny the claim unless and until Claimant and her parent/teacher provide the necessary documentation, listed above.

Mary A. Sloan
Regional Chief Counsel

By: Simone D. Pereira
Assistant Regional Counsel

G. PR 09-074 Status of Heritage Covenant School - Tennessee Number Holder - Maurice Claimant - Shelby

DATE: March 17, 2009

1. SYLLABUS

The Heritage Covenant School in Lobelville, Tennessee, provides elementary and secondary education in accordance with Tennessee law and is, therefore, an educational insitution for SSA purposes.

2. OPINION

QUESTION PRESENTED

You asked whether Heritage Covenant School (Heritage) can be classified as an educational institution for the purpose of determining entitlement to child's insurance benefits.

OPINION

The materials submitted establish that Shelby (Claimant) was attending a church-related satellite school program that satisfies the requirements of Tennessee law.

BACKGROUND

According to Heritage's website, Heritage is a church related school in Tennessee. See http://www.hcsedu.com/Heritage Covenant School website, st visited Mar. 3, 2009). The school's website also indicates Heritage provides its services solely under the provisions of the Church-related Schools Act of the state of Tennessee and students are enrolled in the satellite classroom program. Heritage's satellite program consists of individualized instruction under the supervision of the Heritage Headmaster. Heritage is a member of the Tennessee Association of Church Related Schools. See id. Heritage states it is classified by the Tennessee State Department of Education as a Category IV Church-Related School exempt from accreditation. See Heritage Handbook, http://www.hcsedu.com/Handbookpages/handbook.htmst visited Mar. 3, 2009).

Heritage keeps an attendance report on each student. A student is considered "present," if during the day, he or she receives academic instruction under an organized format by their primary teacher or if they are participating in a field trip organized or designed for the purpose of instruction. See Heritage Handbook, http://www.hcsedu.com/Handbookpages/handbook.htmsited March 3, 2009). An academic evaluation must be completed and turned in to Heritage within two weeks of the end of each quarter. Heritage maintains this evaluation in the student's permanent file for determining the student's compliance with the compulsory attendance law of Tennessee. See Heritage Handbook http://www.hcsedu.com/Handbookpages/handbook.htm sited March 3, 2009).

Heritage's graduation requirements incorporate the course requirements established by the Tennessee Department of Education and additional requirements prescribed by the Board of Directors of Heritage. The standard academic diploma is awarded to students who satisfactorily complete the specified twenty-one and a half units of study. See Heritage Handbook http://www.hcsedu.com/Handbookpages/handbook.htmsited March 3, 2009). To graduate from Heritage, students must pass classes in English, Mathematics (One credit must be Algebra I), Science, Humanities, U.S. History, World History, World Geography, Economics, American Government, Southern History, Computer Keyboarding, Lifetime Wellness, Health, Worldview, and Electives including a half-credit unit of Bible. See Heritage http://www.hcsedu.com/Handbookpages/handbook.htmHandbook sited March 3, 2009).

Additionally, Heritage offers a College Prep Diploma to students who satisfactorily complete the requirements of the standard diploma, plus complete two units of Foreign Language and one unit of Fine Arts. Heritage offers a classical studies diploma to students who satisfactorily complete the College Prep Diploma requirements, and additionally complete one unit of Logic, two units of Latin, and one unit of Rhetoric, and during their Senior year present a research paper under the guidance of the Heritage administration. See Heritage Handbook http://www.hcsedu.com/Handbookpages/handbook.htmsited March 3, 2009).

The State of Tennessee and the Tennessee Department of Education classify Heritage as a non-public school. See Tennessee Department of Education 2008-2009 Non-Public School Listing, http://www.tennessee.gov/education/schapproval/nonpublic.shtml st visited Mar. 3, 2009). In addition, Heritage is classified as a Category IV school by the Tennessee Department of Education. See id. Category IV schools are Church-Related Schools as recognized by associations mentioned in Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-50-801.

Claimant indicated on Student's Statements Regarding School Attendance forms that she was attending Heritage full time. She indicated that she was attending Heritage as a ("homeschool") satellite school attendee. Claimant stated that she was scheduled to attend Heritage twenty hours a week. Claimant indicated her school year began on August 15th and ended on May 16th. Claimant is expected to graduate in May 2009. A Heritage school official signed the Claimant's statement indicating that these statements were true.

DISCUSSION

To be eligible for child's benefits on the earnings record of an insured person who is entitled to old-age or disability benefits, a claimant eighteen years or older who is not disabled must be a full-time elementary or secondary school student. See Social Security Act (Act) § 202(d)(1)(B)(i); 42 U.S.C. § 402(d)(1)(B)(i); 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.350(a)(5), 404.367 (2008). An individual may be eligible as a "full-time elementary or secondary school student" if he or she attends a school that provides elementary or secondary education as determined under the law of the state in which the school is located. See Act § 202.(d)(7)(A), (C)(i); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a). Attendance means attendance at a school facility, unless a student is home schooled. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a); Program Operations Manual System RS 00205.310B. Because Heritage is located in Tennessee, we look to Tennessee law to determine if Heritage is a school that provides elementary or secondary education.

Tennessee law expressly recognizes church-related schools. Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-50-801 (2009). A church school is defined as a school operated by a denominational, parochial, or other bona fide church organization that meets the standards of accreditation or membership of several designated organizations, including the Tennessee Association of Church Related Schools. Id. Heritage is a member of the Tennessee Association of Church Related Schools. In addition, the Tennessee Department of Education classifies Heritage as a Category IV school. See Tennessee Department of Education 2008-2009 Non-Public School Listing, above. Category IV schools are those schools that are "church related" and exempt from regulations according to Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-50-801. Heritage operates under the Tennessee Legal Homeschooling Option III, where the home is considered a satellite campus of the church-related school. See Heritage Covenant School website, http://www.hcsedu.com/st visited Mar. 3, 2009). The Tennessee Department of Education recognized this option in a memorandum from the Commissioner of Education to superintendents and directors of schools dated February 18, 1999. See Heritage Covenant School website, http://www.hcsedu.com/st visited Mar. 3, 2009). Even though this option is not defined in state law as a "home school" and actually falls under the definition of a church-related school operating at a home, many parents exercising this educational option refer to this process as "home schooling." Tennessee Department of Education, Requirements for Homeschools in Tennessee http://state.tn.us/education/homeschoolsited March 10, 2009). Parents need not comply with the notice, registration, teacher qualifications, and standardized testing requirements for home schools. Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-6-3050(a)(2)(A) (2008). Based on Heritage's membership and classifications, it is considered a church-related school under Tennessee law.

According to the information furnished, Claimant was in full-time attendance at her church-related school program. Full-time attendance requires participation in a course of at least thirteen weeks duration for twenty hours a week. 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b), (c). Claimant's courses lasted more than thirteen weeks, as she indicated she was a full-time student for at least twenty hours a week from August to May. Claimant, therefore, has provided evidence that she is an individual who attends a school that provides elementary or secondary education as determined under the law of Tennessee. See Act §202(d)(7)(A), (C)(i); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a). The record supports a finding that Claimant is a full-time secondary school student. See Act § 202(d)(1)(B)(i); 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.350(a)(5), 404.367.

CONCLUSION

We find legal support for concluding Heritage is a church-related school under Tennessee law and qualifies as an educational institution for purposes of determining entitlement to child's insurance benefits.

Mary A. Sloan
Regional Chief Counsel

By: Richard V. Blake
Assistant Regional Counsel

H. PR 09-067 Status of Gateway Christian Schools and Their Extension Programs - Tennessee Number Holders - Garland, Walter, Lisa

DATE: December 1, 2008

1. SYLLABUS

The Gateway Christian Schools (GCS), based in Memphis, Tennessee, provide elementary and secondary education in accordance with Tennessee law and are, therefore, educational institutions for SSA purposes. The GCS include a traditional campus school, an extension program, and a home education program.

2. OPINION

QUESTION PRESENTED

You asked whether Gateway Christian Schools and their extension programs ("Gateway") can be classified as an educational institution for the purpose of determining entitlement to child's insurance benefits.

OPINION

The materials provided establish that Gateway meets Tennessee's requirements for a church-related school that provides elementary and secondary education. So, Gateway is an educational institution for entitlement purposes.

BACKGROUND

According to the materials provided, Gateway is a Christian elementary and secondary school with three extension programs from which parents and legal guardians can choose. Gateway has a traditional campus school in Memphis, Tennessee. Gateway has an extension program in which students come to one of Gateway's centers, pick up self-instructional curriculum materials, study under parental supervision, and then return to the center for tutoring or to take weekly tests. Finally, Gateway has a total home education program for parents who accept full responsibility for the education of their children.

The State of Tennessee and the Tennessee Department of Education classify Gateway as a non-public school. See Tennessee Department of Education 2008-2009 Non-Public School Listing http://www.tennessee.gov/education/schapproval/nonpublic.shtml sited November 20, 2008). Gateway is accredited by the National Private Schools Accreditation Alliance (NPSAA) and the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI). Gateway's website http://gatewaychristianschools.com/gatewaychristianschools_001.htmsited November 20, 2008). In addition, Gateway is classified as a Category IV school by the Tennessee Department of Education. See Tennessee Department of Education 2008-2009 Non-Public School Listing, above.

Amanda, Kyle, and Sherri (hereinafter, referred to individually as Amanda, Kyle, and Sherri, respectively, and collectively as Claimants) indicated on Student's Statements Regarding School Attendance forms that they were attending Gateway full time. Claimants did not indicate the Gateway extension program in which they participated. Claimants, however, did state that they were scheduled to attend Gateway twenty hours a week. Claimants indicated their school year began in either August or September and ended in May. Amanda was expected to graduate in May 2008, Kyle was expected to graduate between 2008 and 2009, and Sherri was expected to graduate in May 2009. Gateway school officials signed the Claimants' statements indicating that these statements were true.

DISCUSSION

To be eligible for child's benefits on the earnings record of an insured person who is entitled to old-age or disability benefits, a claimant eighteen years or older who is not disabled must be a full-time elementary or secondary school student. See Social Security Act § 202(d)(1)(B)(i); 42 U.S.C. § 402(d)(1)(B)(i); 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.350(a)(5), 404.367 (2008). An individual can meet this requirement if he or she attends a school that provides elementary or secondary education as determined under the law of the state in which the school is located. 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a). Attendance means attendance at a school facility, unless a student is home schooled. See id.; Program Operations Manual System RS 00205.310B. Because Claimants reside in Tennessee, we look to Tennessee law to determine if their educational program qualifies them as full-time secondary school students.

Tennessee law expressly recognizes church-related schools. Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-50-801. (2008). A church school is defined as a school operated by a denominational, parochial, or other bona fide church organization that meets the standards of accreditation or membership in various organizations including ACSI. Id. Gateway is accredited by ACSI. In addition, the Tennessee Department of Education classifies Gateway as a Category IV school. See Tennessee Department of Education 2008-2009 Non-Public School Listing, above. Category IV schools are those schools which are "church related" and exempt from regulations according to Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-50-801. Based on Gateway's accreditation and categorization, we believe Gateway is a church-related school under Tennessee law.

According to the information furnished, Amanda and Kyle were in full-time attendance at their church-related school but the information related to Sherri is less clear. Full-time attendance requires participation in a course of at least thirteen weeks duration for twenty hours a week. 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b), (c). Amanda and Kyle's courses lasted more than thirteen weeks, as they indicated they were full-time students for at least twenty hours a week from August or September to May. Sherri, on the other hand, indicated only that school began in September 2006 and that she planned to graduate in May 2009; she did not provide dates for the current school year's beginning or end. It is therefore unclear whether Sherri attended a course of at least thirteen weeks.

CONCLUSION

We find legal support for concluding Gateway is a church-related school under Tennessee law and qualifies as an educational institution for purposes of determining entitlement to child's insurance benefits. Because Amanda and Kyle have been in full-time attendance at a secondary school recognized by the state of Tennessee, Amanda and Kyle can qualify as full-time secondary school students for the purposes of child's insurance benefits. The information related to Sherri does not clearly establish her status as a full-time student.

Mary A. Sloan
Regional Chief Counsel

By: Arthurice Brundidge
Assistant Regional Counsel

I. PR 09-065 Status of Bible Church Academy as an Educational Institution - Tennessee

DATE: March 3, 2009

1. SYLLABUS

The Bible Church Academy (BCA) in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, provides elementary and secondary education in accordance with Tennessee law. The BCA is, therefore, an educational institution for SSA purposes.

2. OPINION

QUESTION PRESENTED

You asked whether Bible Church Academy can be classified as an educational institution for the purpose of determining entitlement to child's insurance benefits.

OPINION

The information provided establishes that Bible Church Academy meets Tennessee's requirements for a church-related school that provides elementary and secondary education; therefore, Bible Church Academy is an educational institution for entitlement purposes.

BACKGROUND

According to the materials provided, Bible Church Academy is a Christian school that offers instruction at the elementary and secondary school levels. The materials also indicate Bible Church Academy is affiliated with Accelerated Christian Education (ACE). The State of Tennessee and the Tennessee Department of Education classify Bible Church Academy as a non-public school. See Tennessee Department of Education 2008-2009 Non-Public School Listing: http://www.tennessee.gov/education/schapproval/nonpublic.shtml sited February 24, 2009). In addition, Bible Church Academy is classified as a Category IV school by the Tennessee Department of Education. See id.

DISCUSSION

To be eligible for child's benefits on the earnings record of an insured person who is entitled to old-age or disability benefits, a claimant eighteen years or older who is not disabled must be a full-time elementary or secondary school student. See Social Security Act (Act) § 202(d)(1)(B)(i); 42 U.S.C. § 402(d)(1)(B)(i); 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.350(a)(5), 404.367 (2008). An individual can meet this requirement if he or she attends a school that provides elementary or secondary education as determined under the law of the state in which the school is located. See Act § 202(d)(7)(A), (C)(i); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a). Because Bible Church Academy is located in Tennessee, we look to Tennessee law to determine whether Bible Church Academy qualifies as an elementary and/or secondary school.

Tennessee law expressly recognizes church-related schools. Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-50-801 (2008). A church school is defined as a school operated by a denominational, parochial, or other bona fide church organization that meets the standards of accreditation or membership in various organizations including schools associated with ACE. Id. Bible Church Academy is associated with ACE. In addition, the Tennessee Department of Education classifies Bible Church Academy as a Category IV school. See Tennessee Department of Education 2008-2009 Non-Public School Listing, above. Category IV schools are those schools which are "church related" and exempt from regulations according to Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-50-801. See id. Claimant Carl indicates he is home schooled through the Bible Church Academy. According to the Tennessee Department of Education, the Bible Church Academy operates under the Tennessee Legal Homeschooling Option III, where the home is considered a satellite campus of the church-related school. See id. (noting the Bible Church Academy is a satellite school). Even though this option is not defined in state laws as a "home school" and actually falls under the definition of a church-related school operating at a home, many parents exercising this educational option refer to this process as "home schooling." Tennessee Department of Education, Requirements for Homeschools in Tennessee: http://state.tn.us/education/homeschool sited March 3, 2009). Based on Bible Church Academy's accreditation and categorization, we believe Bible Church Academy is a church-related school under Tennessee law.

You have not asked whether Claimant can qualify as a full-time elementary or secondary student for the purposes of child's insurance benefits, and you have not provided sufficient information to make that determination. Therefore, we have not considered the issue.

CONCLUSION

We find legal support for concluding Bible Church Academy is a church-related school under Tennessee law and qualifies as an educational institution for purposes of determining entitlement to child's insurance benefits.

Mary A. Sloan
Regional Chief Counsel

By: Jennifer L. Patel
Assistant Regional Counsel

J. PR 08-140 Status of Independent Study High School - Tennessee Number Holder - Mark

DATE: June 26, 2008

1. SYLLABUS

Berean Christian High School in Knoxville, Tennessee, provides secondary education in compliance with Tennessee law and is, therefore, an educational institution for SSA purposes.

2. OPINION

QUESTION

You asked whether a claimant's participation in an independent study program at Berean Christian High School, which provides curriculum for home schooling and joint enrollment classes at a local community college, qualifies the claimant as a full-time elementary or secondary school student.

OPINION

The materials submitted by the claimant establish that she was either attending a church-related home school that satisfies the home schooling requirements of Tennessee law or is in full time attendance at an appropriate non-correspondence course. Therefore, we conclude that the Claimant qualified as a full-time secondary school student.

BACKGROUND

According to the materials and information we received, Andrea (Claimant) currently receives child's insurance benefits on the earnings record of Mark , her father and the number holder. Claimant turned eighteen on January XX, 2008. Claimant has been taking courses at home and at a community college through Berean Christian High School. Claimant graduated from high school in May 2008. Berean Christian High School is accredited by the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI) and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). Berean Christian High School also is one of the church-related schools specifically approved by the Tennessee State Department of Education. Claimant participated in the school's independent study program, which included classes completed at home and at a local community college. Claimant's home teacher, who has a master's degree and worked as a teacher for many years, taught curriculum provided by the school and graded work Claimant performed at home. Required standardized testing was administered at the school. Claimant's work at the community college was graded by her professors at the college. Claimant's transcript indicates that she took subjects and carried a credit load meeting state and local requirements. All students of Berean Christian School attend school 180 days a year at least 25 hours a week. The students take nationally standardized tests such as the Stanford Achievement Test and the ACT college entrance examination each year.

DISCUSSION

To be eligible for child's benefits on the earnings record of an insured person who is entitled to old-age or disability benefits, a claimant eighteen years or older who is not disabled must be a full-time elementary or secondary school student. See Social Security Act (Act) § 202(d)(1)(B)(i); 42 U.S.C. § 402(d)(1)(B)(i); 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.350(a)(5), 404.367 (2007). An individual is eligible if she attends a school that provides elementary or secondary education as determined under the law of the state in which it is located. 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a). Attendance means attendance at a school facility, unless a student is home schooled. See id.; Program Operations Manual System (POMS) RS 00205.310B. An individual also may be eligible if she is in an independent study program in accordance with the law of the state in which she resides which is administered by the local school or school district. 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a)(2). Independent study programs involve periodic teacher contact, direction, and testing on campus, with the student making academic progress generally through independent study at home. POMS RS 00205.285A. Students in independent study situations can qualify if the student is in full time attendance in a school that provides elementary or secondary education as determined under state law. 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a)(2); POMS RS 00205.285B. Claimant resides in Tennessee; therefore, we look to Tennessee law to determine if her educational program qualifies her as a full-time elementary or secondary school student.

Tennessee law expressly recognizes church-related schools. Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-50-801. (2008). A church school is defined as a school operated by denominational, parochial or other bona fide church organizations which meet the standards of accreditation or membership in various organizations including ACSI and SACS. Id. A church-related home school is a home school registered with a state recognized church-related school as defined in section 49-50-801. Berean Christian High School is accredited by ACSI and SACS and is also one of the church related schools specifically approved by the Tennessee State Department of Education. Tennessee Department of Education 2007-2008 Non-Public School Listing (visited June 23, 2008): http://www.tennessee.gov/education/schapproval/nonpublic.shtmlo teach a church-related home school, a parent or guardian must have at least a high school diploma or a GED. Tennessee Procedures for Church-Related Home Schools (2008), above. Claimant's guardian has a master's degree and is an experienced teacher. Claimant also attends classes at a community college. Claimant's local school district, the Knox County Department of Public Instruction, allows instruction at home via church-related satellite programs from within the state of Tennessee and state accredited. Knox County Department of Public Instruction, Home School Procedures (2008). Accordingly, Claimant has been enrolled in a school that provides secondary education as determined under state law pursuant to 20 C.F.R. Sec. 404.367(a)(1). It is less clear whether Claimant's educational program also meets the requirements for an independent study course. See 20 C.F.R. Sec. 404.367(a)(2). Although her independent study program is approved by Tennessee law and local regulation, the program does not appear to be administered by the local public school or school district. Her school, however, is on a list of schools specifically approved by the Tennessee Department of Education.

Claimant also carried a full time subject load under Berean Christian High School's standards and practices. http://www.bereanchristian.org/ lthough some of Claimant's course work was completed at a local community college, this program is approved as a secondary level school program by state law, local regulation, and school policy. Accordingly, her education is considered to be at the secondary level. POMS RS 00205.200(B)(2). Claimant also has been in full time attendance at her church-related program. Full time attendance requires participation in a course of at least 13 weeks duration for 20 hours a week. 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b), (c). Claimant's course lasted more than 13 weeks and she attended for at least 20 hours a week. There is no indication that Claimant has been paid to attend school by an employer or is attending school via a program for prisoners. See 20 C.F.R. Secs. 404.367(d), (e), (f).

CONCLUSION

Because Claimant has been in full time attendance at a secondary school recognized by the state of Tennessee, she can qualify as a full-time elementary or secondary school student for the purposes of child's insurance benefits.

Mary A. Sloan
Regional Chief Counsel

By: Laurie G. Remter
Assistant Regional Counsel

K. PR 08-135 Status of St. Andrews Sewanee School as an Education Institution - Tennessee Number Holder - Paul Claimant - Alexandra

DATE: June 26, 2008

1. SYLLABUS

St. Andrew's Sewanee School in Sewanee, Tennessee, provides elementary and secondary education under Tennessee law and is, therefore, an educational institution for SSA purposes.

2. OPINION

QUESTION

You asked whether St. Andrew's Sewanee School (SAS) in Sewanee, Tennessee, meets the qualifications for being considered an education institution that provides "elementary and secondary education" for the Social Security Administration's purposes.

OPINION

For the reasons stated below, it is our opinion that SAS is an education institution that provides "elementary and secondary education."

BACKGROUND

Alexandra (Claimant) received child's insurance benefits as a minor on the earnings record of Paul, her father and the number holder. Claimant turned eighteen years old on March XX, 2008, and is requesting an extension of her benefits beyond the age eighteen. She currently attends classes at SAS in Sewanee, Tennessee. The State of Tennessee and Tennessee Department of Education classify SAS as a non-public school. See Tennessee Department of Education 2007-2008 Non-Public School Listing (visited June 23, 2008): http://www.tennessee.gov/education/schapproval/nonpublic.shtmlAS also is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and a member school of the Tennessee Association of Independent Schools. See id.SAS provides education for grades six through twelve. See, SAS in Short Enrollment Information (visited June 23, 2008)

http://www.sasweb.org/aboutsas/sasinshort.asp

DISCUSSION

The Social Security Act provides for benefits for children of individuals who are entitled to old-age or disability insurance benefits or who die with sufficient insured coverage. See Social Security Act (Act) § 202(d)(1), 42 U.S.C. § 402(d)(1); 20 C.F.R. § 404.350(a) (2007). To be eligible for child's benefits on the earnings record of an insured person who has died or who is entitled to old-age or disability benefits, a claimant eighteen years or older who is not disabled must be a full-time elementary or secondary school student. See Act § 202(d)(1)(B); 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.350(a)(5), 404.367 (2007). An individual may be eligible as a full-time elementary or secondary student if she attends a school that provides elementary or secondary education as determined under the law of the State or other jurisdiction in which it is located. 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a). Claimant resides in Tennessee; therefore, we look to Tennessee law to determine if the school she attends, SAS, qualifies as an education institution.

Under Tennessee law, every parent, guardian, or other legal custodian residing within the state having control or charge of any child between six years of age and seventeen years of age, shall cause such child to attend public or non-public school. See Program Operations Manual System (POMS) PR 07905.047A., PR 08-005 Status of Mountain Empire Baptist School as an Education Institution - Tennessee Number Holder - Carl Claimant - Christa (PR 08-005). Non-public schools include church-related schools, home schools, and private schools. See id. SAS does not permit home schooling. Therefore, the question is whether SAS qualifies as a church-related school or private school under Tennessee law.

A "church-related school" is operated by a denominational, parochial, or other bona fide church organization, which is required to meet the standards of accreditation or membership of the Tennessee Association of Christian Schools, the Association of Christian Schools International, the Tennessee Association of Independent Schools, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the Tennessee Association of Non-Public Academic Schools, the Tennessee Association of Church Related Schools, or a school affiliated with Accelerated Christian Education, Inc. See id. The websites for SAS and the Tennessee Department of Education provide that SAS is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. See About SAS (visited June 23, 2008):http://www.sasweb.org/aboutsas/index.asp Tennessee Department of Education 2007-2008 Non-Public School Listing, above. SAS is also a member school of the Tennessee Association of Independent Schools. See Directory of Schools of TAIS, (visited June 23, 2008): http://www.taistn.org/page.cfm?p=3&filter_data5=&filter_data9=Sewanee&key=ennessee Department of Education 2007-2008 Non-Public School Listing, above. In addition, SAS is classified as a Category III and IV school. See Tennessee Department of Education 2007-2008 Non-Public School Listing, above. Category III schools are members of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Tenn. Comp. R. & Regs. 0520-7-2-.01(c) (2007). Category IV schools are those schools which are "church related" and exempt from regulations according to Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-50-801. See, PR 08-005. Based on SAS's accreditation, membership, and classifications, SAS is considered a church-related school under Tennessee law.

CONCLUSION

As a church-related school, SAS qualifies for SSA's purposes as an education institution that provides "elementary and secondary education."

Mary A. Sloan
Regional Chief Counsel, Region V

By: Simone D. Pereira
Assistant Regional Counsel

L. PR 08-005 Status of Mountain Empire Baptist School as an Education Institution - Tennessee Number Holder - Carl Claimant - Christa

DATE: October 5, 2007

1. SYLLABUS

The Mountain Empire Baptist School provides elementary and secondary education as defined by Tennessee law and is, therefore, an educational institution for SSA purposes.

2. OPINION

QUESTION

You asked whether Mountain Empire Baptist School (MEBS) in Bristol, Tennessee, is an education institution that provides "elementary and secondary education" as defined by Tennessee law.

ANSWER

For the reasons stated below, MEBS is an educational institution that provides "elementary and secondary education" as defined by Tennessee law.

BACKGROUND

Christa (Claimant) currently receives child's insurance benefits as a minor on the earnings record of Carl her father and the number holder. Claimant will turn 18 years old on October XX, 2007. She currently attends classes at MEBS in Bristol, Tennessee. The State of Tennessee and Tennessee Department of Education do not classify MEBS as a public school. However, MEBS is member school of the Tennessee Association of Christian Schools. MEBS provides education from kindergarten to 12th grade. The students receive instruction in a traditional classroom setting and are required to attend school each week. Classes are held 5 days a week for 188 days a year.

DISCUSSION

The Social Security Act provides for benefits for children of individuals who are entitled to old-age or disability insurance benefits or who die with sufficient insured coverage. See Social Security Act (Act) § 202(d)(1), 42 U.S.C. § 402(d)(1); 20 C.F.R. § 404.350(a) (2007). To be eligible for child's benefits on the earnings record of an insured person who has died or who is entitled to old-age or disability benefits, a claimant 18 years or older who is not disabled must be a full-time elementary or secondary school student. See Act § 202(d)(1)(B); 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.350(a)(5), 404.367 (2007). An individual may be eligible as a full-time elementary or secondary student if she attends a school that provides elementary or secondary education as determined under the law of the State or other jurisdiction in which it is located. 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a). Claimant resides in Tennessee; therefore, we look to Tennessee law to determine if the school she attends, MEBS, qualifies as an educational institution.

Under Tennessee law, every parent, guardian, or other legal custodian residing within the state having control or charge of any child between 6 years of age and 17 years of age, shall cause such child to attend public or non-public school. See TENN. CODE ANN. § 49-6-3001(c)(1) (West 2007). Non-public schools include church-related schools, home schools, and private schools. See TENN. CODE ANN. § 49-6-3001(c)(3)(A). MEBS does not permit home schooling. Therefore, the question is whether MEBS qualifies as a church-related school or private school.

A "church-related school" is operated by a denominational, parochial or other bona fide church organization, which is required to meet the standards of accreditation or membership of the Tennessee Association of Christian Schools, the Association of Christian Schools International, the Tennessee Association of Independent Schools, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the Tennessee Association of Non-Public Academic Schools, the Tennessee Association of Church Related Schools, or a school affiliated with Accelerated Christian Education, Inc. See TENN. CODE ANN. § 49-50-801(a) (West 2007). Here, MEBS is member school of the Tennessee Association of Christian Schools. See Member Schools of TACS, http://tacs1.org/memberschools.phpst visited Oct. 3, 2007). Based on this status, MEBS would qualify as a church-related school as defined by Tennessee law. See TENN. CODE ANN. § 49-50-801(a) (West 2007). Tennessee would also classify MEBS as a Category IV school. Category IV schools are those schools which are "church related" and exempt from regulations according to TENN. CODE ANN. § 49-50-801. TENN. COMP. R. & REGS. 0520-7-2-.01(d) (2007).

However, the Tennessee Association of Christian Schools' is a Category II agency. See 2007-08 Data Form-Blank on Tennessee Department of Education, http://www.state.tn.us/education/support/approval/ st visited Oct. 3, 2007). As a Category II agency, their accreditation process is approved by the Tennessee Board of Education. See TENN. COMP. R. & REGS. 0520-7-2-.01(1)(b) (2007). Therefore, MEBS is a member school of an agency whose accreditation process is approved by the State Board of Education. Accordingly, Tennessee would classify MEBS as a Category II school. Category II schools are those which belong to an agency whose accreditation process is approved by the State Board of Education. TENN. COMP. R. & REGS. 0520-7-2-.01(1)(b) (2007). Based on this classification, MEBS would qualify as a private school, rather than a church-related school. See TENN. CODE ANN. § 49-6-3001(c)(3)(A)(iii); see also MEBS Details on State Department of Education Directory, http://www.k-12.state.tn.us/sde/DetailSchool.asp?bu_id=6537st visited Oct. 3, 2007). A "private school" is accredited by, or a member of, an organization or association approved by the Tennessee State Board of Education as an organization accrediting or setting academic requirements in schools . . . . See TENN. CODE ANN. § 49-6-3001(c)(3)(A)(iii) (West 2007).

CONCLUSION

As a private school, MEBS is an educational institution that provides "elementary and secondary education" as defined by Tennessee law.

Mary A. Sloan
Regional Chief Counsel, Region V

By: Simone D. Pereira
Assistant Regional Counsel


Footnotes:

[1]

. All references to 20 C.F.R. are to the 2017 version.

[2]

. All references to the Tennessee Code Annotated are to the 2017 edition.

[3]

. . . We note that the letterhead on this letter refers to the Asbury Optional High School Program, but it maintains the same address as provided for TVLA on the forms provided by Claimant and the principal. The address also matches the listed address for TVLA found on the state department of education website cited below.

[4]

. . . All references to the Code of Federal Regulations are to the 2017 edition.

[5]

. . . All references to the Tennessee Code Annotated are to the 2017 edition.

[6]

. . . All references to 20 C.F.R. are to the 2016 version.

[7]

. . . Tennessee’s homeschooling statute makes only one distinction between the two hybrids: parent/teachers in home schools associated with a CRS and who teach grades nine through twelve must have a high school diploma or GED, while parent/teachers in CRSs operating at home must only meet the standards of the CRS. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-6-3050(a)(2)(B), (b). HLA requires that parent/teachers have at least a high school diploma or GED, which satisfies the minimum education level requirement for home schools associated with a CRS. See http://www.homelifeacademy.com/enroll-now/hla-requirements/ (last visited Feb. 2, 2017). Therefore, even if HLA were a home school associated with a CRS instead of a CRS operating at home, that fact would not change this opinion.

[8]

. . . Tennessee regulations also require CRSs to meet certain non-residential building safety standards and comply with age requirements for students entering kindergarten and pre-kindergarten programs. See Tenn. Comp. R. & Regs. 0520-07-02-.05(2)(a)-(c), (f). These requirements are irrelevant because HLA education occurs in homes, and Claimant is not entering a kindergarten or pre-kindergarten program.

[9]

. . . For homeschooled students, “The home schooling instructor is the certifying school official for FTA purposes on Form SSA-1372, Student’s Statement Regarding School Attendance.” POMS RS 00205.275C. However, HLA sets minimum attendance requirements, requires attendance reporting twice per year, and states one of its primary goals is to provide recordkeeping support for homeschooling families. Accordingly, we find no reason that R~, HLA’s records administrator, could not certify Claimant’s responses on Form SSA-1372.

[10]

. . . Finally, Claimant does not take correspondence courses. Participation in correspondence courses does not satisfy the Federal FTA requirements. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b); POMS RS 00205.330B. The regulations and POMS do not appear to define “noncorrespondence course” or “correspondence course.” However, the POMS define “correspondence school” as “a school that teaches by mailing lessons and exercises to the student. Upon completion, the student returns the exercises to the school for grading.” POMS RS 00205.330A. HLA’s homeschooling program requires teachers to develop a curriculum, obtain course materials, and teach the materials to students. Accordingly, Claimant is not taking correspondence courses.

[11]

. . . In his October 18, 2016 letter, Dr. J~ “clarified” Claimant’s graduation date by stating that his “graduation date will be May, 2016.” However, this appears to be a typographical error, given that: (1) Dr. J~’s statement that Claimant’s graduation “will be May, 2016” is in the future tense, yet the letter is dated October 18, 2016, making the stated graduation date in the past; and (2) if Claimant had actually graduated in May 2016, it would substantially contradict his and Dr. J~’s relevant statements and render Claimant’s application for continuation of CIB pointless.

[12]

. . . All references to 20 C.F.R. are to the 2016 version.

[13]

. . . A claimant may also qualify as a full-time student through participation in a home school or independent study program. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a)(1), (2); POMS RS 00205.275; POMS RS 00205.285. However, on Form SSA-1372, Claimant indicated TOPS is an online high school, not a home school, and on the frequently asked questions (FAQ) page of its website, TOPS explicitly states that it is a public school, not a homeschool program. See TOPS, Frequently Asked Questions, http://tops.education/faq (last visited Nov. 8, 2016). In any event, because we conclude Claimant’s attendance at TOPS qualifies as full-time attendance at an educational institution under Tennessee law, we need not address whether TOPS qualifies as a home school or independent study program.

[14]

. . . Dep’t of Ed., http://www.tn.gov/education/districtmap/index.shtml (visited March 14, 2013) (see link to Public School Directory); SDE directory: List of Active Schools, http://www.k-12.state.tn.us/sde/CreateSchoolList.asp?sort1=Name&sort2=&sort3=&district_bu_id=NULL®ion_bu_id=NULL&status=A&sql_id=NULL&page=3&schtype=000,003 (visited March 14, 2013).

[15]

. . . See Knox County Schools, School/ Program Contact Information, http://knoxschools.org/modules/cms/pages.phtml?sessionid=2fd135c232c47d7fabdc5f3d80442c09&pageid=56397&sessionid=2fd135c232c47d7fabdc5f3d80442c09 (visited March 15, 2013).

[16]

. . . See K~ Volunteer Academy, Knox County Schools, About the Dr. Paul L. Kelley Volunteer Academy, http://K~volunteerac.knoxschools.org/modules/cms/pages.phtml?pageid=200640&sessionid=9a8721216c6511048f0e0a196350a96e&sessionid=9a8721216c6511048f0e0a196350a96e (visited March 15, 2013).

[17]

. . . See id.

[18]

. . . See id.

[19]

. . . See id.

[20]

. . . See Knox County Schools, KCS Calendar for 2012-2013, http://knoxschools.org/modules/cms/pages.phtml?pageid=218810&sessionid=2fd135c232c47d7fabdc5f3d80442c09&sessionid=2fd135c232c47d7fabdc5f3d80442c09 http://K~volunteerac.knoxschools.org/modules/calendar/showCalendarMonth.phtml?oc_id[]=14139&year=2012&month=08&day=01&sessionid=9a8721216c6511048f0e0a196350a96e (March 15, 2013); K~ Volunteer Academy, Knox County Schools, K~ Volunteer Academy, (March 15, 2013).

[21]

. . . See K~ Volunteer Academy, Knox County Schools, About the Dr. Paul Kelley Volunteer Academy, http://K~volunteerac.knoxschools.org/modules/cms/pages.phtml?pageid=200640&sessionid=9a8721216c6511048f0e0a196350a96e&sessionid=9a8721216c6511048f0e0a196350a96e (visited March 15, 2013).

[22]

. . . See K~ Volunteer Academy, Knox County Schools, Why Choose Dr. Paul Kelley Volunteer Academy for your education?, http://K~volunteerac.knoxschools.org/modules/cms/pages.phtml?pageid=202040&sessionid=9a8721216c6511048f0e0a196350a96e&sessionid=9a8721216c6511048f0e0a196350a96e (visited March 15, 2013).

[23]

. . . All references to 20 C.F.R. are to the 2012 version unless otherwise noted.

[24]

. . . See K~ Volunteer Academy, Knox County Schools, http://K~volunteerac.knoxschools.org/modules/cms/pages.phtml?pageid=201972&sessionid=9a8721216c6511048f0e0a196350a96e&sessionid=9a8721216c6511048f0e0a196350a96e (visited March 22, 2013).

[25]

. . . All references to the Tenn. Code Ann. are to the West 2013 version unless otherwise noted.

[26]

. . . See Dep’t of Ed., http://www.tn.gov/education/districtmap/index.shtml (visited March 14, 2013) (see link to Public School Directory); SDE directory: List of Active Schools, http://www.k-12.state.tn.us/sde/CreateSchoolList.asp?sort1=Name&sort2=&sort3=&district_bu_id=NULL®ion_bu_id=NULL&status=A&sql_id=NULL&page=3&schtype=000,003 (visited March 14, 2013).

[27]

. . . Although the principal did not answer the question of whether KVA’s course of study lasts at least thirteen weeks, KVA’s website indicates the school’s course of study lasts at least 13 weeks. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b). See K~ Volunteer Academy, Knox County Schools, K~ Volunteer Academy, http://K~volunteerac.knoxschools.org/modules/calendar/showCalendarMonth.phtml?oc_id[]=14139&year2012&month=08&day=01&sessionid=9a8721216c6511048f0e0a196350a96e (visited March 15, 2013); see also Knox County Schools, KCS Calendar for 2012-2013, http://knoxschools.org/modules/cms/pages.phtml?pageid=218810&sessionid=2fd135c232c47d7fabdc5f3d80442c09&sessionid=2fd135c232c47d7fabdc5f3d80442c09 (visited March 15, 2013). KVA’s website also indicates its courses are noncorrespondence courses. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b). KVA’s website indicates students must attend sessions at a facility where instruction is both direct and computer based. K~ Volunteer Academy, Knox County Schools, Why Choose Dr. Paul L. Kelley Volunteer Academy for your education?, http://K~volunteerac.knoxschools.org/modules/cms/pages.phtml?pageid=202040&sessionid=9a8721216c6511048f0e0a196350a96e&sessionid=9a8721216c6511048f0e0a196350a96e (visited March 15, 2013).

[28]

. . . In addition, even if Beneficiary can establish full-time attendance at KVA, he would still need to show he is not married to be entitled to CIB. See Act § 202(d)(1)(B); 20 C.F.R. § 404.350(a)(4). Beneficiary did not indicate his marital status on his Student’s Statement Regarding School Attendance.


To Link to this section - Use this URL:
http://policy.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/1507905047
PR 07905.047 - Tennessee - 03/23/2018
Batch run: 03/23/2018
Rev:03/23/2018