You have asked for an opinion on the specific requirements for home schooling in Montana
and Utah for purposes of determining eligibility for student benefits.
In order to be eligible for student benefits, an individual must meet certain eligibility
requirements: he/she must 1) meet the requirements for child's benefits (insured's
child, dependent on insured, apply, umarried); 2) have attained the age of 18; and
3) be a full-time elementary or secondary school student who has not attained (or
has not been deemed to have attained) age 19. See Program Operations Manual System (POMS) § RS 00205.100A.; see also U.S.C. § 402(d)(1)(B), (d)(7)(C)(i); 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.350(a)(5), 404.367 (2002).
A child is a Afull-time elementary or secondary school student if [the child] . .
. [is] instructed in an elementary or secondary education at home in accordance with
a home school law of the State or jurisdiction in which [the child] reside[s].@ 20
C.F.R. § 404.367(a)(1) (2002).
Social Security Policy states that
[s]tudent benefits are payable if . . . the student meets the Federal standards for
full-time attendance; . . . the law of the State in which the home school is located
recognizes [the] home school as an educational institution; . . . the home school
the student attends meets the requirements of State law in which the home school is
located; and . . . the student meets all the other requirements of benefits.
POMS § RS 00205.275B. “The child's home school instructor must submit evidence that State requirements for
home schooling are met.” Id. § RS 00205.275C.
A student is in [full-time attendance] if he/she is attending an elementary or secondary
level school . . . and is meeting both the State and Federal standards for full time
attendance. . . . . To meet Federal standards, the student must be . . . [s]cheduled
for attendance at the rate of at least 20 hours per week, enrolled in a course that
is not a correspondence course, and enrolled in a course of study that is of at least
13 weeks duration.
POMS § RS 00205.300A. & RS 00205.300C.
Montana has a compulsory attendance law that requires children, who have attained
7 years of age on the first day of the school year, to attend public school until
the later of the time the child attains 16 years of age or has completed the eighth
grade, unless, among other things, the child is “enrolled in a . . . home school that complies with the provisions of [MONT. CODE ANN.]
§ 20-5-109.” MONT CODE § 20-5-102 (2001).
MONT. CODE ANN § 20-5-109 states that
[t]o qualify its students for exemption from compulsory enrollment under 20-5-102,
a nonpublic or home school shall:
maintain records on pupil attendance and disease immunization and make the records
available to the county superintendent of schools on request;
provide at least 180 days of pupil instruction or the equivalent in accordance with
20-1-301 and 20-1-302;
be housed in a building that complies with applicable local health and safety regulations;
provide an organized course of study that includes instruction in the subjects required
of public schools as a basic instructional program pursuant to 20-7-111; and
in the case of home schools, notify the county superintendent of schools, of the county
in which the home school is located, in each school fiscal year of the student's attendance
at the school.
As to subparagraph 4 above, the 2001 edition of the Montana School Accreditation Standards
and Procedures Manual (MSASPM) § 10.55.904 provides “[t]he basic education program . . . for grades 9 through 12 shall be at least 20 units
of course work that enable all students to meet the content and performance standards.” MSASPM § 10.55.904(1) (2001), www.opi.state.mt.us/. “Minimum offerings shall include at least . . . 4 units of English language arts; .
. . 3 units of mathematics; . . . 3 units of science; . . . 3 units of social studies;
. . . 2 units of vocational/practical arts; . . . 2 units of fine arts; . . . 1 unit
of health enhancement; . . . 2 units of world language; and . . . 2 units of electives.” Id. § 10.55.904(2).
Yellowstone County appears to handle home schooling in a manner consistent with Montana
To properly determine if an individual who lives in Montana and is attending a home
school is eligible for student benefits, we advise you to independently determine,
whether the child is being instructed in a home schooling program that is in accordance
with Federal full-time attendance standards and Montana's home school law as set forth
above (information on the latter should be submitted by the child's home school instructor.
See POMS § RS 00205.275C.). See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a)(1) (2002); POMS §§ RS 00205.275B., RS 00205.300A. & RS
Mary A. S~
Regional Chief Counsel
Michele M. K~
Assistant Regional Counsel