Whether Jamal’s attendance at the Nevada Virtual Academy meets agency standards for
full time attendance required for Auxiliary Child Benefits after age 18.
Yes. The Nevada Virtual Academy qualifies as educational institution under federal
law, and its internet-based (online) program provides an acceptable form of approved
distance study under Nevada law.
Jamal, a recipient of child’s insurance benefits under Title II of the Social Security
Act, attends classes at Nevada Virtual Academy, an internet-based charter school in
Nevada. He has been attending Nevada Virtual since August 2009. The Nevada Department
of Education identifies Nevada Virtual as a Nevada public charter school. On Form SSA-1372-BK, Jamal reported attending online classes at Nevada Virtual approximately
30 hours per week. He expected to graduate in June 2013. A registrar and records manager
from Nevada Virtual, Kirby, certified under penalty of perjury that Jamal correctly
reported his school attendance, and that his program would last at least 13 weeks.
In response to SSA questions, Kirby stated that the Nevada Virtual offered a full
high school curriculum. He stated that the program required at least 30 hours of attendance
per week, tracked time its students spend online, and kept attendance logs, which
it submitted to the state. Kirby described class sessions as “online classrooms administered
by the student’s teacher. Instruction is given by the teachers and students are able
[to] participate throughout the class interacting with other students and teachers.”
He also stated that students were able to contact teachers via telephone, electronic
communications, and personally “through frequent activities held by the school.” Last,
Kirby stated that Nevada Virtual was accredited by the Northwest Accreditation Commission
(NAC). He submitted a Provisional Accreditation Certificate for 2010-2011 from the
To be eligible for child’s insurance benefits between the ages of 18 and 19, the child
must be in full-time attendance (FTA) at an educational institution (EI) that provides
elementary or secondary courses. Social Security Act § 202(d)(1)(B), 42 U.S.C. § 402(d)(1)(B);
20 C.F.R. § 404.367; Program Operations Manual System (POMS) RS 00205.001(A). A student will be considered enrolled in an EI if he or she participates in an
independent study program acceptable under the state’s educational statutes. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a)(2); POMS RS 00205.250(B)(5); RS 00205.285(C)(2). With limited exceptions, FTA is defined as 20 hours per week. 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(c).
For an independent study school, “the number of hours spent in school attendance are
determined by combining the number of hours of attendance at a school facility with
the agreed upon number of hours spent in independent study.” Id.
Nevada educational statutes recognize online instruction as an acceptable form of
secondary education. See Nev. Rev. Stat. § 388.826 (defining “distance education” as instruction delivered
by computer or internet). Nev. Rev. Stat. § 388.866 provides the requirements of a
distance education program, charging the governing body of a charter school to ensure
that for each course offered through the program, a teacher: provides the necessary
work assignments to each enrolled pupil; meets or otherwise communicates with the
pupil at least once a week; and enters into a written agreement with the pupil and
parent or legal guardian outlining objectives, timeline and grading criteria for the
course. Id. A copy of such a written agreement, signed by Jamal and his parent Jimell , was submitted
with the application.
State law further requires recordation of full attendance for each week that a teacher
meets or otherwise communicates with a distance education pupil during the course
to discuss progress, and that such communications must be included in the master register
of enrollment and attendance. Nev. Admin. Code. § 387.193(2).
The Nevada Department of Education approved Nevada Virtual as a Nevada public charter
school. Nevada Virtual is therefore an approved public school that offers its instruction
online. Accordingly, it qualifies as an acceptable independent study program under
the regulations and POMS RS 00205.285.
Although Jamal does not attend classes in a classroom, FTA requirements are satisfied
when the student spends the requisite number of hours in independent study. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(c). Based on the information provided on Form SSA1372 BK, Jamal
appears to have satisfied agency requirements for FTA.  See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(c); POMS RS 00205.300; see also RS 00205.735(A) (explaining student’s responsibility to submit a completed Form SSA-1372-BK
or its equivalent). In fact, both Jamal and Kirby have certified that Jamal “attended”
the on-line school 30 hours per week for the entire school year. See POMS RS 00205.300(B) (“Consider the State requirements met if the school considers
the student to be full-time based on the school’s standards and practices for day
Nevada Virtual Academy, recognized by the state as a public charter school, qualifies
as an educational institution under 20 C.F.R. § 404.367 and POMS RS 00205.285. Assuming
Jamal attended Nevada Virtual according to his intended 30 hours per week, he met
the requirements for full-time attendance at a qualified independent study program.