TN 14 (06-15)

PS 08005.002 Alaska

DATE: May 7, 2015

PS 15-121 Child’s Insurance Benefits for a Homeschooled Student in Alaska

1. SYLLABUS

Alaska recognizes a child’s education by a parent or legal guardian in the child’s home. To establish that a child in Alaska is a home-schooled student, obtain a statement that the State of Alaska does not fund the home school and a statement that the parent or legal guardian is educating the student in the home. The student must be in grades 7 through 12 and receive instruction for at least 12 hours per week.

2. OPINION

QUESTIONS PRESENTED

Whether an eighteen-year old homeschooled student in Alaska qualified for child’s benefits under section 202(d) of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 402(d).

What evidence is generally required to establish qualification for child’s benefits for Alaskan homeschooled students?

BRIEF ANSWER

Because the student was in full time attendance at a secondary school recognized under Alaska state law, she was eligible for child’s benefits under section 202(d) of the Act during her eighteenth year.

The evidence required to establish qualification for child’s benefits for Alaskan homeschooled students includes (i) a statement that the school is not funded by the State of Alaska, (ii) a statement that the student is being educated in the home by a parent or legal guardian, and (iii) a completed Form SSA-1372 certifying that the number of hours attended satisfy the Federal Standards for full-time attendance.

SUMMARY OF FACTS

K~, who lives in Nikiski, Alaska, reached age 18 in February 2014. She provided an SSA 1372, dated in April 2014, indicating that she was in full-time attendance at Broussard Awaka Way Academy Homeschool. A June 2014 report of contact from the Anchorage district office indicates that the student’s homeschooling was independent of the state of Alaska. The curriculum was determined by the student’s mother and purchased through Christian Liberty Academy. Pursuant to the report of contact, the student attended class five days a week, from 8:30 am until 3:30 pm, with a one-hour lunch break. The SSA 1372 indicates that the student attended class 25-30 hours a week between September and May. The student did not attend school during the summer months of June, July, and August.

APPLICABLE LAW AND ANALYSIS

A.  Entitlement to Child’s Benefits During the Eighteenth Year

The Social Security Act (the Act) provides for child’s insurance benefits if certain requirements are met. 42 U.S.C. § 402(d). Under the Act, child’s insurance benefits usually terminate when the child attains age 18. See 42 U.S.C. § 402(d)(6) & (7). Entitlement to child’s benefits may continue, however, if the child “was a full-time elementary or secondary student and had not attained the age of 19.” See 42 U.S.C. § 402(d)(1). A full-time elementary or secondary student is an individual who is in full-time attendance as a student at an elementary or secondary school, as determined by the Commissioner in light of the standards and practices of the schools involved. 42 U.S.C. § 402(d)(7)(A). Thus, whether the student can qualify for child’s benefits during her eighteenth year depends upon whether she attended an elementary or secondary school full-time during that year.

1. Elementary or Secondary School

An elementary or secondary school is “a school which provides elementary or secondary education, respectively, as determined under the law of the State or other jurisdiction in which it is located.” 42 U.S.C. § 402(d)(7)(C)(i). See also 42 C.F.R. § 404.367(a); Program Operations Manual System (POMS) RS 00205.200 (defining “educational institution” as “a school that provides elementary or secondary education (grade 12 or below) as determined under the law of the State or other jurisdiction in which it is located”). To provide proof of homeschooling, the POMS requires the instructor to submit evidence that state requirements for homeschooling are met. POMS 00205.275.

Here, the homeschool operated in Alaska. Accordingly, its qualification as a secondary school is dependent upon the laws of the state of Alaska. To establish proof of homeschooling, the instructor must provide evidence that any Alaskan requirements for homeschooling are met.

In Alaska, school attendance is compulsory between the ages of seven and sixteen. Alaska Statutes (AS) 14.30.010(a). However, compulsory attendance is not required if a child “is being educated in the child’s home by a parent or legal guardian.” AS 14.30.010(b)(12). Homeschooling in Alaska is a completely de-regulated educational option.1 Parents are not required to register with the state or their local school district, and homeschools not funded with public dollars are not subject to testing or any other requirements.2

Here, consistent with Alaska law, the student attended a homeschool taught by her mother. It does not appear the homeschool was funded with public dollars: the report of contact form indicates that the school was independ