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 independent of the state of Alaska. Accordingly, under the Act and the laws of Alaska, the student attended a secondary school.

 2.  Full Time Attendance

A student is in full-time attendance if she is attending an elementary or secondary level school and meets both State and Federal standards for full-time attendance. POMS RS 00205.300. Alaska does not have hourly attendance requirements for homeschooled students. To meet the Federal Standards for full-time attendance, a student must be scheduled for attendance at least 20 hours a week, be enrolled in a course that is not a correspondence course,3 and be enrolled in a course of study that is of at least 13 weeks’ duration. POMS RS 00205.300.

During her eighteenth year, the student was in school 25-30 hours a week, was not enrolled in a correspondence course, and her course of study lasted more than 13 weeks. Accordingly, under the Act, the Federal standards, and the laws of Alaska, the student was in full-time attendance.

CONCLUSION

It is our opinion that during her eighteenth year, the student qualified for child’s benefits under section 202(d) of the Social Security Act (the Act), 42 U.S.C. § 402(d), because she was in full time attendance at a secondary school.4

Because homeschooling in Alaska is completely de-regulated, the only evidence necessary to establish qualification for child’s benefits as a homeschooled student is (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.


Footnotes:

[1]

In 1997, the state legislature passed Senate Bill 134, adding homeschooling as an educational option without any notification or assessment requirements. 1997 Alaska Laws Ch. 68 (S.B. 134); AS 14.30.010(b)(12).

[2]

See https://www.eed.state.ak.us/faq.html#A13 (last visited April 24, 2015).

[3]

A correspondence course is 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.

[4]

Once the student turned nineteen in February 2015, she no longer qualified for child’s benefits based on being a student.


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http://policy.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/1608005002
PS 08005.002 - Alaska - 06/05/2015
Batch run: 06/05/2015
Rev:06/05/2015