This is in response to your request for an opinion concerning whether, for the purposes
of student benefits, the home-schooling of Martian N. H~ (Martian) qualifies as full-time
secondary school attendance (FTA) under federal and Maryland law.
We have reviewed the information that you provided, contacted the Maryland State Department
of Education and Home School International (HSI), and researched the relevant provisions
of federal and Maryland law regarding home-schooling and full-time attendance. It
is our opinion that Martian's home-school program does not satisfy the federal standards
for full-time attendance or the requirements of Maryland's home-school law.
The record indicates that Martian was born on October 12, 1987, and began receiving
child=s benefits on the account of the deceased wage earner, James V. H~, in April
of 2002. Martian reached her 18th birthday on October 12, 2005. Her benefits were
terminated in October 2005 because she had attained the age of 18 and was not a full-time
student in a secondary school. Martian resides in Prince George's County, Maryland.
Martian completed a Student Statement Regarding School Attendance (SSA-1372) form
on September 12, 2005. Martian indicated in item one of the SSA-1372 form that she
was scheduled to attend, for twenty-five hours a week, a home-school program administered
by Home School International (HSI) that began on September 12, 2005, and ended in
June of 2006. She further noted that she expected to graduate from HSI in June 2006.
In item two of this form, Martian noted that she attended HSI for twenty-five hours
a week from September 2004 to July 2005. The SSA-1372 form also contained a section
entitled "Certification By School Official," which was signed by Alayne T~, Ph.D.,
Vice-President of Education for HSI.
Dr. T~ did not check the boxes contained in this section which verified that items
one and two completed by Martian were correct and that the school's course of study
was at least thirteen weeks in duration.
The Agency contacted Dr. T~ for clarification of the items she failed to verify on
the SSA-1372 form. Dr. T~ resubmitted the SSA-1372 form and verified that items one
and two completed by Martian were correct and that the school's course of study was
at least thirteen weeks in duration. Dr. T~ also submitted a signed statement, dated
November 14, 2006, in response to additional information requested by the Agency.
In her statement, Dr. T~ stated that: HSI (currently called Griggs International Academy)
was a distance education school, approved by the state of Maryland and accredited
by the Accrediting Commission of the Distance Education and Training Council; students
study using course materials developed by experienced and certified teachers and delivered
by correspondence or online; courses were designed to comply with a traditional school
year of fifteen weeks per semester, with two semesters representing a full school
year; students studying with HSI at the high school level are considered full time
if they enroll(or intend to enroll) in at least five units of credit per school year;
HSI offers high school courses that may lead to a high school diploma, issued by HSI
and recognized by the state; and that Martian was not a full-time student after June
2006 because she discontinued her studies with HSI.
We contacted Dr. T~ and clarified that online delivery of educational instruction
by HSI was by way of correspondence, not live lecturing.
We also contacted the Maryland State Department of Education and confirmed in correspondence
dated January 18, 2007, that HSI was approved by the Maryland State Board of Education
to offer instruction "solely" through correspondence courses for kindergarten through
Entitlement to child’s benefits ends in the month before the month in which a child
reaches the age of 18 years, unless the child is disabled or is a full-time student.
If, at age 18, a non-disabled recipient of child’s benefits qualifies as a full-time
student, her entitlement ends with the last month that she is a full-time student
or, if earlier, in the month before her 19th birthday. 20 C.F.R. '' 404.350(a)(5),
404.352 (b)(1), 404.367 (2006); Program Operations Manual System (POMS) RS 00205.001(A).
To qualify as a full-time, home-schooled, student, an individual who has attained
age 18 must (1) meet federal standards for full-time school attendance; (2) attend
home-schooling in a state that recognizes home-schooling as a legitimate educational
institution; (3) attend an elementary or secondary program of home-schooling that
meets the requirements of the law of the state in which the home-school is located;
and (4) meet all other requirements for benefits. 20 C.F.R.' 404.367; POMS RS 00205.275(B).
The first requirement in issue is whether Martian meets federal standards for full-time
school attendance. To meet the federal standards for full-time attendance a student
must: (1) be scheduled for attendance at a rate of at least twenty hours per week;
(2) enrolled in a course that is not a correspondence course; (3) enrolled in a course
of study that is of at least thirteen weeks duration. 20 C.F.R. ' 404.367(b)-(c);
POMS RS 00205.300(C).
The SSA-1372 form which Martian completed on September 12, 2005, and Dr. T~ verified,
indicated that Martian's school year began on September 12, 2005, and was expected
to end in June 2006. The SSA-1372 form also showed that Martian was scheduled to attend
HSI for twenty-five hours per week. Therefore, Martian met the FTA criteria of being
enrolled in a course of study lasting at least thirteen weeks in duration, for at
least twenty hours per week.
Martian does not however meet the last criteria required for FTA in that the record
indicates that she was enrolled in a home-school correspondence course. Documentation
provided by the Maryland State Department of Education specifically states that HSI
is approved by the Maryland State Board of Education to provide educational instruction
for kindergarten through grade 12 "solely" through correspondence courses. Dr. T~,
Vice-President of Education for HSI, also verified in answers provided to the Agency
that educational instruction was provided to HSI students by correspondence or online.
Dr. T~ did clarify by way of telephone that online delivery of educational instruction
by HSI was by way of correspondence only, not live lecturing.
Consistent with this evidence, the record does not contain any evidence indicating
that textbooks or personalized instruction were utilized as teaching tools by Martian's
mother in Martian's home-school program. Hence, we believe that this information is
sufficient to warrant a conclusion that Martian was enrolled in a correspondence home-school
course and does not meets all of the federal full-time attendance requirements. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(b)-(c); POMS RS 00205.300(C). Because Martian does not meet all of the criteria for FTA, she has not satisfied
the first criteria under the POMS RS 00205.275.
Additionally, although Martian meets the second criteria, she does not meet the third
criteria under POMS RS 00205.275. With respect to the third criteria under the POMS RS 00205.275, Maryland's home-school education statute requires: (1) a written agreement, from
the parent or guardian who chooses to teach the child, indicating consent to the home-school
regulations; (2) submission of the written agreement to the local superintendent at
least fifteen days before the beginning of a home instruction program; (3) annual
verification regarding continuation of home-schooling; (4) evidence that the home-school
instructional program is being provided on a regular basis in the areas of English,
mathematics, science, social studies, art, music, health, and physical education;
(5) and evidence by way of an educational portfolio that regular, thorough instruction
during the school year in the specified areas, is being provided. COMAR 13A.10.01.01
(Maryland's home-school education statute). The record does not contain any evidence
of compliance with Maryland's home-school statute.
In light of the evidence of record, we believe that the home-schooling of Martian
does not qualify as full-time secondary school attendance(FTA)under federal and Maryland's
home-school law. Accordingly, Martian would not be eligible to receive student benefits.
For the reasons stated above, it is our opinion that Martian's home-school program
does not satisfy the requirements of Maryland's home-school law and the federal standards
for full-time attendance. Therefore, Martian would not be entitled to student benefits
from October 12, 2005 through June 2006.
Regional Chief Counsel
Assistant Regional Counsel