You asked whether J~ is eligible for student benefits as a home school student at
the age of 18 or older. In order to answer this question, we first considered whether
home schooling is an educational institution.
For the reasons discussed below, we conclude that home schooling in Minnesota is not
an educational institution above age 17, because home schools are not defined as a
school as to this age group and there are no home schooling requirements or regulations
in state law.
The claimant, J~, is seeking child’s insurance benefits (CIB), due to his reported
status as a full-time student in home school. His date of birth is October XX, 1997
and he turned 18 years old on October XX, 2015. The agency uses Form SSA-1372-BK as
the primary means for determining whether a child is a full-time student at a qualifying
educational institution. POMS RS 00205.735. The claimant submitted Form SSA-1372-BK on July XX, 2016, indicating that he attended
home school from September 2015 until May 27, 2016 on a full-time basis (25-30 hours
per week). Subsequently, he attended Lake Superior College, a technical school, from
August 23, 2016, with an anticipated end of the school year in May 2017. J2~, J~’s
mother, certified Form SSA-1372-BK. J2~ indicated that the information the claimant
provided on the form was correct, and that the home school’s course of study was at
least 13 weeks in duration.
To qualify for student benefits, a claimant must be at least 18 years old, but under
age 19, unmarried, and a full-time elementary or secondary school student at a qualifying
educational institution. See 42 U.S.C. § 402(d); 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.350(a)(5), 404.367. If a student attains age
19 in a month while in full-time attendance and has not completed the requirements
for, or has not received, a diploma or equivalent certificate from a secondary school,
the student is deemed not to have attained age 19. POMS RS 00205.325B. The date the student’s entitlement ends depends on whether the school operates on
a yearly basis or on a quarterly or semester basis requiring reenrollment. For schools
that operate on a yearly basis, student benefits end the earlier of (1) The first
day of the third month following the month in which the student attains age 19; or,
(2) The first day of the month after the month the student completes the school year
in which is in full-time attendance. POMS RS 00205.325C. Under the POMS, the maximum entitlement period for a student whose school operates
on a yearly basis ends at age 19 and 2 months. POMS RS 00205.325C.
In order to qualify as an educational institution for the purposes of awarding student
benefits, the school must provide an education “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 POMS RS 00205.200A. Public schools in the United States are assumed to be educational institutions, absent
evidence to the contrary, while non-public schools are not assumed to be educational
institutions. POMS RS 00205.250B. In order to be eligible for student benefits as a home-schooled student, an individual
must be “instructed in elementary or secondary education at home in accordance with
a home school law of the State” in which the individual resides. 20 C.F.R. § 404.367.
POMS specifies that a home school student can receive benefits if “the law of the
State in which the home school is located recognizes home school as an educational
institution” and “the home school the student attends meets the requirements of the
State law where he or she resides.” POMS RS 00205.275B.
A claimant must also be a full-time elementary or secondary school student in order
to qualify for student benefits. The Act defines “full-time elementary or secondary
school student” as an individual who is in full-time attendance at an elementary or
secondary school. Section 202(d)(7)(a) of the Act; see also 20 C.F.R. § 404.367. To satisfy the “full-time attendance” requirement, a home school
student must meet federal standards. POMS RS 00205.275B. To meet the federal standards, the claimant must be enrolled in a non-correspondence
course of at least 13 weeks’ duration and be scheduled for attendance at the rate
of at least 20 hours per week (with certain exceptions). 20 C.F.R. § 404.367b, (c);
POMS RS 00205.300C. The claimant satisfied this requirement because he attended home school for at least
20 hours per week during a non-correspondence course of more than 13 weeks, as he
indicated and as his mother certified on Form SSA-1372-BK.
Because the claimant resides in Minnesota, it is also necessary to examine whether
Minnesota law recognizes home schools as an educational institution. In Minnesota,
all children between the ages of seven and seventeen years of age must receive instruction.
Minn. Stat. Ann. § 120A.22(5). Minnesota defines home schools only within the context
of compulsory attendance. “For the purposes of compulsory attendance, a ‘school’ means a public school . . . or a nonpublic school, church or religious organization,
or a home school in which a child is provided instruction in compliance with [Minn. Stat. Ann.
§§] 120A.22 and 120A.24.” See Minn. Stat. Ann. § 120A.22(4) (emphasis added). Minn. Stat. Ann. §§ 120A.22 and 120A.24
apply only within the context of compulsory attendance up to age 17. No other definition
of “school” exists in the Minnesota statutes that applies to home schools. Moreover,
Minnesota law does not recognize any other purpose for home schools, apart from providing
compulsory education. As a result, Minnesota law does not recognize home schools as
an educational institution providing elementary or secondary education after age 17.
See POMS RS 00205.200.
The lack of any state law requirements for home schooling after age 17 further confirms
that home schools are not an educational institution after that age. Minnesota law
has requirements for curriculum, instructors, annual assessments and reporting which
affect home schools. These requirements are outlined in Minn. Stat. Ann. §§ 120A.22(9),
(10), (11) and 120A.24(1)(a), (b). However, these requirements only apply to a child
who is required to receive instruction (between ages seven and seventeen) and to instruction
that is intended to fulfill that requirement. Minn. Stat. Ann. § 120A.22(2). Nor do
any requirements in the administrative code apply to home schools after age 17. Minnesota
law does not prescribe any graduation requirements for home school students In contrast
to home schools, Minnesota provides educational expectations and graduation requirements
for public school students older than 17, and indeed expressly permits the admission
of children up to age 21 to an adult high school diploma program. E.g., Minn. Stat. Ann. §§ 120B.02(2); 120B.024. Home schools thus do not provide an education
“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).
We are also persuaded by the regulatory history of 20 C.F.R. § 404.367. In 1996, the
Agency expanded student benefits to children enrolled in home schooling or independent
study programs authorized by State (or other jurisdiction) laws. 61 Fed. Reg. 38361-01,
38362, 1996 WL 409869 (July 24, 1996). “Many States or other jurisdictions have laws
recognizing home schooling. Home schooling is an educational program in which the
student is generally taught within the home by a parent/teacher.” 61 Fed. Reg. 38361.
The regulation assumes that “The state or other jurisdiction specifies the requirements
that must be met and the procedures that must be followed in these situations.” 61
Fed. Reg. 38361, 38362. Further, “[t]he child’s home schooling teacher must submit
evidence that legal requirements for home schooling are met.” Id. Such requirements can include a certificate of intent, documentation of state-mandated
tests, a list of courses being taught, and a copy of the attendance log or chart. Id. In Minnesota, home schools do not have any requirements that must be met after age
17, including those mentioned in the Federal Register. Accordingly, Minnesota does
not recognize home schooling after age 17 as providing an elementary or secondary
education at home in accordance with a home school law of the State.” See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367.
We note that this opinion conflicts with previous Legal Precedential Opinions at POMS
PR 08005.026 and PS 08005.026. These older Legal Precedential Opinions regarding home schooling in Minnesota, however,
were issued under now-obsolete statutes. For example, in 2012, Minnesota clarified
that annual achievement testing for children not enrolled in public school applied
only to children between ages seven and sixteen. 2012 Minn. Session Laws, Ch. 239,
Art. 1, s.2. Thus, we believe that POMS PR 08005.026 and PS 08005.026 should no longer be followed and should be removed from the precedential file.
Based on the foregoing, for students older than age 17, we conclude that home schools
in Minnesota are not educational institutions, because they are not recognized as
schools apart from the compulsory education ages and because there are no regulatory
requirements that apply to them. Accordingly, we find that J~ is not eligible for
Child Insurance Benefits.