Issues Library—Federal Education Policy
Social Security Benefits
As the homeschooling movement grows, an increasing number of families are running into difficulty receiving benefits for their homeschooled children from the Social Security Administration (SSA). The Social Security Administration pays out “student benefits” to full-time students who have a deceased parent or a parent who is receiving disability income. Normally, these benefits end when a child turns 18, but a student who is still in high school can collect benefits even after his or her 18th birthday. While it is easy to collect these student benefits for children in traditional schools, homeschoolers have had more challenges. The Social Security Administration is homeschool-friendly at the national level, but problems arise because local offices are often unaware that homeschoolers are eligible for benefits.
Actions to Take
There are steps our members can take to help avoid receiving that initial rejection letter.
While HSLDA takes a neutral position on Social Security benefits, we realize that many of our members are assisted by such payments. Homeschooling your children has enough challenges without having to navigate the bureaucracy of the SSA. However, if your child is receiving survivor’s benefits, or if you are receiving disability benefits for your child, you may find yourself doing just that.
Once your child turns 18, survivor’s benefits and some disability benefits are terminated unless the child is a full-time student. If your child is receiving such benefits, you will be notified by letter approximately two months before his or her 18th birthday that the benefits are about to cease unless student status is granted. For students enrolled in a public or private school, such status is usually not difficult to demonstrate. For homeschooled children, however, the process can be a little trickier.
The single best step you can take to convince the Social Security office that your homeschooled child is still enrolled in school is to continue to file any required notice of intent to homeschool with your state beyond the compulsory attendance age (if you live in a state that requires filing). Once the SSA sees a family’s record of compliance with the state homeschool law, the administration usually continues the benefits. If you do not live in a state that requires filing, keep good records, especially attendance records. If you are a member and need assistance preparing the paperwork, please call HSLDA.