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April 9, 2012

Breaking New Ground in Social Security Benefits

Staff Attorney Darren Jones has helped restore Social Security and veterans’ benefits to many homeschool families. He and his wife currently homeschool.

After the Social Security Administration denied Anastasia Dahler’s (name changed to protect privacy) benefits because of a misunderstanding, HSLDA appealed and won her case.

As a full-time student over 18 years old, Ohio homeschooler Anastasia should receive Social Security benefits until her graduation from high school in June 2012, due to her father’s retirement payments. But in December 2011, the Social Security Administration stopped Anastasia’s payments because they claimed she was not a full-time student. In fact, Anastasia excels in her senior courses and is dual-enrolled in several classes at a local college. The Social Security Administration was unfamiliar with Ohio homeschool law and discriminated against her as a homeschool student.

Social Security’s guidelines for recognizing Ohio homeschool students are based on the most common homeschool option—the annual notification letter. But the Dahler family homeschools as a private school, commonly known as an 08 school. Ohio 08 schools operate under different regulations from the basic homeschool option. For Anastasia to receive her benefits, HSLDA needed to explain the difference in Ohio law to the Social Security Administration.

HSLDA appealed Anastasia’s case. We supplied proof to the Social Security office that homeschool students in 08 schools are legally recognized as students. Because Anastasia is in compliance with Ohio law, we argued that her benefits should be extended until her graduation.

In January 2012, the Social Security Administration fully restored Anastasia’s benefits. As far as HSLDA is aware, this is the first time the Social Security Administration has awarded benefits to a homeschooled student enrolled in an 08 school. Based on Anastasia’s case, we believe that the Social Security administration will no longer deny homeschooled 08 students their Social Security benefits.