January 7, 2003

Homeschooling Widow Wins Benefits Appeal

After Home School Legal Defense Association appealed the Office of Personnel Management's decision to cut off benefits to a homeschooling widow, the OPM rescinded its decision and reinstated the benefits.

When Mrs. Leo's (name changed) husband died, she and her son began receiving government benefits due to Mr. Leo's job. These benefits gave her enough income so that she could homeschool her son. However, when he turned 18, the Office of Personnel Management cut off the benefits, even though he was still enrolled as a homeschooler under Ohio law. OPM claimed that he was not enrolled in an educational institution recognized under federal law.

HSLDA immediately wrote to OPM, pointing out that this decision went directly against OPM policy as stated by OPM Director Kay Coles James, in her letter to HSLDA of February 13, 2002. OPM denied this request to reconsider, so HSLDA appealed to the Merit Systems Protection Board on behalf of our member.

On December 24, 2002, OPM informed the Protection Board that it was rescinding the decision and would reinstate Mrs. Leo's benefits. The Board then dismissed the appeal as unnecessary.

"We were delighted with this victory," said Jim Mason, Litigation Attorney for HSLDA. "It is unfortunate that the Office of Personnel Management took so long to recognize that homeschooling students are enrolled in an educational institution, but we are thankful that Mrs. Leo will be able to continue getting the benefits her husband left her."