Congressman Tom Emmer (R-MN-06), alongside Congressman Tim Walberg (R-MI-07), secured survivors benefits for homeschooled children. Prior to this, Minnesota and Michigan blocked homeschoolers over 17 and 18 respectively from attaining benefits.
According to the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), both states were cutting off Social Security Administration (SSA) survivors benefits to homeschoolers due to “lack of proof” of their status as full-time students. In both states’ eyes, the students didn’t meet state compulsory education laws.
The HSLDA said that state officials believed that nothing was legally compelling homeschooled 18-year-old students to remain in school. Therefore, the state said that the teens couldn’t be considered students.
Survivors benefits are granted to children as an income supplement following parental retirement, disability, or death. Federal law recognizes full-time student youths up to two months after their 19th birthday as eligible.
The HSLDA contacted Emmer and Walberg about their states’ SSA denying homeschoolers survivors benefits. Both congressmen reviewed their district-specific policy manuals (POMS) and regional offices’ policies on survivors benefits. Emmer discovered a rule claiming that “homeschools in Minnesota are not educational institutions, because they are not recognized as schools apart from the compulsory education ages” (PR 17-061). This conflicted with federal law concerning student eligibility.
“Homeschooling is an excellent way to receive a quality education, and families who decide to make the necessary sacrifices for this choice should not be penalized by their government,” stated Emmer. “After working with my colleague Congressmen Walberg and contacting the Social Security Administration, I am glad to see them rectify this injustice and restore the benefits these families serve.”
The Minnesota Sun asked Representative Emmer spokespersons if benefits would be issued for those who didn’t receive any under Minnesota or Michigan interpretations of SSA policy. Emmer’s team did not respond by press time.
The policy revisions will be implemented immediately.
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Corinne Murdock is a reporter at The Minnesota Sun and the Star News Network. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to [email protected]