Twins Seek Reinstatement of Social
Case: Crane Family
v. Social Security Administration|
Filed: March 18, 2008
by Nicholas Bolzman
When twins John and Jane Crane (names changed to protect privacy) turned 18 last March, they were notified by the Social Security Administration (SSA) that their benefits would be halted because they were no longer full-time students. Since they were still being homeschooled, Mrs. Crane contacted Home School Legal Defense Association for help in appealing this decision.
HSLDA submitted an appeal to SSA on behalf of the family, explaining that John and Jane were in full compliance with Michigan homeschool law and that their benefits should not be terminated. Then we began the multi-month wait that is often associated with such appeals.
Shortly thereafter, we discovered that the SSA was unable to reinstate the benefits because they had lost the information we had sent; so we submitted it a second time. After several months and multiple attempts to get in contact with the agency, HSLDA Attorney Darren Jones visited the local SSA office to see if he could speed up the process by appearing in person. Once there, he was told that the benefits were being reinstated. Apparently, the agent reviewing the case had, in spite of our explanation, misunderstood Michigan law. Finally, the confusion was worked out, and the family’s benefits were reinstated.
Third Circuit Denies Free Exercise
Case: Combs v. Homer-Center School District et al.|
Filed: February 2004–05
by Nicholas Bolzman
After months of waiting, we finally received a ruling in the Pennsylvania free exercise case from the United States Court of Appeal for the Third Circuit. Unfortunately, it was not quite the result we were hoping for.
As background on this case, in 2004 and 2005, six homeschooling families filed suit against their school districts, claiming that the highly restrictive home education law of Pennsylvania violates their religious freedom. After almost two years of litigation, the U.S. District Court ruled against the combined six families in May of 2006. Home School Legal Defense Association appealed the decision to the Third Circuit, and Mike Farris presented oral arguments in November 2007. In August 2008, the Third Circuit dismissed the federal claims and remanded the state claims to state court.
The first question before the court was whether the statute violated the families’ First Amendment right of free exercise of religion. The court ruled against the families, asserting that the statute in question did not present enough of a burden on the families’ religion for them to claim a violation. These cases have been much harder to win since the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1990 decision in Employment Division v. Smith, where the Court ruled that infringements on free exercise of religion were permissible as long as they applied to everyone equally.
The second question involved state law. As a result of the Smith decision and the legal fallout from it, the Pennsylvania legislature passed the Religious Freedom Protection Act in 2002, creating state protection for free exercise, a right no longer fully recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court. Here the Third Circuit declined to rule and instead sent the case back to state court.
AL B Family v. Social Security Administration
AL D Family v. Social Security Administration
AZ Loudermilk Family v. Administration for Children, Youth and Families
CA M Family v. County of San Bernardino
FL R Family v. Dept. of Veteran Affairs
KS In re EG
KS T Family v. Social Security Administration
MS C Family v. Department of Veterans Affairs
NY In re MD
OH Dept. of Job and Family Services
TN C Family v. Dept. of Children’s Services
VA S Family v. U.S. Office of Personnel Management
WA H Family v. Social Security Administration
Pennsylvania RFPA Cases
Combs v. Homer-Center School District
Hankin v. Bristol Township School District
Nelson v. Titusville Area School District
Newborn v. Franklin Regional School District
Penn-Trafford School District v. B Family
Prevish v. Norwin School District
Weber v. Dubois Area School District
|About the author
Nicholas Bolzman is a litigation assistant