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New Jersey

August 27, 2012

On the Case:

Victory for Homeschool Student’s Medicaid Appeal

Staff Attorney Darren Jones is a member of HSLDA’s litigation team. He and his wife homeschool.
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In April 2012, Peggy Liter (names changed to protect privacy) received a letter from Medicaid stating that her daughter Katrina’s benefits were terminated because she had turned 18 and was not a secondary level student. Contrary to Medicaid’s claim, Katrina is a homeschool student, a senior who anticipates graduating in January 2013. Ms. Liter promptly contacted Home School Legal Defense Association.

After Ms. Liter lost her job in 2008, her family experienced difficulties, including homelessness, while she searched two years for a job. Although she found employment in 2010, she still needed help and enrolled in Medicaid.

Unilateral Decision

According to Medicaid’s own rules, dependents enrolled in secondary school past the age of 18 years are still eligible to receive benefits. Unfortunately, the Liters’ caseworker interpreted the guidelines in a way that discriminated against homeschool students. This was the first homeschooling case he had encountered, and he “felt that something official was needed” to prove that Katrina was homeschooling. Since New Jersey does not require homeschoolers to submit any documentation to the state or school district, the caseworker unilaterally decided that homeschooling did not meet Medicaid’s guidelines.

HSLDA worked with Ms. Liter to appeal the case by guiding her through the submission of a request for a fair hearing. We argued that Medicaid should recognize Katrina as a legitimate secondary level student because she complied with New Jersey’s laws regarding homeschooling.

At the recent hearing, the judge recognized Ms. Liter’s right to homeschool, and he ruled that homeschool students were eligible for Medicaid just as any other high school student. HSLDA communicated directly with the caseworker to explain what materials he should expect to receive from the Liters to verify that Katrina is a homeschool student. Ms. Liter’s aid has now been continued until Katrina’s graduation.