January 4, 2005

Social Security Benefits Denied

In early 2004 the Smith family received a letter cutting off Social Security disability benefits to their 18-year-old daughter. She had received these benefits for several years, and according to Social Security Administration (SSA) policies should have been able to continue receiving them as long as she was enrolled in a high school.

The Smith's quickly contacted the local SSA office for Peoria County, explaining that Sarah had not yet graduated from their homeschool program. The SSA responded by reaffirming its denial of benefits, explaining that homeschools were not considered valid high school programs. After going back and forth with SSA officials for several months, the Smiths contacted HSLDA for assistance.

HSLDA sent a letter to the SSA office explaining that homeschools in Illinois are considered valid private schools, even under the national SSA policies, and therefore the benefits should be reinstated. The SSA official stated that he would reconsider if Mrs. Smith brought in attendance reports, curriculum lists, and "other stuff." When asked what "other stuff" meant, the official said he didn't know.

Mrs. Smith agreed to submit the items requested, but when she dropped them off, was told again that homeschools were not valid schools, and that the benefits were still denied. At this point HSLDA attorney Darren Jones called the SSA office to explain Illinois law and national SSA policy. Sometimes government officials will only listen when sufficient pressure is applied. HSLDA was able to convince the official that he was wrong.

Any HSLDA member experiencing this type of problem should contact our office for assistance.