PART 1: RULINGS AND DECISIONS
SSR 76-11a: Section 202(d) (42 U.S.C. 402(d))—Child's Insurance Benefits—Definition of Educational Institution
20 CFR 404.320(c)(5)
Where claimants for child's insurance benefits as "full-time students" contended that because the credits of the nonaccredited school they attended were accepted, on transfer, by three schools recognized by the Social Security Administration as educational institutions, benefits should be awarded. Held, although three schools accepting credits from the claimants' school are recognized by the Administration as educational institutions, they have not been accredited by a State-recognized accrediting agency and therefore the school attended by the claimants does not meet the definition of an "educational institution" set forth in Section 202(d)(7)(C) of the Social Security Act.
The issue before the Appeals Council is whether the claimants are entitled to child's insurance benefits as full-time students. Specifically at issue is whether the school they attend meets the definition of an educational institution as prescribed by section 202(d)(7)(C) of the Social Security Act and section 404.302(c)(5) of Regulations No. 4.
The wage earner was entitled to old-age insurance benefits beginning January 1973. On October 2, 1972, he filed an application for child's insurance benefits on behalf of his two sons. This claim was denied initially and upon reconsideration because it was determined that the school the children were attending was not a school approved by a State or accredited by a State-recognized or nationally-recognized accrediting body. The administrative law judge concluded that, since three schools that were recognized as educational institutions by the Social Security Administration accepted transfer credit from the school attended by the claimants, it met the definition of an education institution and that the claimants were, therefore, entitled to child's insurance benefits. Although the school in question is not accredited by any recognized accrediting agency, it will be recognized as an educational institution for purposes of entitlement to child's insurance benefits if three accredited educational institutions accept its credits—on transfer.
Section 202(d)(7)(C) of the Social Security Act defines an "educational institution" as follows:
"(C)An 'educational institution' is (i) a school or college or university operated or directly supported by the United States, or by any State or local government or political subdivision thereof, or (ii) a school or college or university which has been approved by a State or accredited by a State-recognized or nationally-recognized accrediting agency or body, or (iii) a nonaccredited school or college or university whose credits are accepted, on transfer, by not less than three institutions which are so accredited, for credit on the same basis as if transferred from an institution so accredited." See, also, Social Security Administration Regulations No. 4, section 404.320(c)(5).
The Social Security Administration sent the customary school attendance form to the school attended by the claimants, and the school informed the Administration of three schools in the United States to which they had sent academic records. These three schools are not accredited educational institutions and the acceptance by these schools of transfer credits from the school attended by the claimants is insufficient to qualify it as an educational institution within the meaning of section 202(d)(7)(C) of the Act.
The claimant presented letters from three schools which all indicate that they freely accept all transfer credits taken at the school which the claimants attend. All three of these schools are recognized as educational institutions by the Administration and precedent cases are available which indicate that students at these schools are receiving child's insurance benefits as full-time students. Because these three educational institutions accept, on transfer, the courses taken at the school attended by the claimants, the administrative law judge found that it met the definition of an educational institution.
However, none of these three schools are accredited schools. Since the Social Security Act and the applicable regulations required that the credits be accepted, on transfer, by three institutions "which have been accredited by a State-recognized or nationally recognized accrediting agency," the acceptance of transfer credits by these three schools does not qualify the school in question.
This being the case, the school does not meet the prescribed definition of an educational institution and the claimants are not entitled to benefits.