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How Long May a Member Continue Coverage under COBRA?


When the qualified beneficiary is an employee and the covered spouse and dependents lose coverage due to the employee's termination of employment or reduction in hours, the employee, covered spouse and dependents may continue coverage up to 18 months.

The 18-month continuation period may be extended to a maximum of 36 months if a second qualifying event occurs during the 18-month continuation period. The extension does not entitle the qualified beneficiary to more than 36 months of coverage.

When the qualified beneficiary is a covered spouse or dependent child who loses coverage due to divorce or legal separation, death of the employee, the employee becomes covered by Medicare or the loss of dependent child status under the plan, coverage in force on the day prior to the qualifying event can continue for up to 36 months.

A qualified beneficiary who is determined by the Social Security Administration to have been disabled within the first 60 days of COBRA coverage is eligible for the disability extension to a total coverage period of 29 months.

  • The extension may be granted provided a determination letter issued by the Social Security Administration is sent to the Plan Administrator within 60 days of receipt within the 18 month coverage period.
  • The disability extension is available to all individuals who are qualified beneficiaries due to a termination or reduction in hours.
  • To be eligible for the 11 month extension, affected individuals must comply with the notice requirements in a timely fashion. Premiums during the additional 11 months of coverage would be at a substantially higher rate.

Last update on September, 10 2013 by Elizabeth Bonney.

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