- Home to DLR
- Home to Division of Insurance
- About Us
- Agent or Company License Verification
- File a Complaint
- File an External Review Request
- Find Company Financial Ratings
- Guidance on Various Topics
- Laws, Administrative Rules, Bulletins, Memorandums
- Publications (Alerts, Newsletters)
- Report Insurance Fraud
- Search Insurance Company Rate and Form Filings
- Sign up for Alerts & Bulletins
- Useful Links
- Workers' Compensation
- Contact the Division of Insurance
Division of Insurance - COBRA
Longer Periods of COBRA Continuation
COBRA requires that continuation coverage extend from the date of the qualifying event for a limited period of 18 or 36 months. The length of time depends on the type of qualifying event that gave rise to the COBRA rights. A plan, however, may provide longer periods of coverage beyond the maximum period required by law.
When the qualifying event is the covered employee's termination of employment or reduction in hours of employment, qualified beneficiaries are entitled to 18 months of continuation coverage.
When the qualifying event is the end of employment or reduction of the employee's hours, and the employee became entitled to Medicare less than 18 months before the qualifying event, COBRA coverage for the employee's spouse and dependents can last until 36 months after the date the employee becomes entitled to Medicare. For example, if a covered employee becomes entitled to Medicare 8 months before the date his/her employment ends (termination of employment is the COBRA qualifying event), COBRA coverage for his/her spouse and children would last 28 months (36 months minus 8 months). For more information on how entitlement to Medicare impacts the length of COBRA coverage, contact the U.S. Department of Labor's Employee Benefits Security Administration at askebsa.dol.gov or by calling 866.444.3272.
For other qualifying events, qualified beneficiaries must be provided 36 months of continuation coverage.
If you are entitled to an 18 month maximum period of continuation coverage, you may become eligible for an extension of the maximum time period in two circumstances. The first is when a qualified beneficiary is disabled; the second is when a second qualifying event occurs.
If any one of the qualified beneficiaries in your family is disabled and meets certain requirements, all of the qualified beneficiaries receiving continuation coverage due to a single qualifying event are entitled to an 11-month extension of the maximum period of continuation coverage (for a total maximum period of 29 months of continuation coverage). The plan can charge qualified beneficiaries an increased premium, up to 150 percent of the cost of coverage, during the 11-month disability extension.
The requirements are:
- that the Social Security Administration (SSA) determines that the disabled qualified beneficiary is disabled before the 60th day of continuation coverage; and
- that the disability continues during the rest of the 18-month period of continuation coverage.
The disabled qualified beneficiary or another person on his/her behalf also must notify the plan of the SSA determination. The plan can set a time limit for providing this notice of disability, but the time limit cannot be shorter than 60 days, starting from the latest of:
- the date on which SSA issues the disability determination;
- the date on which the qualifying event occurs;
- the date on which the qualified beneficiary loses (or would lose) coverage under the plan as a result of the qualifying event; or
- the date on which the qualified beneficiary is informed, through the furnishing of the summary plan description (SPD) or the COBRA general notice, of the responsibility to notify the plan and the procedures for doing so.
The right to the disability extension may be terminated if the SSA determines that the disabled qualified beneficiary is no longer disabled. The plan can require qualified beneficiaries receiving the disability extension to notify it if the SSA makes such a determination, although the plan must give the qualified beneficiaries at least 30 days after the SSA determination to do so.
The rules for how to give a disability notice and a notice of no longer being disabled should be described in the plan's SPD (and in the election notice if you are offered an 18-month maximum period of continuation coverage.)
If you are receiving an 18-month maximum period of continuation coverage, you may become entitled to an 18-month extension (giving a total maximum period of 36 months of continuation coverage) if you experience a second qualifying event that is the death of a covered employee, the divorce or legal separation of a covered employee and spouse, a covered employee's becoming entitled to Medicare (in certain circumstances), or a loss of dependent child status under the plan. The second event can be a second qualifying event only if it would have caused you to lose coverage under the plan in the absence of the first qualifying event. If a second qualifying event occurs, you will need to notify the plan. A description of the notification process should be described in your plan document.
Return to COBRA frequently asked questions
**Resources used and quoted information for this webpage obtained from the FAQs on COBRA Continuation Health Coverage and An Employer's Guide to Group Health Continuation Coverage Under COBRA as issued by the U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA).
If you still have questions on COBRA:
Contact the Division of Insurance