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COBRA Questions and Answers: Administration and Eligibility

Note: For tax periods beginning after Dec. 31, 2013, an employer who files Form 941 must file Form 941-X, Adjusted Employer's QUARTERLY Federal Tax Return or Claim for Refund, to get reimbursed for the COBRA premium assistance payments that it has provided to assistance-eligible individuals. An employer can no longer claim the COBRA premium assistance payments as a credit on Form 941, Employer's QUARTERLY Federal Tax Return. See Form Preparation for Post-2013 Tax Periods Q&A page (link at bottom) for additional information relating to tax periods beginning after Dec. 31, 2013.


AE-1
Q. How is the IRS going to communicate information about the COBRA premium assistance credit to the employer/payroll community?

A. The IRS will continue to provide updated information through this website as it becomes available. (1/31/14)

AE-2
Q. What individuals are eligible for the COBRA subsidy?

A. An assistance-eligible individual can be any COBRA qualified beneficiary associated with the related covered employee, such as a dependent child of an employee, who is covered immediately prior to the qualifying event. The qualifying event for purposes of eligibility for the subsidy is involuntary termination of the covered employee’s employment that occurs during the period beginning Sept. 1, 2008, and ending May 31, 2010. The qualifying event for purposes of eligibility for the subsidy can also be a reduction in hours that occurs during the period beginning Sept. 1, 2008, and ending May 31, 2010, which is followed by an involuntary termination of employment during the period beginning March 2, 2010, and ending May 31, 2010.  As a result of a change made by the 2010 DOD Act, eligibility for COBRA continuation coverage is no longer required to begin by the end of this period. Thus, an individual can be eligible for the subsidy with respect to COBRA coverage that begins after May 31, 2010, provided that the involuntary termination occurred no later than May 31, 2010. (8/13/10)

AE-3
Q. Is this provision for employees who involuntarily lose their jobs — or will it apply to all employees even if they leave voluntarily?

A. The credit applies only to involuntarily terminated employees and their family members who are qualified beneficiaries. (2/26/09)

AE-4
Q. Is the employer required to provide the COBRA subsidy?

A. The subsidy requirement applies to group health plans that are subject to the federal COBRA continuation coverage requirements or to similar requirements under state law. If you are an employer with such a plan and you receive a 35 percent payment from an assistance-eligible individual, you are required to make the remaining 65 percent payment. (2/26/09)

AE-5
Q. What if the employer’s group health plan is self-insured? Do the subsidy requirements apply?

A. Yes, the subsidy requirements apply to all plans subject to the COBRA requirements, including self-insured plans. In that case, the employer must provide the COBRA coverage if the assistance-eligible individual pays 35 percent of the otherwise required premium. The remaining 65 percent is treated as a payment of payroll taxes by the employer maintaining the plan. (2/26/09)

AE-6
Q. What other agencies will provide information about the COBRA subsidy?

A. Information about the COBRA subsidy will also be available through the Department of Labor and the Department of Health and Human Services, which, along with the IRS, share responsibility for the COBRA requirements. (2/26/09)

AE-7
Q. In order to be an assistance-eligible individual, must the individual actually have coverage under the group health plan at the time of the involuntary termination of employment?  

A. Generally, yes. Generally, the individual must have actual group coverage at the time of the qualifying event, i.e., the involuntary termination of employment. However, an assistance eligible individual who has a qualifying event that is a reduction of hours followed by an involuntary termination of employment within the required period need not have coverage under the plan at the time of the involuntary termination of employment. In either case, the qualifying event must occur between Sept. 1, 2008, and May 31, 2010, and the individual must elect COBRA coverage or similar state coverage. (8/13/10)

AE-8
Q. Is the COBRA benefit based on the former employee’s insurance coverage?  

A. In general, COBRA coverage is based on the same coverage that the individual had at the time of the qualifying event. However, under the COBRA subsidy provision, an employer may offer an assistance-eligible individual the option of choosing other coverage that is also offered to active employees and that does not have higher premiums than the coverage the individual had at the time of the qualifying event. (3/5/09)

AE-9
Q. Does the subsidy apply to vision and dental plans or only to medical plans?  

A. The subsidy is generally available for COBRA continuation coverage under any group health plan, including medical, dental and vision coverage. However, it does not apply to a flexible spending arrangement (FSA) offered under a cafeteria plan. (1/31/14)

AE-10
Q. If an employer changes the insurance offered under its group health plan, can the subsidy apply to an assistance-eligible individual’s coverage under the new insurance?

A. Yes, as long as the individual’s coverage under the new insurance qualifies as COBRA continuation coverage and the individual otherwise continues to be eligible for the subsidy. (3/19/09)

AE-11
Q. What is the general process by which an assistance-eligible individual applies for the subsidy?

A. A group health plan is required to notify any individual with a qualifying event occurring during the period from Sept. 1, 2008 through May 31, 2010, of the availability of the subsidy. Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), if an assistance eligible individual already had COBRA coverage in effect on Feb. 17, 2009 (ARRA’s date of enactment), the individual should have received a special notice of the availability of the subsidy with an explanation of how to apply for the subsidy. Special notice requirements apply also under the 2010 DOD Act, TEA 2010 and CEA 2010. (8/13/10)

AE-12
Q. If an individual’s involuntary termination of employment took place on or after Sept. 1, 2008 and before Feb. 17, 2009, and the individual became eligible for COBRA coverage during that period, but the individual doesn’t have COBRA coverage in effect on Feb. 17, 2009, can the individual still elect COBRA coverage and get the subsidy?

A. Yes, if the individual’s right to continuation coverage is provided under federal law.  In that case, the individual will be given a new special election period to elect COBRA coverage and to pay reduced premiums as an assistance eligible individual. The special election period applies regardless of whether the individual failed to elect COBRA coverage previously or elected COBRA coverage and later discontinued it. The individual should be notified by April 18, 2009 of the new opportunity to elect COBRA coverage. The individual will then have 60 days after the notice to elect COBRA coverage and apply for the subsidy. (3/19/09)

AE-13
Q. What agency is responsible for providing guidance on these notice requirements?

A. The Department of Labor (DOL) is responsible for providing guidance on notices that must be provided about the availability of the subsidy and, if applicable, the special COBRA election period. For more information on the COBRA subsidy notice requirements, visit DOL’s COBRA page at www.dol.gov/COBRA, which contains model notices and other guidance on these provisions. You can also call 1-866-444-3272 to speak with a benefits advisor from DOL’s Employee Benefits Security Administration. (3/19/09)

AE-14
Q. How will the COBRA premium subsidy be provided retroactive to September 2008?

A. The COBRA premium subsidy is not retroactive. The earliest it can apply is for the first period of coverage beginning on or after Feb. 17, 2009, the date of enactment of the bill. In addition, if an individual elects COBRA coverage under the special COBRA election period, the coverage is effective only for the first period of coverage beginning on or after Feb. 17, 2009. In the case of a health plan that provides coverage on a calendar month basis, the first period of coverage is the month beginning March 1, 2009. (3/19/09) 

A-15
Q. Can an assistance-eligible individual reduce his or her COBRA premium to 35% immediately, rather than waiting for the notice from the health plan?

A. Yes. The subsidy applies as of an assistance eligible individual’s first period of coverage beginning on or after Feb. 17, 2009.  For example, it would apply to the premium for the period of coverage beginning March 1, 2009, in the case of coverage provided on a calendar month basis. However, because the COBRA subsidy provision was only recently enacted, systems to implement the premium reduction might not yet be in place. The assistance-eligible individual would therefore be well-advised to contact the group health plan or employer to discuss the premium reduction before sending in the reduced premium. (3/19/09)

AE-16
Q. Can an employer just reduce an assistance-eligible individual’s premiums to 35 percent, rather than notifying the individual about the subsidy?

A. No, because an individual might not be eligible for the subsidy. For example, the individual might be eligible for coverage under another group health plan and therefore not be eligible for the subsidy. (3/19/09)

AE-17
Q. Can an employer pay an assistance-eligible individual’s 35 percent share of the premium, rather than collecting it from the individual? 

A. No. The premium subsidy provision does not allow the individual’s 35 percent share of the premium to be paid by the employer. (3/19/09)

AE-18
Q. If I am an assistance-eligible individual, is there any other way to get the subsidy besides paying reduced premiums? For example, can I take it as a credit when I file my 2009 tax return?

A. No, the subsidy is provided to an assistance-eligible individual only in the form of reduced COBRA premiums. That is, the assistance-eligible individual only has to pay 35 percent of the premium in order to receive COBRA coverage. The employer is reimbursed for the remaining 65 percent through a credit on its payroll tax returns. (3/19/09)

AE-19
Q. Is an employer-initiated layoff an involuntary termination of employment for purposes of eligibility for the COBRA premium subsidy? 

A. Yes, an employer-initiated layoff is generally an involuntary termination of employment for purposes of eligibility for COBRA premium subsidy. (3/19/09)

AE-20
Q. Does the COBRA premium subsidy provision apply to tax-exempt entities?

A. Yes. A tax-exempt entity that is required to provide COBRA continuation coverage is required to provide the subsidy to assistance-eligible individuals. Moreover, an employer that is exempt from Federal income tax is generally subject to federal payroll tax requirements and required to file Form 941. As in the case of taxable employers, for tax periods ending before Jan. 1, 2014, a tax-exempt entity can claim credit on Form 941 for the COBRA subsidy it provides. (1/31/14)

Note: For tax periods beginning after Dec. 31, 2013, an employer (including a tax-exempt entity) who files Form 941 must file Form 941-X, Adjusted Employer's QUARTERLY Federal Tax Return or Claim for Refund, to get reimbursed for the COBRA premium assistance payments that it has provided to assistance-eligible individuals. See the Form Preparation for Post-2013 Tax Periods Q&A page (link at bottom) for additional information relating to tax periods beginning after Dec. 31, 2013. (1/31/14)

AE-21
Q. How will the COBRA credit apply in the case of a business acquisition that results in a successor employer? 

A. There is no “one size fits all” answer because the result depends on the facts and circumstances, including whether the entity that provided the subsidy continues in existence. The fact that an employer is a successor employer for purposes of applying the social security wage base does not mean that it can claim credit for the subsidy provided by the predecessor employer. (3/19/09)

AE-22
Q. Does the COBRA premium subsidy provision apply to employers in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands?

A. Yes. Employers (or multiemployer plans or insurers, as applicable) in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands that are required to provide COBRA continuation coverage are required to provide the subsidy to assistance-eligible individuals. For tax periods ending before Jan.1, 2014, employers can claim credit on Form 941-PR (for employers in Puerto Rico) or Form 941-SS (for employers in American Samoa, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands) for the amount of subsidy provided. (1/31/14)

Note: For tax periods beginning after Dec. 31, 2013, an employer (including a tax-exempt entity) who files Form 941-PR must file Form 941-X (PR), Adjusted Employer's QUARTERLY Federal Tax Return or Claim for Refund, to get reimbursed for the COBRA premium assistance payments that it has provided to assistance-eligible individuals. Similarly, an employer who files Form 941-SS must file Form 941-X to get reimbursed for the COBRA premium assistance payments that it has provided to assistance-eligible individuals. See the Form Preparation for Post-2013 Tax Periods Q&A page (link at bottom) for additional information relating to tax periods beginning after Dec.31, 2013. (1/31/14)

AE-23
Q. When does the premium reduction first apply to an assistance eligible individual?

A. The premium reduction applies as of the first period of coverage beginning on or after Feb. 17, 2009, for which the assistance eligible individual is eligible to pay only 35 percent of the premium (as determined without regard to the premium reduction) and be treated as having made full payment. For this purpose, a period of coverage is a monthly or shorter period with respect to which premiums are charged by the plan. The exact date when the first period of coverage beginning on or after Feb. 17, 2009, begins depends on the period with respect to which premiums are charged by the plan. (5/1/09)

Note: This question and answer is based on Q&A-30 of Notice 2009-27. See Q&A-31 and -32 of Notice 2009-27 for additional guidance on the first period of coverage for which the premium reduction applies.

AE-24
Q. How long does the premium reduction apply to an assistance eligible individual?

A. The premium reduction applies until the earliest of (1) the first date the assistance eligible individual becomes eligible for other group health plan coverage (with certain exceptions) or Medicare coverage, (2) the date that is 15 months after the first day of the first month for which the ARRA premium reduction provisions apply to the individual, or (3) the date the individual ceases to be eligible for COBRA continuation coverage. (8/18/10)

Note: This question and answer is based on Q&A-33 of Notice 2009-27, but updated to reflect changes to the period for which an individual can be eligible for the premium reduction made by the 2010 DOD Act and TEA 2010. See Q&A-34 through -37 of Notice 2009-27 for additional guidance on how eligibility for other group health plan coverage affects eligibility for the premium reduction. (8/13/10)

AE-25
Q. Notice 2009-27 provides guidance on whether a termination of employment is involuntary for purposes of the COBRA premium subsidy provision. In what circumstances will  the COBRA qualifying event be treated as an involuntary termination of employment for purposes of claiming a payroll tax credit for the COBRA premium subsidy provided to an individual?

A. If, based on a reasonable interpretation of the ARRA requirement that the COBRA qualifying event is an involuntary termination of employment (or a reduction in hours, which is followed by an involuntary termination) during the applicable period and administrative guidance thereunder, an employer determines that this requirement is met, the qualifying event will be deemed to be an involuntary termination of employment (or a reduction in hours, which is followed by an involuntary termination) for purposes of whether the employer is entitled to claim a payroll tax credit for the COBRA premium subsidy provided to an individual. In order to be eligible for this treatment, the employer must maintain supporting documentation of its determination that the COBRA qualifying event was an involuntary termination of employment (or a reduction in hours, which was followed by an involuntary termination) during the applicable period, including, as discussed in question RD-1 (see link to page at bottom), an attestation by the employer of involuntary termination for each covered employee whose involuntary termination is the basis for eligibility for the subsidy. (8/13/10)

AE-26
Q. If a health plan is not subject to any “COBRA continuation coverage” requirements as defined for purposes of the COBRA premium subsidy, but the employer voluntarily provides continuation coverage, does the subsidy apply to the voluntary coverage?

A. No. See Notice 2009-27, Q&A-16. The subsidy applies only to premiums for “COBRA continuation coverage” as defined under the COBRA premium subsidy provision. Under this definition, COBRA continuation coverage consists of federal COBRA under the Internal Revenue Code (Code) or the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), which generally apply to plans of private employers (other than churches) with at least 20 employees, or under the Public Health Service Act (PHSA), which applies to plans of state or local government employers with at least 20 employees; temporary continuation coverage (TCC) under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP); and state law continuation coverage requirements that are comparable to the Federal COBRA requirements, often referred to as state &quotmini-COBRA&quot laws.

For example, the subsidy does not apply to premiums for continuation coverage under a church plan (as defined under the Code and ERISA) that is exempt from the COBRA requirements under the Code and ERISA and is also not subject to any comparable State law requirements. Similarly, the subsidy does not apply to premiums for continuation coverage under a governmental plan (as defined under the Code and ERISA) maintained by a federal instrumentality the employees of which are not covered by FEHBP, or to a plan maintained by an Indian tribal government that satisfies the requirements for a governmental plan (as defined under the Code and ERISA). (6/4/09)

AE-27
Q. If an insurer provides continuation coverage that is required under state law and is otherwise comparable to federal COBRA coverage, does it fail to be “COBRA continuation coverage” as defined under the COBRA premium subsidy provision merely because it is provided after the employer has gone out of business and the employer’s group health plan has been terminated?

A. No. If the continuation coverage is required under state law and is otherwise comparable to federal COBRA coverage — that is, the coverage is substantially similar to the coverage that was previously provided under the group health plan and is provided at a monthly cost that is based on a specified percentage of the group health plan's cost of providing such coverage — then it qualifies as COBRA continuation coverage that is eligible for the premium subsidy even after the employer has gone out of business and the group health plan has been terminated. (6/4/09)

AE-28
Q. In the case of an employee who is hired only for a limited period, such as a seasonal worker, or a teacher hired only for one school year, can the end of employment at the end of the period be considered an involuntary termination?

A. Yes. Under Notice 2009-27, Q&A-1, an involuntary termination may include the employer’s failure to renew a contract at the time the contract expires, if the employee was willing and able to execute a new contract providing terms and conditions similar to those in the expiring contract and to continue providing the services. Thus, if an employee hired for a limited period works to the end of the period, is willing and able to continue employment, and terminates employment because of the failure of the employer to offer additional work, an involuntary termination occurs for purposes of the premium subsidy. (6/4/09)

AE-29
Q. Is an elected official involuntarily terminated at the completion of his or her term of office if the official ran for reelection and was not reelected?

A. Yes. (6/4/09)

AE-30
Q. Is an elected official who is prohibited from running for reelection because of term limits involuntarily terminated at the completion of his or her term of office?

A. Yes. (6/4/09)

AE-31
Q. Is an elected official who is eligible to run for reelection, but chooses not to, involuntarily terminated at the completion of his or her term of office?

A. No. This is the result even if the official does not run for reelection because of health or other reasons. (6/4/09)

AE-32
Q. If an employee’s eligibility for health coverage under a multiemployer plan is based on a minimum number of hours of covered employment, can the employee become an assistance-eligible individual if the employee’s involuntary termination by an employer contributing to the plan results in the employee’s failing to satisfy the minimum hours requirement and losing coverage? If so, how does subsequent employment with one or more employers contributing to the plan affect the employee’s eligibility for the premium subsidy?

A. If an employee covered by a multiemployer health plan is involuntarily terminated by an employer contributing to the plan, resulting in a reduction in the employee’s total number of hours of covered employment, which causes the employee to lose coverage and become eligible for COBRA, the employee can be an assistance-eligible individual (and eligible for the COBRA premium reduction) if the involuntary termination occurs during the period from Sept. 1, 2008 through May 31, 2010, and the individual elects COBRA coverage.  An employee otherwise meeting the requirements for being an assistance eligible individual does not lose that eligibility merely because the COBRA coverage begins after May 31, 2010. Moreover, the loss of coverage and eligibility for COBRA do not have to occur immediately after the involuntary termination, for example, because the employee has “banked” hours at the time of the involuntary termination. In addition, the employee does not become ineligible for the premium subsidy merely because of subsequent employment with one or more employers contributing to the plan, provided that the employee continues COBRA coverage and does not otherwise become disqualified. However, if the employee works enough hours to become eligible again for active coverage, eligibility for the premium subsidy ends when active coverage under the plan begins and COBRA coverage ends. (8/13/10)

AE-33
Q. Does an involuntary termination of employment occur if a member of a military Reserve unit or the National Guard who is employed by a civilian employer is called to active duty?

A. Yes. This is the case regardless of whether the civilian employer otherwise treats the employee’s absence as a termination of employment or a leave of absence. (6/4/09)

AE-34
Q. Does eligibility for the COBRA premium reduction end if an assistance-eligible individual is eligible for or covered by TRICARE health coverage provided for members of the military and their families?

A. No. Eligibility for coverage or coverage by TRICARE health coverage does not end an assistance-eligible individual’s period of premium subsidy. See McGee v. Funderburg, 17 F.3rd 1122 (8th Cir. 1994). (6/4/09)

AE-35
Q. If an individual who did not have a COBRA election in effect on Feb. 17, 2009, is eligible for the extended Federal (or FEHBP) COBRA election period and elects COBRA coverage during that period, does the individual’s COBRA coverage have to be effective with the first period of coverage beginning on or after Feb. 17, 2009?

A. An individual who is eligible for the extended Federal (or FEHBP) COBRA election period must be offered COBRA coverage that is effective with the first period of coverage beginning on or after Feb. 17. 2009. See Notice 2009-27, Q&A-52. However, the employer or health plan may also allow the individual to elect COBRA coverage to be effective as of a later date. In that case, however, for purposes of the 15-month limit on eligibility for the premium subsidy, the 15-month period would begin with the first period of coverage beginning on or after Feb. 17, 2009. In addition, under ARRA, the period starting with the involuntary termination and ending with the first day of the first period of coverage beginning on or after Feb. 17, 2009, is disregarded in determining whether a break in coverage has occurred for purposes of limiting preexisting condition exclusions under subsequent group health plan coverage. However, if an individual elects COBRA coverage to be effective as of a later date, the period between the first day of the first period of coverage beginning on or after Feb. 17, 2009, and the date when COBRA coverage is effective is not disregarded for purposes of the rules limiting preexisting condition exclusions. (8/18/10)

AE-36
Q. Notice 2009-27, Q&A-51, provides that the premium subsidy can apply to coverage provided under state requirements pursuant to a special election period similar to the extended federal (or FEHBP) COBRA election period. If state COBRA law is amended to provide such an election period, does the COBRA premium subsidy apply to coverage elected during such a period, and, if so, even if the coverage offered during such a period begins later than the first period of coverage beginning on or after Feb. 17, 2009?

A. If state COBRA law is amended to provide a special election period similar to the extended federal (or FEHBP) COBRA election period, the COBRA premium subsidy applies to coverage elected during such a period. Such state law can require coverage offered during such a period to be effective with the first period of coverage beginning on or after Feb. 17, 2009, or allow it to be effective as of a later date. However, as discussed in question AE-35, if an individual is eligible for COBRA coverage effective with the first period of coverage beginning on or after Feb. 17, 2009, and elects COBRA coverage to be effective as of a later date, the 15-month limit on eligibility for the premium subsidy would begin with the first period of coverage beginning on or after Feb. 17, 2009. In addition, depending on state law, the delay in the beginning of COBRA coverage could affect the application of preexisting condition limitations. (8/13/10)

AE-37
Q.  If an assistance-eligible individual has the option of paying his or her COBRA premiums on a pretax basis under a health reimbursement arrangement (HRA), can the individual’s 35 percent share of the premium be paid from the HRA?

A. COBRA premiums paid on a pretax basis from an HRA are treated as paid by the employer and are not taken into account in determining whether an individual has paid his or her 35 percent share of the COBRA premiums. See Notice 2009-27, Q&A-22, Example 2. Therefore, the individual is not treated as paying the 35 percent and the subsidy does not apply. (6/4/09)

AE-38
Q. What changes did the 2010 DOD Act, TEA 2010 and CEA 2010 make to eligibility for the COBRA premium subsidy?

A. The changes made by the 2010 DOD Act, TEA 2010 and CEA 2010 include: 

(1) An extension to May 31, 2010, for the period during which an involuntary termination can occur that results in eligibility for the COBRA premium subsidy. Thus, COBRA continuation coverage resulting from involuntary terminations occurring on or before May 31, 2010, may qualify for reduced premiums.

(2) An expansion under TEA 2010 of eligibility for the subsidy to an individual who becomes eligible for COBRA continuation coverage as a result of a reduction in hours occurring between Sept. 1, 2008, and May 31, 2010 (as extended by CEA 2010), which is then followed by an involuntary termination of employment between March 2, 2010 (the date of enactment of TEA 2010) and May 31, 2010 (as extended by CEA 2010). A special COBRA election period applies to such an individual who did not elect COBRA coverage as a result of the reduction in hours or who elected COBRA coverage and dropped it.

(3) An extension under the 2010 DOD Act of the maximum eligibility period from nine months to 15 months. Special transition rules allow an extended time to make the 35% premium payments retroactively for individuals who had COBRA continuation coverage, but stopped paying premiums when the prior nine-month period for reduced premiums ended.

(4) Elimination under the 2010 DOD Act of the requirement that individuals have COBRA continuation coverage by the end of the period during which the involuntary termination must occur, i.e., May 31, 2010 (as extended by TEA 2010 and CEA 2010). As a result, an individual whose qualifying event for COBRA coverage is an involuntary termination that occurs on or before May 31, 2010, and whose COBRA coverage begins on June 1, 2010, or later may still qualify for up to 15 months of the premium subsidy.

(5) A special COBRA election period under CEA 2010 for individuals experiencing a qualifying event related to a termination of employment on or after April 1, 2010, and before April 15, 2010, the date of enactment of CEA 2010. (8/16/10)

AE-39
Q. How will individuals be informed about the changes made to the subsidy by the 2010 DOD Act, TEA 2010 and CEA 2010?

A. The 2010 DOD Act, TEA 2010 and CEA 2010 include special notice requirements applicable to plan sponsors (or insurers in some cases) to ensure that individuals eligible for the expanded subsidy learn about it. Information about the notice requirements and model notices reflecting the changes are available on the DOL website at http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/COBRA.html. (8/16/10)

AE-40
Q. What individuals are eligible for the extended time under the 2010 DOD Act to make the 35% premium payments retroactively and when do the premium payments have to be made?

A. Generally, assistance-eligible individuals who timely paid all premiums for the first nine months of eligibility for the COBRA subsidy before getting an updated notice informing them about the extension under the 2010 DOD Act have until the latest of Feb. 17, 2010, 30 days from when notice of the extension is provided, or the end of the grace period for paying a premium to make retroactive premium payments for periods after the nine months that were due before that date. (8/16/10)

AE-41
Q. Does an assistance-eligible individual who previously received the premium subsidy for nine months have to wait to receive notice before reducing their premium payment to 35%?

A. No. An assistance-eligible individual who continues to be eligible for the subsidy as a result of the extension of the subsidy period to 15 months may reduce their premium payments to 35%, provided that the individual otherwise remains eligible for the subsidy (for example, the individual is not eligible for coverage under any other group health plan or for Medicare). (8/16/10) 

AE-42
Q. If an assistance-eligible individual received the subsidy for nine months and then paid the full COBRA premium (100% rather than 35%) before learning about the extension to 15 months, e.g., the premium for December 2009 or January 2010, will the individual be reimbursed for the 65% difference?

A. An individual who paid the full premium should contact their employer, plan administrator or insurance issuer about obtaining a refund or a credit against future premiums. (8/16/10) 

AE-43
Q. What individuals who became eligible for COBRA continuation coverage as a result of a reduction in hours are eligible for the COBRA subsidy?

A. Although COBRA continuation coverage may be available to an individual who loses coverage as a result of a reduction in hours, such an individual is generally not eligible for the COBRA subsidy. However, under TEA 2010, the COBRA subsidy is available to an individual who became eligible for COBRA continuation coverage as a result of a reduction in hours occurring between Sept. 1, 2008, and May 31, 2010 (as extended by CEA 2010), which was followed by an involuntary termination of employment between March 2, 2010, and May 31, 2010 (as extended by CEA 2010), provided that the individual is otherwise eligible for the subsidy (for example, is not eligible for other group health coverage or Medicare). Eligibility for the subsidy begins with the first period of COBRA coverage after the involuntary termination of employment. (8/16/10)

AE-44
Q. When does eligibility for the COBRA subsidy end for such an individual?

A. Eligibility for the COBRA subsidy ends at the earliest of 15 months, the end of COBRA coverage, or eligibility for coverage under another group health plan or Medicare. In general, COBRA coverage for such an individual ends 18 months after the reduction in hours; this period is not extended by reason of a subsequent involuntary termination that results in eligibility for the subsidy. (8/16/10) 

AE-45
Q. What individuals are entitled to a new COBRA election period as a result of TEA 2010?

A. A new COBRA election period applies to an individual who was eligible for and did not elect COBRA continuation coverage after the reduction in hours or who elected COBRA and dropped it. For this purpose, the involuntary termination is treated as a new COBRA qualifying event. However, the maximum period of COBRA coverage (generally 18 months) is determined by reference to the reduction in hours. The plan sponsor (or insurer in some cases) must notify the individual of the new election right. (8/16/10) 

AE-46
Q. What individuals are entitled to a new COBRA election period as a result of CEA 2010?

A. A new COBRA election period applies to an individual who experienced a qualifying event related to a termination of employment on or after April 1, 2010, and before April 15, 2010, the date of enactment of CEA 2010. The election period begins on April 15, 2010, and ends 60 days after the individual receives notice of the election period and possible availability of the premium subsidy. (8/16/10)

AE-47
Q. To what COBRA continuation coverage do the new election periods under TEA 2010 and CEA 2010 apply?

A. The new election periods under TEA 2010 and CEA 2010 apply to COBRA continuation provisions as defined under the COBRA premium subsidy provision. Under this definition, COBRA continuation coverage consists of Federal COBRA under the Internal Revenue Code, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act or the Public Health Service Act; temporary continuation coverage under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program; and state law continuation coverage requirements that are comparable to the Federal COBRA requirements, often referred to as state &quotmini-COBRA&quot laws. (8/16/10)

AE-48
Q. If an individual is involuntarily terminated on or before May 31, 2010, the individual receives severance benefits that include six months of continued health coverage on the same terms as active employees, and the employee’s COBRA continuation coverage period begins at the end of the six months, for what period is the individual eligible for the COBRA premium subsidy?

A. Assuming the individual elects COBRA coverage at the end of the six months and is otherwise eligible for the subsidy (for example, continues COBRA coverage and is not eligible for coverage under any other group health plan or for Medicare), the individual is eligible for the subsidy for up to 15 months beginning with the first month of COBRA coverage. (8/16/10) 

AE-49
Q. If COBRA continuation coverage is generally provided on a calendar month basis, but an individual’s first period of COBRA coverage and subsidy eligibility is for a partial month, when does the individual’s 15 months of subsidy end?

A. The individual’s eligibility for the subsidy ends 15 months after the first day for which the individual becomes eligible for the subsidy (provided the individual otherwise continues to be eligible for the subsidy). For example, if an individual’s eligibility for COBRA coverage, and for the subsidy, began Jan. 20, 2010, the individual’s eligibility for the subsidy would end April 19, 2011, provided that the individual continues COBRA coverage until then and does not become eligible for other group health coverage or Medicare before then. (8/16/10) 

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Page Last Reviewed or Updated: 03-Feb-2014