Question of the Month: How long can I stay on COBRA after my husband dies?

Dear Gina:

I’m a broker who was just asked a curious question by a female employee of one of my clients. When her husband retired, she enrolled in COBRA. Her husband did not elect COBRA because he was on Medicare. Recently he passed away. She would like to know how long she is able to stay on COBRA?  What’s the answer Gina?

Answer: She is able to stay on COBRA for 36 months. Even though her husband was not on COBRA, “death of employee” is a secondary qualifying event which means she is eligible for an additional 18 months for a total of 36 months on COBRA. The thing about secondary qualifying events is if it can be a primary qualifying event, then it can also be a secondary qualifying event.




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