Q: My cousin got laid off from her job December 2005 – She still has Cobra. How long can she stay with Cobra. She thinks it is 18 months. Is this true? Or can she have it for longer than 18 months?

A: It is 18 months with a job termination (quit or got “let go”) or a reduction of working hours. When there is a divorce, legal separation, death, loss of child dependant status and entitlement to Medicare the spouse and dependants of the employee can continue the coverage for up to 36 months. In compliance with the COBRA law, it is possible to extend the 18 months of coverage to 29 months, if and individual has been determined disabled at the time of a qualifying event. HIPPA has modified the plan by allowing the 11 month extension to consist of those disabilities that may happen before or during that first 60 days of your COBRA coverage. The HIPPA law also states that not only the individual that is disabled can use the extension; all qualified beneficiaries may continue the COBRA coverage. You also need to contact the plan administrator before the end of the 18 month period. You must also notify the administrator no later than 30 days after the individual is no longer qualified as disabled by the law.

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