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  4. How Long Can You Stay On COBRA?

How Long Does COBRA Insurance Last?

COBRA insurance can last for 18 months after losing a job, with a chance for more time in certain situations. For other qualifying events, dependents may receive up to 36 months of coverage.

My job may end in the next couple months. How long can I stay on COBRA?

You can stay on COBRA for 18 or 36 Months

In the event you experience a significant change in your work or personal life, you may be eligible for COBRA continuation coverage. Enrolling in COBRA allows you and your family to maintain your employer-provided health insurance for a limited time. This applies to qualifying events, such as losing your job or experiencing a family change like divorce.

The duration of your COBRA insurance coverage depends on the event that made you eligible, allowing you to keep COBRA for up to 18 or 36 months. Your group health plan’s plan administrator can offer more details.

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How long can employees use COBRA?

When an employee is terminated, they are allowed an 18-month period of health coverage. This includes situations such as:

  • Voluntarily quitting
  • Terminated involuntarily (fired)
  • Layoff / Furlough
  • Reduction in hours that would make them no longer eligible for work health insurance
  • Retiring

Leaving a job can be either voluntary or involuntary. You can keep your employer’s group health insurance for 18 months after departure. By electing COBRA coverage individuals have the right to retain their health benefits even if their employment status changes.

How long can dependents use COBRA?

Qualifying events can remove a partner, spouse, or dependent from a group healthcare plan. These beneficiaries are then eligible for COBRA coverage for up to 36 months. This includes the death of the covered employee, divorce, separation or annulment.

Adult children lose their dependent child status at age 26. They may use COBRA rights for 36 months to keep their parent’s health insurance plan.

How do dependents get started with COBRA?

Contact the plan administrator of your employer group health plan within 60 days of the qualifying event to get COBRA benefits. The plan administrator will provide you with information about your rights and how to enroll in COBRA. Once you enroll, you must pay the premiums in full, within 30 days, in order to maintain coverage.

COBRA Eligibility

Disability Gives You An 11 Month Extension

You may be eligible for COBRA and Social Security disability benefits. If so, COBRA coverage can be extended for 11 more months. This brings the total coverage to 29 months.

You must also let the plan administrator know about your disability within 60 days of your disability determination.

Additionally, the disability must have occurred within the first 60 days of your COBRA coverage. Your group health plan must provide disability extensions beyond the 18-month period. The premium cost may increase by 150% of the standard premium during the additional 11 months.

Communicating with the plan administrator is important. Understand the terms and eligibility requirements for extending COBRA benefits if you are disabled. This will ensure you have the best coverage.

Qualifying Events

The following chart specifies how long you may keep your workplace insurance through COBRA.

Qualifying COBRA Event ​Length of Continuation Coverage
​Reduction of Hours (resulting in loss of coverage) ​18 Months
​Voluntary Termination of Employment (quitting your job) ​18 Months
​Involuntary Termination of Employment (getting fired from job) ​18 Months
​Divorce, Annulment, Termination of Domestic Partnership, or Legal Separation ​36 Months
​Child ceases to be a Dependent (e.g. child turns 26) ​36 Months
​Death of Employee ​36 Months

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