Disability and COBRA Continuation
May 28, 2012
First, let me extend my appreciation and admiration for your work here. Your answers to our questions are thorough, intelligent, and very informative. You're really quite an asset to The Body and inspiration to all of us who have had to deal with workplace and insurance issues. Your recent response regarding disability and COBRA insurance sent me for a bit of a spin, though. I received my approval for SSDI in February 2012. Shortly afterwards, I called the benefits provider (Hewitt) for my former employer and requested an extension based on my disability status. I was told that I was eligible for an extension of my COBRA benefits only if my disability occurred within 60 days of a qualifying event. In my case, the last qualifying event was my separation from the company, which took place in March 2011, and therefore, regardless of my newly established disability status, there was too much of a gap between my qualifying event and the establishment of my disability. In sum, I was not eligible for a continuation of COBRA benefits beyond the required 18 months. Does it seem to you that I was given the correct information by the Hewitt representative?
Response from Mr. Chambers
Unfortunately, they are probably correct. The COBRA extension also requires that the Onset Date established by Social Security must be before or within 60 days after the qualifying event that triggered the COBRA.
While the Disability Extension of COBRA can be helpful, there's several hoops that have to be jumped through to qualify which are not easily understood or well publicized.
One of the difficulties I have answering questions is knowing how deeply I need to go in the regulations. Too much can be overload. In some cases, as in this instance, I don't go far enough.
Thank you for your kind words. Jacques
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