New COBRA Benefits/Help for Laid Off Workers

If you were laid off from your job, and have the chance to elect or continue COBRA benefits, please know that a new law was passed which could possibly provide you with federal subsidy money (paid via a tax credit) that would pay for 65% of several months of COBRA costs, leaving you responsible for 35% of those (usually high) costs as compared to 100%.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), “If you were offered Federal COBRA continuation coverage as a result of an involuntary termination of employment that occurred at any time from September 1, 2008 through February 16, 2009, and you declined to take COBRA at that time, or elected COBRA and later discontinued it, you may have another opportunity to elect COBRA coverage and pay a reduced premium.”

Please know there are several specific and detailed eligibility rules to get the new COBRA subsidy, so the purpose of this post is not to tell you that the COBRA subsidy money is guaranteed for your situation.  Rather, this is a heads up that the COBRA subsidy may be available, depending on a laid off worker’s circumstances, and as such is worth you looking into.

As a first matter, you can review information about the new COBRA benefit at this web page of the Department of Labor (DOL), which describes general information about the COBRA subsidy benefit.  From this web page, you can link to more specific information, such as DOL “Fact Sheets” for employees and employers, FAQs, etc.

DOL describes specific employee-eligibility requirements (e.g. required date range that layoff occurred, required formwork, etc.) at this web page.  DOL has answers to employee FAQs here.

Once you have read information from DOL, if you think your situation is such you may be eligible  in the COBRA subsidy, you could then contact the COBRA administrator as identified by your employer (usually, the employer will list a COBRA contact/phone number in its employee handbook, mailed COBRA materials, or other sources).

If you contact the COBRA administrator, they should be familiar with the new COBRA subsidy, whether you are eligible and if it can be applied to your specific situation, what you’d need to do, what your deadline(s) are, and how payments and COBRA benefits would work.

I wish you the best of luck, and hope the COBRA subsidy is of great assistance to many laid off employees.

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Filed under Employee Tip - Unemployment

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