Q & A – When does COBRA coverage last 36 months?

Q. When does COBRA coverage last 36 months?

A.  Spouses and dependent children covered by the group health plan may continue their coverage up to 36 months for the following qualifying events:

The death of the covered employee.

Divorce or legal separation from the covered employee.

The covered employee becomes entitled to Medicare.

The child ceases to be a dependent under the provisions of the group health plan.

If any of the above qualifying events occurs during the 18-month period, the continuation period for the spouse and dependent children is extended to 36 months from the date of the first qualifying event (i.e., the covered employee’s termination or reduction of hours).  Except for rare circumstances involving the employer’s bankruptcy, the maximum duration for COBRA continuation is 36 months.