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Qualifying Events Requiring COBRA

Reference Number: MTAS-896
Reviewed Date: 10/21/2022

The following list of qualifying events should trigger the COBRA notification process.

  • Death of a covered employee
  • Voluntary or involuntary termination of the covered employee’s employment (except for gross misconduct)
  • Reduction of hours worked by covered employee
  • Divorce or legal separation of the covered employee from the employee’s spouse
  • Employee’s entitlement to Medicare
  • A dependent child ceasing to be a dependent under the eligibility requirements (i.e., age, student status, marriage)
  • An employer’s bankruptcy

Second Qualifying Events
A second qualifying event is a qualifying event that occurs during the 18-month period following the date of any employee’s termination or reduction in hours. The beneficiary of that second qualifying event will be entitled to a total of 36 months of continued coverage. The period will be measured from the date of the loss of coverage caused by the first qualifying event.

According to direct information from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:

Second qualifying events may include the death of the covered employee, divorce or legal separation from the covered employee, the covered employee becoming entitled to Medicare benefits(under Part A, Part B or both), or a dependent child ceasing to be eligible for coverage as a dependent under the group health plan.

The following conditions must be met in order for a second event to extend a period of coverage

  1. The initial qualifying event is the covered employee’s termination or reduction of hours of employment, which calls for an 18-month period of continuation coverage
  2. The second event that gives rise to a 36-month maximum coverage period occurs during the initial 18-month period of continuation coverage (or within the 29-month period of coverage if a disability extension applies)
  3. The second event would have caused a qualified beneficiary to lose coverage under the plan in the absence of the initial qualifying event
  4. The individual was a qualified beneficiary in connection with the first qualifying event and is still a qualified beneficiary at the time of the second event
  5. The individual meets any applicable COBRA notice requirement in connection with a second event, such as notifying the plan administrator of a divorce, or a child ceasing to be a dependent under the plan within 60 days after the event.

If all conditions associated with a second qualifying event are met, the period of continuation coverage for the affected qualified beneficiary (or beneficiaries) is extended from 18 months (or 29 months) to 36 months.