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I Just Went On Disability - What Are My Health Coverage Options?

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Becoming disabled can be a life changing event. You have many health coverage questions, with some answers better than others. If you become disabled while on COBRA coverage, or are already disabled when you become qualified for COBRA coverage, you should be aware of your options.

The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) of 1985 provides for the continuation of group healthcare coverage that would otherwise be lost due to certain qualifying events such as job loss or reduction of work hours. Eligible qualified beneficiaries who elect COBRA continuation coverage may do so for anywhere from 18 months to 36 months, depending on the qualifying event and the beneficiary.

Disability COBRA Coverage Extension

If you or any one of your beneficiaries become disabled while you are on COBRA coverage, your entire family may be eligible to receive an additional 11 months of COBRA coverage, up to a maximum of 29 months. There are two requirements to be met. First, you must be officially determined disabled by the Social Security Administration (SSA) within 60 days of the start of your COBRA coverage. Second, your disability must continue through the entire 18 month initial COBRA coverage.

As beneficiary, you have the responsibility of notifying your health plan of your officially determined disability. The time limit for providing this notice to the plan can be no sooner than 60 days starting from the latest of: the day the SSA issues the disability determination; the date of your qualifying event; the date on which you would lose coverage because of a qualifying event; or the date on which you were informed of your responsibility to notify the plan. Once the plan is notified of the disability, they must provide you with an election notice which details your options for extending your coverage the additional 11 months.

It is important to note that becoming disabled is not in and of itself a qualifying event for COBRA continuation coverage. In order to qualify for an 11 month extension under COBRA you must already have COBRA coverage.

Different COBRA Coverage Premiums

During the disability extension, the plan is allowed to charge you up to 150% of the premium, so disability continuation coverage through COBRA is expensive. But it is not as expensive as some healthcare costs may be, so read your election notice closely and weigh your options carefully.

RedQuote Can Help!

RedQuote helps beneficiaries understand their COBRA plan benefits and can provide them with information about individual plan options and any changes they may experience due to disability.  We can help them choose the best plan for their age, budget and coverage preferences. If your company might be interested in hiring us to manage COBRA benefits for beneficiaries coming off your group medical plan, contact us today!

Published May 6, 2017.

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