HR Alert

New Expiration Date for COBRA General and Election Notices is November 30, 2016

Model Notices Previously Set to Expire on October 31, 2016

The U.S. Department of Labor has extended the effective date of its model General Notice of COBRA Rights and COBRA Election Notice through November 30, 2016. Previously, these model notices were set to expire on October 31, 2016.

COBRA Notice Requirements
Under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA), group health plans sponsored by employers with 20 or more employees in the prior year must provide covered employees and dependents with specific notices explaining their COBRA rights. First, when coverage starts under a group health plan, the plan must provide a general notice describing COBRA rights to the employee and his or her spouse who become covered under the plan. This general notice must be provided within the first 90 days of coverage. Notably, this requirement can be satisfied by including the general notice in the plan's SPD and giving the SPD to the covered employee and his or her spouse within the first 90 days of coverage.

After receiving notice of a COBRA qualifying event, the plan must also provide qualified beneficiaries with an election notice, which describes the beneficiaries' rights to COBRA continuation coverage and how to make an election. The election notice must be provided in person or by first-class mail within 14 days after the plan administrator receives the notice of a qualifying event. If the employer is also the plan administrator, this notice must be provided not later than 44 days after:

  • The date the qualifying event occurred; or
  • The date of loss of coverage due to the qualifying event (if the plan provides that COBRA coverage starts on the date of loss of coverage).

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