Q.- A former employee’s COBRA qualifying event was termination of employment on January 1, 2013. The former employee provided a letter from the Social Security Administration on March 1, 2013 saying that his disability benefits from the SSA will begin May 2013. Is he entitled to extend the length of his COBRA coverage? I know he has to be disabled within the first 60 days of COBRA coverage, but the letter says his benefits will begin after the first 60 days of coverage.
A.- Under the disability extension rules, the maximum COBRA period can be extended to 29 months if (1) the qualifying event is termination of employment or reduction of hours, (2) the qualified beneficiary is determined under the Social Security Act to have been disabled at any time during the first 60 days of COBRA coverage (or before), and (3) the administrator is notified of the determination within 60 days after the latest of the date of the determination or the date of the qualifying event.
In this case, the continuant provided notice within 60 days of the qualifying event. After a disability application is approved by the Social Security Administration, the first benefit is not paid until the sixth full month after the SSA determines that the disability begins. While the former will not start receiving SSA disability benefits until May 2013, the individual must have been determined to be disabled approximately 6 months before this date. This would be around November 15, 2012. Therefore, the individual was disabled during the first 60 days of COBRA coverage.