dependent continuation under COBRA post-death

New experience for me, so any guidance/advice is appreciated.

Employee retired due to terminal cancer and elected COBRA for herself and spouse. Employee has now died. I THINK the spouse can elect to continue coverage under the same conditions for the remainder of original coverage plus an additional 11 months because of a second qualifying event (death of primary insured). Am I correct? Do I now need to inform the dependent spouse directly of his options, or should those options have been adequately explained with the notice(s) sent out at time of original eligibility? Do I now need his signature to continue that coverage on himself?


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  • Send him another set of paperwork. He needs to be given the option of electing COBRA for himself. He should be given antother 18 months, not 11. The eleven month extension is only in the event of a disability determination during the initial 18 months. This is a second qualifying event so he would receive the full 18 months of coverage.
  • Do I understand that we now need to treat him as a regular COBRA participant (like HE is the ex-employee), and he became independently eligible as of his spouse's death.
  • I pulled out the regs and perused them carefully (how 'bout some redundancy first thing in the morning?). The surviving spouse is eligible for 36 months (18 + 18) of continuation coverage, but any time already spent in COBRA counts toward that total amount. So they started COBRA October 1, 2005; he now can carry it through September 2008. The insurance company has directed me to have him complete a new election form with himself as the participant. And yes, he gets the whole set of paperwork.

    COBRA is bad enough during a regular working day. Can you imagine trying to wade through all of this for the first time while grieving the death of a spouse of 45 years who had always handled this stuff for you? I'm going the extra step and try to meet with this man in person.
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