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Monday, March 15, 2010

COBRA Continuation Coverage Assistance under ARRA














Alabama at Work
By Tommy Eden, Attorney

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), as amended on March 2, 2010 by the Temporary Extension Act of 2010, provides for premium reductions for health benefits under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985, commonly called COBRA. Eligible individuals pay only 35 percent of their COBRA premiums and the remaining 65 percent is reimbursed to the coverage provider through a tax credit. To qualify, individuals must experience a COBRA qualifying event that is the involuntary termination of a covered employee's employment. The involuntary termination must generally occur during the period that began September 1, 2008 and ends on March 31, 2010. (An involuntary termination of employment that occurs on or after March 2, 2010 but by March 31, 2010 and follows a qualifying event that was a reduction of hours that occurred at any time from September 1, 2008 through March 31, 2010 is also a qualifying event for purposes of ARRA.) The premium reduction applies to periods of health coverage that began on or after February 17, 2009 and lasts for up to 15 months.

Common Sense Counsel: The Department of Labor's Employee Benefits Security Administration has posted on the COBRA web page an updated COBRA Premium Reduction fact sheet and updated forms reflecting the Temporary Extension Act of 2010. The updated fact sheet is available at http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/cobra.html
Make sure you are using the right forms to avoid costly penalties of $110 a day for non-compliance.


Tommy Eden is a Lee County native, an attorney with the local office of Constangy, Brooks & Smith, LLP and a member of the ABA Section of Labor and Employment Law and serves on the Board of Directors for the East Alabama SHRM Chapter. He can be contacted at teden@constangy.com or 334-246-2901. Blog at www.alabamaatwork.com