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What To Do If You Miss COBRA Deadlines

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If you miss a deadline, it's worth trying to fix the situation.

If you're late in providing the Social Security Award Letter to the Plan Administrator:

  • If you didn't get your Social Security disability award letter to the employer on time, consider calling the employer Human Relations department or person. Before the call, prepare how to explain the delay -- hopefully due to specific things that happened, or didn't happen, at Social Security. Start the conversation by saying something like: "I have heard that because I'm disabled, that I can extend my COBRA for another eleven months. How do I do that?" Many employers don't know the rules, and even if they do, there have been employers who will extend the coverage with nothing more than a phone call. You are not likely to find flexibility or ignorance of the law from a professional COBRA administrator -- but it's still worth the call.
  • If you get resistance, you can fall back on why Social Security delayed the situation.
  • If all else fails, remind the person as a human being about your health condition.
  • If you still get a no, try speaking with a supervisor. State your case, especially what you're going through. Rules can be waived if the right person wants to waive them.

Late Premium Payment:

  • Either mail the payment or, if the payment goes to the employer, consider delivering it personally. If the payment is accepted, your coverage will continue. If you deliver the payment personally to the employer (and get a written receipt) they may find it harder to tell you face-to-face that your coverage is ended -- especially if you precede handing over the check with an update about the medical problems you're having. Hopefully the employer will be lenient and try to work with you.

Late Notifying About A Change in Status of Your Spouse or Dependent:

  • If it happens, explain to your employer the reason for your delay and ask the employer to help you get the situation corrected. The longer you have been with the employer and the more valuable you are to the employer, the more likely you'll get a "yes." 
  • Keep in mind that unless your spouse or child is ill, their presence on the employer's plan is not likely to have a negative impact financially.

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