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Q. My son was laid off from his job in April 2009. Does he still benefit from the new extension for COBRA subsidies? S.V., Houston

A. Yes. A new defense appropriations law—the Defense Appropriations Act of 2010—expands the maximum coverage under the COBRA subsidy program by six months from nine months to a total of 15 months. Therefore, assuming your son otherwise qualifies, he can continue to pay the reduced 35% premium for 15 months. The ex-employer must pay the 65% subsidy, but it can recover the costs from the government via payroll tax credits.

The new law also extends coverage to workers “involuntarily terminated” in either of the first two months this year.

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