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Know the COBRA notice deadlines

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in Small Business Tax

Q: My wife was just laid off from her job. She was told she'd receive a package in the mail about COBRA health insurance. It's been more than a week, and it hasn't arrived. Is this breaking the law? K.B., Hillsborough, N.J.?

A: No. A group health plan has 14 days after receiving notice from the employer about an employee's "qualifying event"—in her case, the layoff—to provide you with a COBRA election notice. If the employer is also the plan administrator, it technically has 44 days (30 days after the 14-day period is up) to provide the election notice. Since the law is a bit murky, most plan administrators make it their business to provide notification sooner. Key point: She has 60 days to decide to elect COBRA coverage. That 60-day period starts on the later of these two events: the date of coverage loss or the date you received COBRA notification.

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