Disaster Relief, the Outbreak Period and COBRA
Starting last March when the COVID-19 pandemic began, there were updates made to COBRA to better support people who became unemployed during the pandemic. These extensions officially went into effect on March 1, 2020 and will last until the end of the “Outbreak Period,” which is the length of the pandemic plus 60 days after the COVID-19 National emergency ends.
In February of 2021, the Department of Labor released additional guidance on the Continuation of Relief for Employee Benefit Plans and Plan Participants and Beneficiaries due to the COVID-19 Outbreak -- Disaster Relief Notice 2021-01. The guidance states the “Outbreak Period” extension, which commenced March 1, 2020, is limited by law to a period of 1 year from the date of the individual action, or until the end of the Outbreak Period, whichever period is shorter. So what does this mean for COBRA benefits?