On April 15, 2010, President Obama signed the Continuing Extension Act of 2010 ("CEA") which extends the deadline for COBRA premium subsidies to May 31, 2010 and federal unemployment benefits until June 2, 2010.
The CEA follows last month’s approval of the Temporary Extension Act of 2010, which extended until March 31, 2010 eligibility for the COBRA subsidy that was enacted as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Summary of COBRA Provisions of the 2009 Stimulus Package. The CEA provides an additional two-month extension of the date by which the involuntary termination of employment has to occur in order for the individual to be eligible for the COBRA subsidy. The CEA does not extend the maximum period that the COBRA subsidy is available -- the maximum period remains at 15 months.
The CEA also affects federal unemployment extension benefits, which provide further income support to eligible unemployed workers who have been out of work for a long period of time. Federal unemployment benefits kick in after state benefits expire. Although this program had lapsed in early April 2010, Congress extended the deadline for additional benefits through June 2, 2010.
It is worth noting that President Obama has urged Congress to extend these programs through the end of the year, so there may be further extensions of both deadlines in the future. We will keep you apprised of any new developments. Also, watch the Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration COBRA webpage at http://www.dol.gov/COBRA for further updates regarding the COBRA subsidy.