IRS Notice 2021-58 – COBRA Election Period and Premium Grace Period Extensions due to COVID-19

Please be advised that any and all information, comments, analysis, and/or recommendations set forth above relative to the possible impact of COVID-19 on potential insurance coverage or other policy implications are intended solely for informational purposes and should not be relied upon as legal or medical advice. As an insurance broker, we have no authority to make coverage decisions as that ability rests solely with the issuing carrier. Therefore, all claims should be submitted to the carrier for evaluation. The positions expressed herein are opinions only and are not to be construed as any form of guarantee or warranty. Finally, given the extremely dynamic and rapidly evolving COVID-19 situation, comments above do not take into account any applicable pending or future legislation introduced with the intent to override, alter or amend current policy language.


On October 6, 2021, the IRS released Notice 2021-58, which clarifies the application of COBRA election period and premium grace period timeframe extensions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As first outlined in a May 4, 2020, Joint Notice issued by the Department of Labor, Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service (the “Joint Notice”), the Departments extended certain deadlines under HIPAA, COBRA and ERISA effective March 1, 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The COBRA timelines subject to this extension include the 60-day election period window, the deadlines for making COBRA premium payments, the date for individuals to notify the plan of a qualifying event or disability determination, and the date for providing a COBRA election notice.

EBSA’s Disaster Relief Notice 2021-01 clarified that, under the Joint Notice, the affected timelines were to be “paused” by disregarding the applicable deadline until the earlier of 1) one year from the date on which the individual was first eligible for the relief, or 2) the end of the Outbreak Period (60 days after the announced end of the National Emergency). At the end of the disregarded period, the applicable timelines are to resume.

Notice 2021-58 “clarifies that the disregarded period for an individual to elect COBRA continuation coverage and the disregarded period for the individual to make initial and subsequent COBRA premium payments generally run concurrently.”  Accordingly, “individuals who delay electing COBRA may not have more than one year of total disregarded time for the COBRA election and initial COBRA payment.”

Notice 2021-58 provides the following guidelines to help illustrate how the extension impacts COBRA premium payments during the Outbreak Period:

  • If an individual elected COBRA continuation coverage outside of the initial 60-day COBRA election timeframe (as allowed under the Joint Notice), that individual generally will have one year and 105 days after the date the COBRA notice was provided to make the initial COBRA premium payment.
  • If an individual elected COBRA continuation coverage within the initial 60-day COBRA election timeframe, that individual will have one year and 45 days after the date of the COBRA election to make the initial COBRA premium payment.
  • For subsequent COBRA premium payments, the maximum time available to a qualified beneficiary to make the payment during the Outbreak Period is one year from the date the premium payment would have been due in the absence of the relief provided under the Joint Notice.

To account for individuals who may have relied on the initial premium deadline extension to start on the date of the COBRA election (rather than run concurrently), the notice provides a limited exception to the above-mentioned rule. The exception provides that “no individual [can] be required to make the initial premium payment before November 1, 2021, even if November 1, 2021 is more than one year and 105 days after the date the election notice was received, provided that the individual makes the initial premium payment within one year and 45 days after the date of the election.”

We have selected several examples below to illustrate these clarifications.  For more examples, please review Notice 2021-58.


Please be advised that any and all information, comments, analysis, and/or recommendations set forth above relative to the possible impact of COVID-19 on potential insurance coverage or other policy implications are intended solely for informational purposes and should not be relied upon as legal or medical advice. As an insurance broker, we have no authority to make coverage decisions as that ability rests solely with the issuing carrier. Therefore, all claims should be submitted to the carrier for evaluation. The positions expressed herein are opinions only and are not to be construed as any form of guarantee or warranty. Finally, given the extremely dynamic and rapidly evolving COVID-19 situation, comments above do not take into account any applicable pending or future legislation introduced with the intent to override, alter or amend current policy language.


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