Survivor Health Benefits Policy

Continuation of Health/Dental/Vision Benefits
For Surviving Dependents of Active Employees
Revised as of 8/2/2021

When an active employee dies, coverage for the surviving spouse and eligible dependent children under Washington University’s health, dental and vision plans may continue for a period of up to three years in accordance with federal COBRA regulations. This policy establishes guidelines for continuation of coverage of surviving spouses and eligible dependent children under the university’s health, dental and vision plans beyond that which is required under federal COBRA regulations.

Death of employee who does not meet the eligibility requirements for retiree benefits as of the date of death (i.e., at least age 55, 5 years of consecutive benefits-eligible service at 50% full-time equivalent or more and meets the rule of 65):

  1. If the surviving spouse is under the age of 65 as of the employee’s date of death, the surviving spouse and eligible dependent children who were covered under the health, dental and/or vision plans as of the date of death will be eligible for continuation coverage under COBRA for up to 36 months in accordance with federal COBRA regulations. The cost for the first 12 months of COBRA coverage will be at the applicable active employee rates based on the employee’s base salary and full-time or part-time status as of the day before the date of death. Thereafter, the cost will be the full COBRA cost.
  2. If the surviving spouse is age 65 or older as of the employee’s date of death, coverage under the health, dental and/or vision plans will end as of the last day of the month in which the death occurs. The surviving spouse will be eligible to elect to continue dental and/or vision coverage under COBRA for up to 36 months in accordance with federal COBRA regulations. The cost for the first 12 months of COBRA coverage will be at the applicable active employee rates based on the employee’s base salary and full-time or part-time status as of the day before the date of death. Thereafter, the cost will be the full COBRA cost. Any eligible dependent children who were covered under the health, dental and vision plans as of the date of death, will be eligible for continuation coverage under COBRA for up to 36 months in accordance with federal COBRA regulations. The cost for the first 12 months of COBRA coverage will be at the applicable active employee rates based on the employee’s base salary and full-time or part-time status as of the day before the date of death. Thereafter, the cost will be the full COBRA cost.
  3. If there is no surviving spouse but there are surviving eligible dependent children as of the employee’s date of death, the surviving children who were covered under the health, dental and/or vision plans as of the date of death will be eligible for continuation coverage under COBRA for up to 36 months in accordance with federal COBRA regulations. The cost for the first 12 months of COBRA coverage will be at the applicable active employee rates based on the employee’s base salary and full-time or part-time status as of the day before the date of death. Thereafter, the cost will be the full COBRA cost.

Death of employee who meets eligibility requirements for retiree benefits as of the date of death (i.e., at least age 55, 5 years of consecutive benefits-eligible service at 50% full-time equivalent or more and meets the rule of 65): 

  1. If the surviving spouse is under the age of 65 as of the employee’s date of death, the surviving spouse and eligible dependent children who were covered under the health, dental and/or vision plans as of the date of death will be eligible for continuation coverage under COBRA for up to 36 months in accordance with federal COBRA regulations. The cost for the first 12 months of COBRA coverage will be at the applicable active employee rates based on the employee’s base salary and full-time or part-time status as of the day before the date of death. Thereafter, the cost will be the full COBRA cost. The surviving spouse may enroll in the University’s retiree health, dental and/or vision plans at the expiration of the federal COBRA continuation period, during an Open Enrollment period, or as a result of a qualifying event (e.g., loss of other coverage). The surviving spouse may also cover eligible dependent children of the deceased employee under the University’s retiree health, dental and vision plans.
  2. If the surviving spouse is age 65 or older as of the employee’s date of death, the surviving spouse who was covered under the health, dental and/or vision plans as of the date of death may enroll in the University’s retiree health, dental and/or vision plans. Any eligible dependent children you were covered as of the date of death, will be eligible for continuation coverage under COBRA for up to 36 months in accordance with federal COBRA regulations. The cost for the first 12 months of COBRA coverage will be at the applicable active employee rates based on the employee’s base salary and full-time or part-time status as of the day before the date of death. Thereafter, the cost will be the full COBRA cost. The surviving spouse may also cover eligible dependent children of the deceased employee under the University’s retiree health, dental and vision plans.
  3. If there is no surviving spouse but there are surviving eligible dependent children as of the employee’s date of death, the surviving children who were covered under the health, dental and/or vision plans as of the date of death will be eligible for continuation coverage under COBRA for up to 36 months in accordance with federal COBRA regulations. The cost for the first 12 months of COBRA coverage will be at the applicable active employee rates based on the employee’s base salary and full-time or part-time status as of the day before the date of death. Thereafter, the cost will be the full COBRA cost.