Furloughed members: FAQs about medical benefits

Published: February 24, 2016

Last updated on May 7th, 2018

Members who have been furloughed should be aware that their health care coverage benefits from their employer extend through the end of the fourth month after being furloughed. Below are Frequently Asked Questions that may be useful to furloughed members.

Q: How long does my insurance coverage last if I am furloughed?
A: Employee and eligible dependent coverage extends through the end of the fourth month following the month in which you last render compensated service. For example, an employee last rendering compensated service in January, who is then furloughed in February, will have coverage through the end of May.

Q: Will vacation pay extend coverage beyond four months?
A: With regard to furlough, no.

Q: Will I be able to continue coverage under COBRA when coverage for me and/or my dependents end?
A: The COBRA eligibility period (18, 29 or 36 months) is measured from the date of the “qualifying event.” For the health and welfare plans, the “qualifying event” is the date you last worked, NOT the date your coverage ends.

The COBRA eligibility period, therefore, runs concurrently with the extended coverage as stated above so that COBRA continuation is available for the remaining months, if any, after the extended coverage ends.

For example: An employee is furloughed in January and coverage extends through May. COBRA continuation is available beginning June 1 and thereafter for an additional 13 months. In these circumstances, no more than 18 months of COBRA is available, less the five months during which the employee remained covered by the Plan after the qualifying event in January.

Q: How will I be notified that COBRA is available to me and/or my dependents?
A: When the railroad reports an employee as not being eligible for benefits, a COBRA notice is automatically sent to the employee’s address of record. The form must be completed and returned to UnitedHealthcare in a timely manner in order to establish COBRA coverage.


For other benefits that furloughed members may be eligible for click on the following links:




It should be noted by all furloughed members that it is your responsibility to keep your contact information up to date with your employer and with your union. This includes your phone number, mailing address and email address.

Your employer will need correct contact information to call you back to work. Many SMART TD legislative boards and locals hold informational sessions for furloughed workers and need your correct contact information to keep you informed.

To update your phone number or address call your local officers or call SMART TD headquarters at 216-228-9400 ext. 3908. You may update your address electronically with the union here or by clicking on the “Address Change” button on the right side of the home page.