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Employee Benefits

Health-Care Subsidy for the Unemployed

Get extra help with COBRA coverage.

Most people who lose their job can keep their former employer's health-insurance coverage through a federal law called COBRA, but they must pay steep premiums. The stimulus provides a 65% subsidy to help cover COBRA costs for up to nine months.

To qualify, you must be laid off anytime from September 1, 2008, through December 31, 2009. Contact your former employer to get the subsidy; you'll then pay 35% of the premium, and your former employer will pay the remaining 65%. If you were laid off in September or later but didn't originally elect COBRA, you'll have a second chance to sign up. The subsidy ends if you find a job and your new employer offers health-care coverage or if you become eligible for Medicare.

The new law, however, does not extend COBRA eligibility. You can qualify for COBRA health benefits for up to 18 months after you leave your job, no matter when you start receiving the subsidy. The law applies only to firms with 20 or more employees and doesn't apply if the company stops offering health coverage entirely.

See More From the Stimulus Guide

The New Stimulus Tax Credit

This tax break puts up to $400 in your pocket.


New Car Sales-Tax Deduction

Car buyers have till the end of the year to grab this above-the-line deduction.

Better Benefits for the Unemployed

Qualified filers get an extra $25 a week.


New Homebuyer Credit

Take up to 10% off your purchase price.

AMT Tax Relief

Taxpayers get a one-year fix on the alternative minimum tax.


College Aid Gets Fresh Funding

Rather than introduce big new ideas, this bill mostly replenishes underfunded programs and increases amounts available to families.