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Published on Sep 8
As we head into the final quarter of 2021, now is a perfect time for participants to take stock of their Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs), especially those whose plan year ends on December 31. With all of the changes made to these accounts over the last 18 months, it’s important to understand exactly how your plan works, what you can use your funds on, and when they expire. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your FSA.
Review Your Plan Details
Hardly any two FSAs are exactly alike. Knowing how your company’s plan is set up is key to ensuring you don’t miss important deadlines or cutoff dates. Most plans provide extensions or provisions that help prevent participants from losing money. These include:
- Claims Run-Out Period: Provides a set amount of time after a plan year ends, typically 90 days, to file claims and receive reimbursement for eligible expenses. For plan years ending on December 31, the claims cut-off date would be March 31.
- Grace Period (2.5 Month Extension): Gives participants an additional two and a half months after the plan year ends to incur eligible expenses and spend unused funds. For plan years ending on December 31, the grace period would typically end on March 15.
- Rollover/Carryover: Allows participants to carry over up to $550 in unused funds into the next plan year.
- Pandemic-Related Provisions: Additional extension options may be available to you through accommodations provided by the Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA) or other relief legislation. Employers were not required to adopt these measures. It’s important to check with your HR team to determine which, if any, are available to you.
Stock Up on the Essentials
One permanent change to come out of this past year’s rapid-fire relief legislation is the inclusion of over-the-counter (OTC) medicines and feminine care products as FSA-eligible items. Combine these items with other previously covered ones, and participants should have no trouble finding ways to spend their remaining funds. Here are some of our suggestions for common items you can stock up on:
- Allergy & Sinus Medication
- Bandages & Band-Aids
- Cold & Flu Medicine
- Contact Lenses & Supplies
- Eyeglasses & Reading Glasses
- First Aid Supplies
- Hot & Cold Packs
- Sunglasses (Prescription)
Schedule Those Appointments
It’s not a secret – no one really likes going to the doctor. The poking, the prodding, the smell… most people avoid it for as long as they can. Financial difficulties, virus concerns, and office closures have only added to this trend. For FSA participants though, knocking out those appointments is a great way to spend unused funds.
Keep in mind that your FSA funds can be used for your spouse and your dependent(s) as well. Do you have a spouse that’s been steadily scooting closer and closer to the TV? Get them to the eye doctor. Are your kids going to be earning those scholarships on the field? Schedule those sports physicals.
Avoid the Last-Minute Scramble
Whether it’s your first time participating in an FSA, or you’re a seasoned veteran, spending a few minutes evaluating the status of your account will pay off in the end. You will likely receive multiple notifications from your employer and your plan administrator but being proactive now will ensure you’re not left scrambling to spend hundreds of dollars just days before the plan deadline.
Although we’ve outlined a handful of ideas above, you can explore a more complete list of eligible items and services by visiting our partner, the FSAstore, here.
Plan Administration You Can Trust
Selecting the most effective benefit plans for your company and employees can be a daunting task. Sheakley’s benefit specialists provide expertise and experience to ensure you provide the most simple, efficient, and successful programs to your employees.
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