It’s your money. It’s your hard-earned, pretax dollars sitting in an account. It’s yours … but only for a limited amount of time. That’s the gift and the curse of a Flexible Spending Account (FSA). In most cases, your time is up at the end of the calendar year and your contributed dollars are gone – just like that. (No, you do not get it back!)
As the deadline looms for most FSAs, now is the time to start draining your account to reimburse yourself for qualified medical expenses such as co-pays, co-insurance, deductibles, prescription drugs, eye glasses, contacts, dental care, and medical supplies. But before you scramble to spend your FSA money on laser surgery or a massage, make sure you have claimed all the eligible expenses you've already incurred. You may have overlooked services and products that you have made payment for; double-check medical receipts to make sure they haven’t forgotten to submit any claims for reimbursement. The 2017 FSA contribution limit is $2,600; unlike a Health Spending Account (HSA) where remaining funds can remain in your account indefinitely, your FSA balance must be spent in the year it was contributed.
You’d be surprised at the items that are FSA eligible. Some over-the-counter products, such as sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher, adhesive bandages, a breast pump, reading glasses, first-aid kits, a blood-pressure monitor, prenatal vitamins, and a portable baby monitor. Review the list of eligible items, both those that do and those that do not require a doctor’s prescription, at the FSA Store.
Your FSA funds likely cover more than you realize, so if you have to use them up by the deadline, get creative. Since the money used to fund your FSA is pretax – taken from your paycheck before taxes are deducted – you save not only the federal taxes you would have paid but your Social Security and Medicare taxes as well! Here’s a tax-free toast to your health!