2014 Benelect Guide - Spending Account

The purpose of this guide (print pdf version) is to provide you with an overview of Benelect, the flexible benefits program at CWRU. This is not intended to be a comprehensive description of the benefit plans. Details of individual benefit plans are provided in legal plan documents and contracts that govern the operation of the program. Specific coverage information is contained in the individual summary plan descriptions available from the medical insurance carrier or Benefits Administration. Employees are responsible for selecting and using their benefits prudently and in the most cost-effective manner.

Flexible Spending Accounts

Spending accounts are governed by Internal Revenue Service rules. Please refer to IRS guidelines for specifics. In addition, the IRS says that any unspent balance at the end of the year must be forfeited. This "Use or Lose" rule is the trade-off for the tax advantages you enjoy by using the accounts. In addition, if you terminate your participation in a spending account, only expenses incurred prior to the termination date can be considered for reimbursement. Since this account is to be used for predictable expenses, careful planning should help you avoid any forfeiture. Any money forfeited at the end of the year will be used to offset the costs of administering Benelect. The account can reimburse expenses for legal dependents, but does not recognize spouse-equivalent status, therefore, you cannot be reimbursed for a domestic partner's health care expenses. By law, spending account balances do not earn interest.

Grace Period

The grace period is an extended period of coverage at the end of the plan year that allows you extra time to incur expenses to use your remaining balance after the close of the plan year. The grace period's duration is two and one-half months. What this means for you is that you have until March 15, 2014 to incur expenses against your 2013 health care and/or dependent care FSA annual elections. All claims submitted for services provided during the grace period will automatically be processed first against the prior plan year's FSA balance. If your claims exceed the available funds from the previous plan year, any excess will be automatically applied to your 2014 FSA elections.

HEALTH CARE Spending Account

Effective January 1, 2013, the maximum annual contribution to a health care flexible spending account is $2,500.

To help you pay for a number of predictable out-of-pocket medical and dental expenses for you and your family, the university provides you with a voluntary spending account. You can make before-tax deposits to your health care account (from $10-$208/month), then reimburse yourself for certain expected expenses, tax free. Your deposit amount cannot be changed, stopped, or started during the year, except for a change in the deposit amount that is on account of and corresponds to a documented change in family or job status. The change in deposit amount must be consistent with the change in family or job status.

Below are examples of medical care services, equipment, and supplies that may be considered eligible health care expenses. Please note that each claim for reimbursement is reviewed individually in accordance with applicable law and the Benelect plan. Beginning January 1, 2011, over-the-counter drugs obtained without a prescription are not eligible for reimbursement.

   
  • Abortion
  • Acupuncture
  • Alcoholism (treatment for)
  • Ambulance
  • Artificial limbs
  • Birth control pills
  • Braille books, magazines
  • Car with special hand controls or other equipment for use by a handicapped person
  • Christian Science practitioners
  • Chiropractors
  • Co-insurance
  • Contact lenses
  • Crutches
  • Deductible
  • Dental treatments
  • Drug addiction (treatment for)
  • Eyeglasses
  • Guide dog
  • Health club for medical reasons prescribed by a doctor
  • Hearing care/aids
  • Hospital Services
  • Laboratory fees
  • Laetrile
  • Learning disability (treatment for)
  • Legal fees paid to authorize treatment for mental illness
  • Lifetime care (advance payment for a physically or mentally handicapped dependent if you should die or become unable to provide care)
  • Medicine
  • Nursing homes (for medical reasons only)
  • Nursing services
  • Over-the-counter drugs if prescribed by doctor
  • Oxygen
  • Psychiatric care
  • Psychoanalysis
  • School for a mentally or physically handicapped person
  • Special telephone for a deaf person
  • Special television for a deaf person
  • Sterilization
  • Surgery
  • Therapy
  • Transplants
  • Vision care
  • Wheelchair
  • X-ray fees

In February 2011, the IRS concluded that breast pumps and supplies that assist lactation will qualify as medical case expenses. Read about the new guidelines (pdf).

Insurance premiums cannot be reimbursed through this account. If you have a question about whether or not an expense is reimbursable, please contact the third party administrator, Meritain Health at 1-877-801-1500. For expenses incurred in a given calendar year, you have until June 30 of the following year to have your claims for reimbursement processed.

Claims for reimbursement must total at least $50 and are processed weekly by Meritain. You will receive an account statement each time you are reimbursed. Meritain Reimbursement Request Form (pdf) . Mail the completed claim form with your receipts to Meritain Health at the address listed on the form.

Use your Benny™ Prepaid Master Card® to pay for qualifying medical expenses. WAIT, don't throw away your receipts! View important information from Meritain (pdf) about using your prepaid benefits card. Please note that if you use your debit card to pay for expenses during the FSA grace period (January 1 - March 15), the purchase will be appled towards your new plan year balance. FSA debit card purchases during the grace period cannot be charged to the balance from the previous plan year.

DEPENDENT CARE Spending Account

You can use a Dependent Care Spending Account to make before-tax deposits (from $10-$416 per month), to be reimbursed for expenses incurred for care of your children or certain qualifying adults. If you and your spouse file separate tax returns or your spouse uses a separate dependent care spending account, the most you may deposit in your dependent care spending account is $208 per month ($2,500 per year). Print the Meritain Reimbursement Request Form (pdf). Mail the completed claim form with your receipts to Meritain Health at the address listed on the form.

Expenses for these qualifying family members are eligible for reimbursement:

  • Children under age 13 who qualify as dependents on your federal income tax return. (This IRS-regulated account does not recognize spouse equivalent status, therefore, you cannot be reimbursed for dependent care expenses for children of domestic partners.)
  • Other qualifying family members who are physically or mentally incapable of caring for themselves (such as a parent whom you support) and who qualify as dependents on your tax return.

The care must be necessary so that you and your spouse (if you are married) can work, actively look for work, or attend school full time. Care can be given in a private home (including yours) or in a day care center. Overnight camp expenses are not reimbursable. Homes and centers caring for more than six people must meet state and local license requirements. For expenses to be reimbursed, care cannot be given by anyone you claim as a dependent on your tax return. You can be reimbursed for expenses paid to a relative age 19 or older if you do not claim the person as a dependent. You must submit a receipt from your caregiver, showing the caregiver's taxpayer ID. Any amount deposited in your dependent care spending account will be reported on your W-2 form at the end of the year.

Claims for reimbursement must total at least $50 and are processed weekly by a third party administrator, Meritain Health. You will receive an account statement each time you are reimbursed. For expenses incurred in a given calendar year, you have until June 30 of the following year to have your claims for reimbursement processed.

Life Event Changes

If your family or job status changes, for reasons specified in IRS regulations, you can start or stop a Dependent Care Spending Account, and under certain circumstances you can change the amount of the deposit. An account can be stopped or started, or the deposit amount can be changed only if the change is consistent with the change in family or job status. For more information, please refer to the summary of permissible life event changes in the Benelect Guide.

Print the Benelect Change of Status Form (pdf).

Federal Tax Credit

If you have dependent care expenses, you may be eligible for a tax credit on your federal income tax return. You cannot apply the same expenses to both a spending account and the tax credit, however. In general, if your annual family income is $24,000 or more, you probably will have more savings through the spending account. Your particular situation (and your possible eligibility for an earned income tax credit) will determine which method is better for you. You will need to choose which tax-saving method makes more sense for your family. By law, spending account balances do not earn interest. Money deposited in the health care spending account cannot be used for dependent care expenses, and vice versa.