Ask HealthHarbor: When do I need to use my flexible spending dollars by?
At a time when most people are focused on open enrollment for 2010, it is important to not forget about the 2009 benefits. One of the "use-it-or-lose-it" benefits is any remaining balance in your flexible spending account, or FSA. While not every company runs on a January - December benefits year, many if not most do, making this an important time of year.
If you benefit year ends on December 31 (your HR department can tell you for sure, or you can glance at the expiration date on your insurance card), there are two dates you need to keep in mind regarding your current year FSA. First, any expenses that you plan to run through your FSA need to be incurred by December 31. That means that your current year FSA will cover a procedure done on December 31, but not on January 1. Any explanation of benefits or claim form needs to show a 2009 date of service.
As for submitting the expense to your FSA for reimbursement, a "grace period" after the plan year ends allows you to submit receipts and EOBs for a period of time into the following year. Most plans give you 90 to 120 days to wrap up any loose ends around your FSA. For plan years ending December 31, an April 30 cutoff is common for submitting your final reimbursement requests.