Open Enrollment 2015: With your FSA

It's almost time for open enrollment 2015 season! During this special time-frame at work, you'll be able to make changes to your employee benefits options, or keep the same benefits you already have.

Eight things to keep in mind ahead of open enrollment 2015:

1. Learn about qualifying events. If you've had a qualifying life-changing event during the year, you could change contribution amounts to your Flexible Spending Account (FSA) for the upcoming plan year. These "events" are lifestyle changes including having a baby or adopting a child (a change in tax dependents), getting married (a change in legal marital status), or starting a new job (change in employment status affecting your health benefits). There are other types of lifestyle changes that could qualify, so it's good to ask your FSA administrator about this. If you're not sure who to contact, you can always ask the HR department for more information.

2. Update how much you are contributing. Maybe you opted into an FSA, and realized that you hadn't contributed enough tax-free money to it. Open enrollment is the time to recalculate your expenses for the year, and an FSA Calculator can help you figure out estimated savings on FSA eligible services or products.

3. Maximize your FSA money. If you and your spouse can separately sign up for FSAs at work, you could both set aside up to $2,550 per account. That's $5,100 in potential tax-free savings to use for medical expenses like dental and eye care, and healthcare products, as well!

4. Consider other types of FSAs. If you have a family, you may have questions about other types of expenses including those of a Dependent Care FSA. Open enrollment will allow you to opt in (if that plan is available to you) and to ask your HR department questions about these plans.

5. Stay on top of plan-year extensions. An FSA could have different plan-year extensions or deadlines by which you must use your FSA dollars. Some plans have a Carryover option (up to $500 that rolls over to the next year) or a Grace Period - an additional two and a half months to use your account.

6. Keep track of your balance.Take a monthly inventory of how much you've spent by checking your account balance.

7. Research eligible expenses. If you want to know what's covered, it's good to read your plan guidelines to discover available services or products. You can also browse the FSA Eligibility List to discover FSA eligible expenses!

8. Ask questions before your open enrollment begins. Open enrollment can be stressful, especially if you're scrambling for information on health benefits. And, if you don't pay attention, you might automatically be enrolled in similar benefits, and that won't work if you have different healthcare needs. So, if you ask questions before open enrollment starts and do research, you'll better understand the available options and what makes sense for you and your family.

Other ways to use your FSA this fall (and to enjoy the last of summer) with products:

1. Prep for warm weather. Labor Day weekend is still ahead! If you're going to the beach or taking a tropical vacation, you'll want to bring along sunscreen, which is covered by an FSA!

2. Take care of pain easily after exercising with hot/cold therapy packs, which are available with your FSA dollars.

3. Update your first-aid kits for travel, at home, or even in the office.

4. Prep your kids for back to school. Did you know that physicals are covered with an FSA? When was the last time your child had a dental or vision exam? Expenses for both are also covered with an FSA. FSA Store even has a special Back to School section with products to keep your kids healthy.

Shop for products you'll need with your FSA at

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