Guide Dog: FSA Eligibility
Revenue Ruling 55-261 Treas. Reg. '1.213-1(e)(1)(iii)
What are guide dogs?
Guide dogs are a type of assistance dog or service dog that specifically helps with navigation for the blind and visually impaired. Guide dogs and expenses include those related to the animal's maintenance and care are eligible for reimbursement with a consumer-directed flexible spending account (Assistance Dogs International ).
Guide dogs are covered under Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations which prohibit businesses and institutions from barring entry onto establishments by people with guide dogs or service animals. Guide dogs are specifically trained for individuals who are blind or visually impaired and require the dog's help to move in public. This is typically documented medically, though such documentation isn't required in the United States for public access by a guide dog and owner.
Guide dogs are normally trained across a variety of settings, including foster homes and professional training establishments. The investment to train a guide dog is significant and requires months and sometimes years of training by professional dog trainers. Certain breeds of dog are more suited to perform as a guide dog. Certain training organizations may be more willing to work with different breeds.
Guide dogs are useful for giving a blind or visually impaired owner the confidence to take advantage of outdoor mobility. They perform this task by assisting their owners in navigating in straight lines from point to point, accounting for changes in elevation along the way. The owner must know the overall directions to their destination, but the dog will help them safely reach point along the directions, and to note changes in elevation such as curbs, streets, stairs, etc. Guide dogs can also help owners avoid overhead obstacles such as tree branches and signposts. Guide dogs cannot distinguish certain colors, and so are unable to help owners with reading traffic signals (Guide Dogs for the Blind).