Can I Use FSA Funds for Service Animals?

Most people think of using their FSA funds on medical treatment and material goods. That's usually the case, but medically eligible expenses can also include something a little more lively — namely, a service animal. If your furry friend is part of a medical treatment strategy, there's a good chance that some of your associated expenses will be eligible.

But as with many healthcare costs, there are certain requirements that must be met in order to use your FSA on a service animal. Before you go buy a new frisbee for Fido with your card, read below for the important details.

When it's okay to use FSA funds for service animals

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, "A service animal means any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability." Service animals are legally recognized and protected against housing and business discrimination.

To use your FSA for a service animal, your medical professional typically has to write a Letter of Medical Necessity (LMN). This letter must show that you require an animal for your medical needs and that its primary function is for your health and not companionship.

Eligible items you can buy

According to the IRS, you can use your FSA for any expenses associated with your service animal, including food, training and veterinary costs. Costs paid for by the FSA must help the animal do its job. A harness that says "Service Dog" may be eligible, while a new doggie bed may not. You can also use your FSA to pay for a new service animal.

You can pay for those expenses directly with your FSA card, or use a different debit or credit card and submit for reimbursement from your FSA. So always keep your receipt in case your FSA administrator requires documentation.

Does this apply to emotional support animals?

Emotional support animals (ESA) can be any animal that provides emotional support to alleviate any effects as a result of a person's disability, such as provide compassion or relieve loneliness. ESAs differ from service animals in that they are not specially trained to perform specific tasks that aid an individual. ESAs may also be FSA eligible, especially if your doctor can write an LMN proving how the animal will help you more than medication or other forms of treatment would.

The animal must be part of your own or a dependent's medical treatment, not anyone else's.


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