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3 important questions to ask before the 3/15 Grace Period deadline

Basics

It's Grace Period season! If you have a flexible spending account (FSA) with the deadline extension of a 2.5 month grace period and your FSA ended 12/31/16, you have an additional two and a half months to spend down the remainder of your 2016 funds on qualifying products and services.

FSAstore.com is your one-stop shop to spend down your allocation before the extended deadline, but there are a number of important pieces of info to look into first before liquidating your 2016 funds. Here are the most important tidbits to keep in mind as we close in on March 15.

  1. Do I have the grace period and/or run-out period?

A common source of confusion for FSA users is the difference between the FSA grace period and "run-out" period. The grace period is an option chosen by the employer, which gives FSA users 2.5 months after the end of the plan year to spend their remaining FSA funds. The "run-out" period is slightly different: FSA users have up to 3 months following the end of the plan year to submit for reimbursement of expenses incurred within the previous plan year. The key difference is that with a grace period, new products/services can be purchased with 2016 funds, but with the run-out period, only expenses that were incurred during the prior plan year are eligible. FSAs can offer both the grace period and run-out, neither, one or the other, or even another option in which remaining funds up to $500 rollover to the following year. Always check with your FSA plan sponsor to find out which rules apply to your plan!

  1. Are all my 2016 expenses accounted for?

With tax time on the way, there's a good chance you're going through your 2016 expenses to see what can be deducted or written off. Even for those with FSA cards that automatically substantiate some expenses, FSA users should always keep track of all medical receipts and invoices in the case of an audit, and the grace period can be a great opportunity to go through 2016 expenses to ensure that you have been reimbursed for all medical care throughout the previous year. As long as an expense was incurred during 2016, it can be submitted for reimbursement until March 15 under the grace period deadline (or until 3/31 if your FSA has a run-out period!) Even better, if you forgot to have a necessary medical service or purchase your needed medical products in 2016 and you have a grace period, you can continue to use your 2016 funds through 3/15 (remember that deadlines and examples are for FSA plans that ended 12/31/16).

  1. What do I have planned for 2017?

Last but not least, the FSA grace period is the perfect time to look ahead to your goals for the coming year? Are you planning some time off? Are you hoping to jump into a new fitness regimen? Will you be moving to a different part of the country? No matter what is on the horizon, chances are, there's an FSA eligible product that can help support your continued health and wellness throughout 2017. Explore our comprehensive Eligibility List to find out what your benefit covers, and explore our FSA Eligible Products section to spend down your remaining 2016 funds!

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