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2016 FSA Mailbag recap: Y​​our top Learning Center questions answered!

Accounts

2017 is finally here, and whether you're a new flexible spending account (FSA) user or a seasoned veteran of these accounts, if you ever have an issue with your benefit, you can submit a question to the FSAstore.com Learning Center! This area of our site outlines the most frequently asked questions about FSAs, and you can even submit a question to our experts who will reply to your query as quickly as possible!

We received plenty of great questions over the course of 2016, and we wanted to share a few of the most common and relevant submissions as we kick off the new year:

  1. Can I cancel my FSA contributions at any time?

Unfortunately, FSA contributions cannot be canceled at any time during the plan year and account holders are required to finish out their plan year in accordance to the payroll deductions they signed up for during the Open Enrollment period. However, there are a few special exceptions that would allow an FSA user to change their contributions, which are called Qualifying Life Events (QLEs). QLEs include a change in marital status (marriage, divorce, death of spouse), a change in the number of dependents, a change in employment status of account holder, spouse or dependent, an event that causes the dependent to satisfy or cease to satisfy an eligibility requirement for a particular benefit or a change in residence of the employee, spouse or dependent.

  1. Is there a cap on spending for eyeglasses?

There is no cap on spending for eyeglasses if they are purchased for you, your spouse or a qualified dependent. However, the IRS does not allow for the "stockpiling" of one particular item with FSA funds, so as long as account holders are not buying excessive amounts of a specific item, they should have no issues with reimbursement.

  1. I am going to finance the $5K cost of hearing aids over a 48 month period. I will then pay monthly installments totaling +/- $1,400/year. I know hearing aids are eligible expenses, but are they covered via financing? Including the finance charges?

FSAs may only provide reimbursement for services received within the current plan year. So for the year in which you actually incur the expense (you are provided with the hearing aids), you would be able to submit for reimbursement from your FSA. However, finance charges are not eligible with an FSA, and any payments you make in subsequent years would not be eligible because they would not correspond with the year in which the services (or in this case, product) were received. Keep in mind that you don't actually have to pay the expense for it to qualify for reimbursement. In the year in which you are provided with the hearing aids for example, you could potentially elect the full $2,550 FSA limit and be provided with up to $2,550 in reimbursement for your $5,000 hearing aids, whether or not you have actually paid that much to date.

  1. Can I have an FSA and HSA?

Yes, you can have what's known as a Limited FSA as that's often paired with an HSA. But to be eligible for both an HSA and FSA, the Limited FSA will only be able to cover specific items that are not covered under the HSA. For example, these limited expenses could include dental, vision or over-the-counter dental and vision products. If you have more questions about eligibility, it's best to ask your HSA/FSA administrator.

  1. What's the max allowed for 2017 medical FSA that each my husband and I can take through our individual employers?

The IRS announced in October that the 2017 FSA maximum will be $2,600, up $50 from 2016. Because the FSA max is applicable on an account by account basis, if an individual and their spouse both have access to their own FSA through their own employers (and those employers are not affiliated), they can each elect the maximum for 2017. If they did, they would have a combined household contribution of $5,200.

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