Eligibility

FSAstore.com’s Favorite Staff Picks for the 2020 Grace Period Deadline

For more than a third of the flexible spending account (FSA) user population, March 15 is a pivotal deadline when they have to spend the last of their 2019 funds before they're forfeited to the "use-it-or-lose-it" rule.

Need some help getting your wellness shopping trip started? Let the FSAstore.com staff help. We've compiled our staff's favorite newly eligible and top sellers so you can get exactly what you need to spend your remaining funds and get what your family needs to stay healthy year-round.

1. MDSolarSciences Hydrating Lip Balm SPF 30

"This is my favorite sun-safe lip balm that goes with everything. It has broad spectrum protection and helps prevent chapped lips," - Pauline F.

2. Bug Bite Thing

"This is one of our office favorites. It uses a suction tool to remove insect saliva and venom to quickly get rid of any itching or burning after a bite," - Kevin O.

3. KT Tape Recovery Cold Therapy Roller

"If I have a sports injury or just some regular workout soreness, this is a great option to have in my freezer to fight off pain and inflammation," - Ethan W.

4. Kanjo Acupressure Zip-Apart Mat

"I'm a big fan of Kanjo products, and this zip-apart mat helps me set up and break down the mat quickly and stow it in a suitcase or bag when traveling. It's a great way to treat common pain issues that can affect your neck and back," - Brendon A.

5. Attitude Living Baby & Kids Mineral Face Stick SPF 30 Fragrance-free

"I love this face stick for my little ones because it's plant-based, reef-safe and certified sustainable while offering broad spectrum protection against UVA/UVB rays," - Nancy H.

6. Recoup Cryosleeve Cold Compression Sleeve

"When I pull a muscle or tweak something at the gym, this cold compression sleeve is a lifesaver. It conforms to the area to ease pain and speed up the recovery process," - Bill S.

7. Sven Can See Antifog Gel

"If you wear contacts or eyeglasses, an FSA is a no-brainer to cover vision corrective aides and everything else that goes with them. I'm a big fan of Sven Antifog gel that will keep my lenses clear for 24 hours and comes in a pen-sized spray bottle that can go with you anywhere," - Zach W.

8. Elvie Double Electric Breast Pump

"After using a regular breast pump after the birth of my first child, I'm absolutely wowed by the Elvie. It can be worn in a standard nursing bra, and I can get stuff done while still being able to pump. It's one of the coolest mom innovations out there today," - Vanessa S.

9. Caring Mill Travel Heating Pad

"You'd be amazed how many ways you can use a heating pad, especially when it comes to treating abdominal cramps and discomfort. This Caring Mill design is perfect for use at home and can fit easily in a travel bag, and each sale benefits our charitable partner, Children's Health Fund! It's a win-win," - Jackie D.

March 15 will be here before you know it, so make sure you shop at FSAstore.com for all of your deadline spending needs:

  • Shop worry-free until midnight PST on March 15
  • 24/7 access to FSA experts, call or chat
  • 100% eligible products, guaranteed
Basics

Real Money: Why your FSA doesn't let you stock up on products

An FSA is a "use-it-or-lose-it" plan, which means if you don't spend all the funds in the account before the end of the year, you lose that money. So, what happens if it's December and you still have a lot of money left in your FSA account? Can you stock up on eligible products to make sure that you don't lose those funds?

The answer is no. But, there are still some options that can help you avoid this situation, so let's take a look at how you can take advantage of all your FSA benefits before year's end, while doing so within the guidelines of your FSA.

What does "stockpiling" mean with an FSA?

While the term hasn't been fully defined, according to informal remarks made by an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) official, stockpiling eligible items under your FSA means that you buy more items than you're able to use before the end of the taxable year.

Buying any more than three of the same item could be considered "stockpiling." By the very nature of FSAs, any product you buy should be to fill a need for you, your spouse or a qualified dependent. Because of this, the IRS doesn't let you to stock up on eligible items with your FSA, and your administrator can usually figure out that you're stockpiling by analyzing how many items you bought towards the end of the year.

Let's say it's December 1st and you still have $600 left in your FSA. You realize that you're running out of nasal spray, so you decide to buy 25 packs of your favorite saline solution, so you can stock up for the rest of the year and into the next, and use up the remaining balance in your FSA.

The problem is that unless you're somehow going to use all that saline solution in the next 30 days, your FSA administrator may flag that purchase as stockpiling.

If you stock up at the end of the year, your FSA administrator is probably going to send you an alert to inform you that this kind of spending isn't allowed and that those purchases wouldn't be eligible for reimbursement.

Take advantage of rollover and grace period options

The best way to avoid stockpiling is to spend down your FSA balance before you get to the month of December when the mad scramble to use your benefits tends to hit the hardest.

But if you find that you can't quite pull that off, it's important to know that some FSA plans allow you to carry over up to $500 of unused funds into the next calendar year. If your plan doesn't offer that rollover option, it may offer a grace period of two-and-a-half months at the end of the plan year.

This grace period carries over the remaining balance in your FSA into mid-March of the next calendar year for those running on a calendar year plan, which gives you more time to spend that money before you lose it.

At the beginning of the plan year, make sure you ask your FSA administrator whether your plan offers a rollover or a grace period option so you can plan your spending well in advance.

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Whether you budget week-to-week, or plan to use your FSA for bigger things, our weekly Real Money column will help you maximize your flex spending dollars. Look for it every Tuesday, exclusively on the FSAstore.com Learning Center. And for the latest info about your health and financial wellness, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Basics

What is an FSA "run-out" period?

During the early part of the Flexible Spending Account (FSA) plan year, you will hear plenty of terms being thrown around like "grace period" or "rollover," but one term that is constantly misunderstood is the FSA "run-out" period. This is a standard account feature that is built into the structure of most flexible spending accounts (FSAs), but it can often be confused with the FSA grace period because it is so similar. So what's the deal with the FSA "run-out" period? Let's find out.

"Run-Out" Periods

An FSA "run-out" period refers to the period of time in the new plan year during which account holders can file claims for expenses incurred during the previous plan year. This timeframe is chosen by the employer, not the IRS, and can last for any period of time, but the most common FSA "run-out" period is 90 days. For instance, if your FSA plan year ends on December 31 and you have a 90 day run out period, you would have until March 31 of the following year to submit claims for reimbursement.

What is the difference between the FSA grace and "run-out" periods?

A common source of confusion for FSA users is the difference between the FSA grace period and "run-out" period. Unlike the "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 key difference is that with a grace period, new products/services can be purchased with prior funds into the new plan year, but with the run-out period, only expenses that were incurred during the prior plan year are eligible in the near year. 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, but this is left up to the FSA plan sponsor to choose. Always check with your FSA plan sponsor to find out which rules apply to your plan!

Looking ahead to March deadlines

With all of that confusion out of the way, March is poised to be a pivotal month for FSA users. If you have the FSA grace period and your FSA plan year ended December 31, 2016, you have until March 15, 2017 to make purchases with 2016 funds, while those with the 90 day "run-out" period have until March 31, 2017 to file claims for expenses incurred during 2016.

So don't wait - learn about the most important deadlines on your account and spend down your FSA funds at FSAstore.com! We have the web's largest selection of FSA eligible products to support the continued good health and wellness of you and your dependents.