Use It or Lose It: 10 FSA-Eligible Expenses To Know Before Your Cash Expires

While the end of 2018 is fast approaching, and FSAs (or flexible spending accounts) do in fact have a deadline of December 31 to spend your funds, some companies offer a grace period of a few months to submit a claim. Other companies will roll a portion of your money over to next year if it’s not used—but no company is allowed to do both.

That said, if you’ve been putting money in a flex spending account for medical expenses, you should probably spend it now.

Be sure to check with your HR department if you’re not sure about your FSA policies. The IRS determines what is and isn’t tax deductible, but if you want a list of some high-ticket items, here it is.

1) Over-the-counter and prescription drugs

If your doctor writes you a prescription for a drug to treat a medical condition, you can get reimbursed for the cost through your FSA. The exceptions are prescription drugs for cosmetic purposes (hair growth pills, botox injection for cosmetic reasons only, etc.), as they’re typically not medically necessary.

Pro-tip: Most non-prescription medications will not qualify for FSA reimbursement. However, according to the IRS, if the drug you need is available without a prescription (like over-the-counter ibuprofen, which you can find in pharmacy aisles), and your doctor gives you a prescription for it, you may be able to get reimbursed for the cost. Over-the-counter insulin, available in certain states, may also be eligible for FSA reimbursement.

2) Pregnancy and maternity items

Ovulation monitors and pregnancy tests (over-the-counter), breast pumps and accessories, over-the-counter diaper rash ointments and creams, Lamaze classes, breastfeeding classes,  childbirth classes, and even a doula birthing coach may all qualify for FSA reimbursement—obviously, keep your receipts.

3) Alternative therapies

Acupuncture, nutritional supplements, vitamins, herbal supplements and “natural medicines,” that were recommended by a licensed physician are usually okay to claim—as long as they’re for treating a specific condition.

4) Specialty disability items

If you have a condition that requires you to modify your car in order to perform everyday tasks, then those modifications may be something you can use your FSA dollars on. The same thing can apply to a guide dog, fitness programs designed to treat a medical condition (you’ll probably need a doctor’s note), hearing aid batteries and long-term care services.

5) Elective surgeries

Certain elective surgeries are FSA eligible as well (though they have to be medically necessary), such as:

  • Reconstructive surgery following an accident or medical procedure, or because of a health condition
  • Removal of a benign mole, cyst or tumor
  • LASIK or corrective laser eye surgery
  • Transgender treatments and related surgery
  • Cosmetic procedures or surgery for birth defects, accidents or diseases

6) Birth control products

Prescription birth control pills obviously qualify as FSA expenses, but so do tubal ligation, condoms, and prescription contraceptive devices. Check with your HR department about specifics.

7) Prescription Eyewear

Any and all glasses or contact lenses that you buy online (or in-person) can qualify for an FSA reimbursement. Get your prescription from a licensed optometrist first, and if you choose to buy glasses online, be sure to review the return policy before you buy. You don’t want to get stuck with an ill-fitting pair of glasses that you can’t return.

8) Addiction recovery and treatment

If you need to seek treatment for alcohol dependence or drug addiction, then your in-patient treatments—including meals and lodging, as well as costs associated with transportation to and from a treatment center—can all be eligible. If you are in a program that is designed to help you quit smoking, then you can probably get reimbursement for that. You may even be able to get reimbursement for over-the-counter smoking cessation drugs such as the patch or nicotine gum.

9) Dancing lessons

Yes, for real. Though don’t bust out the ballet shoes just yet, Baryshnikov. Dancing lessons are only eligible if you’re taking them to treat a specific medical condition. This can include swim therapy, but you’ll need a letter from your doc.

10) Medically necessary diet plans

Certain weight loss programs may be eligible if they are a medical necessity. Or, if you have very specific dietary needs or are in need of dietary supplements (recommended by your doctor, of course) for the treatment of a medical condition, you can submit a claim that will cover those expenses.

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