Flexible Spending Accounts: Office of Faculty and Staff Benefits

Georgetown University Logo Georgetown University Related Image

Flexible Spending Accounts

FSAs are a unique employer sponsored plan authorized by the federal government to help families pay for health care and dependent care expenses. By enrolling in one or both of these accounts, you can pay for eligible, out-of-pocket health and dependent care expenses with pre-tax dollars – reducing your taxable income and increasing your take home pay.

You may elect to participate in either or both the health care reimbursement account (HCRA) or the dependent care reimbursement account (DCRA); however, money cannot be transferred between the accounts. For example, money in your HCRA may not be used to pay for dependent care expenses.

Learn more:

The FSA plan is administered by Colonial HealthCare, Inc. You may contact Colonial HealthCare by calling 1-877-819-9413, by emailing benefitseast@alliantinsurance.com or by visiting their website at www.fsaontheweb.com.

The Benefits Card
All FSA participants will receive a debit-style MasterCard that allows direct access to FSA funds for eligible health care and dependent care expenses. This means no waiting period for reimbursements. When you use your card, available funds are deducted from your FSA account to pay for services or supplies. All you need to do is submit your receipts within 10 days to Colonial HealthCare in order to comply with IRS rules. Use of the card is optional – traditional claim processing remains available and must be used for purchases from providers who do not accept MasterCard or are not designated as eligible merchants.

Tracking Your Flexible Spending Accounts

Whether or not you use the benefits card, you can check the status of your FSA accounts on a website established for cardholders.  As an FSA participant, you are a cardholder.  You may track HCRA and DCRA account balances, pending and completed reimbursements, view account statements and much more.

Setting Up Your Online Account

           -   Employee ID

           -   Card number (enter the 16-digit number on your benefits card)

  •    Click "Submit"

Eligible Expenses
For the most up-to-date and complete list of examples of eligible and ineligible expenses for the HCRA and DCRA, please visit fsaontheweb, a site maintained by ColonialHealthcare.    Because vision correction surgery (aka "Lasik" surgery) and teeth whitening (or bleaching) are particularly popular procedures, we wanted to provide some information about them on this website. Vision correction surgery is an eligible expense under the HCRA. Teeth whitening is not an eligible expense under HCRA.

Filing Claims
You may be reimbursed from your HCRA or DCRA accounts using the Benefits Debit Card, or by submitting a completed claim form to Colonial HealthCare. You may download the form and instructions here. Follow the instructions on the form. Please read below (the section entitled Use It or Lose It!) for information regarding claim filing deadlines.

When filing a claim, you must specify the Plan Year contributions from which you wish to be reimbursed. If you do not, you will be reimbursed with funds from the plan year in which the claim was incurred (provided you are enrolled for that year). If your expense is incurred during a grace period, and you specify that you want the claim applied to the prior year's funds, but there are insufficient funds remaining in that year's account, then the prior year's account will be "zeroed out" and the remainder of the claim will be applied to the current year's account.

Remember, when using your Benefits Debit Card, you are still required to submit your receipts to Colonial HealthCare within 10 days of the transaction date. You may use the claim form, indicating this was a debit card purchase, when submitting your receipts.

Making Changes During the Year
Generally, after you make your flexible spending account elections, Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regulations permit changing those elections only during the next open enrollment. However, if you experience a qualifying event during the year and you notify the Office of Faculty and Staff Benefits within 90 days of the event, you may change certain benefit plan elections before the next open enrollment.

The following Qualifying Event Matrix shows you which events allow you to make changes to your elections:

Please note that Georgetown University does not grant any other exceptions whatsoever to the rule regarding making changes to your plan choices mid-year.

FSA Savings Example
Here is an example of how participating in FSAs can lower your taxes and help you save money.

Enrolling in the Flexible Spending Accounts
As a new employee, you may enroll no later than the last day of the month following your hire date. Participation in the HCRA and DCRA starts on the first day of the month following enrollment Once you make an election in one calendar year, it can only be changed or stopped if you have a change in personal circumstances, such as marriage, divorce, or the birth of a child. If you choose not to enroll as a new employee, you may enroll during Open Enrollment, which is held each fall. Your enrollment will become effective on the following January 1st.

Enrollment in flexible spending accounts does not rollover from year-to-year. You must re-enroll during open enrollment if you wish to continue your participation during the upcoming calendar year.

Use It or Lose It!
The Internal Revenue Service has strict rules about spending accounts. You must use the money you have paid into the account for expenses you have incurred during the same calendar year or in the grace period for that year. Any money remaining unclaimed at the end of the grace period will be forfeited and is lost to you. This means you must carefully estimate the eligible out-of-pocket health and dependent care expenses you expect to incur.

The grace period for any Plan Year (calendar year) is January 1 through March 15 of the following calendar year. If you have unused contributions in your account by the end of the Plan Year, and you incur expenses during the grace period, you can file a claim and be reimbursed with contributions from the prior year. The deadline for filing such claims (i.e., expense incurred during grace period, reimbursement from prior year's account) is the April 30 following the grace period.

The following chart illustrates this rule:


When using your Benefits Debit Card during the grace period, you are drawing on your current year's flexible spending account balance. In order to exhaust the previous year's balance, you must pay out of pocket and submit a claim for reimbursement indicating the appropriate plan year.

When Eligibility Ends

Your participation in Flexible Spending Accounts (both Health and Dependent Care Reimbursement Accounts) ends when you leave the University or have a change in your employment status that renders you ineligible for coverage.  Specifically, coverage stops on the last day of your employment or the day you lose eligibility.

You can be reimbursed for expenses that are incurred through your last day of employment or the day you lose eligibility due to a change in employment status.  You have 90 days from the last of day of coverage to submit your claims.  Any unused funds will be forfeited.

Changes in Employment Status that will Result in Benefit Termination

  • Termination of Employment
  • Move from full time (75% or more time) to part time (74% and less time) status
  • Move from benefits eligible job code to benefits ineligible job code

It's especially important to note that claims for both Health and Dependent Care Reimbursement expenses that are incurred while you are on a leave of absence (i.e. short or long term disability) are not eligible for reimbursement.

Health Care Reimbursement Account (HCRA): You may be reimbursed for the amount of your eligible expenses up to your annual HCRA election (please note for terminated employees this amount can exceed the amount you contributed to the plan).

Dependent Care Reimbursement Account (DCRA): You may be reimbursed only for the amount you contributed to the Dependent Care Reimbusement Account which is often less than the annual election for employees terminating during the middle of the plan year.

Under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconcilaition Act of 1985 (COBRA) you may continue your group health, dental and/or vision insurance coverage for up to 18 months as long as you remit the required premium for the coverage period.  Read more about COBRA at http://benefits.georgetown.edu/enrolling/cobra/

Visit our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) section to learn more about FSAs and the Debit Card.

Office of Faculty and Staff Benefits · Georgetown University
37th & O St NW, Ground Floor, Healy Hall · Washington, DC 20057-1021
tel. (202) 687-2500 · fax. (202) 687-2389 ·
Georgetown University Seal