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June 17, 2024
Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA)
Updated On: Mar 27, 2021

Flexible Spending Accounts

Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) allow career postal workers to use pre-tax dollars to pay for out-of-pocket health care, dental, and vision expenses not covered by insurance, including co-payments and deductibles.

Employees can also set up a Flexible Spending Account for dependent care expenses for children and aging parents.

The money withheld for FSAs is not subject to taxes.

There are two ways to enroll. Call PostalEase toll-free at 877-477-3273 or, at a USPS facility, log on to Click on Employee Self-Service, then on PostalEase.

Understanding Flexible Spending Accounts:

If you have health care expenses not covered by your health insurance (like doctor and dentist visits, vision care, etc.) you can use Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) to get a tax break for those expenses. You contribute money from your paychecks to an FSA, which is an account that allows you to cover your eligible health care expenses throughout the year with tax-free money. Whatever you contribute isn't subject to Federal income tax, Social Security tax, or Medicare tax. Since you get a tax break each payday, it's cheaper to pay for your health care expenses through an FSA. Additionally, there is also a Dependent Care FSA which allows you to get the same tax breaks on dependent care (day care) for your eligible children, or for elder care.

How FSAs work:

First, you must estimate your yearly health care expenditures not covered by your health insurance. For example, last year you spent $500 on health plan deductibles, $100 for co-payments, $200 for prescriptions, $300 on eyeglasses, and $200 at the dentist's office - that's $1,300. Assume that you will spend the same amount this coming year. You enroll in the Health Care FSA for $1,300 during FSA Open Season. Beginning in Pay Period 1 of 2002 you'll have $50 automatically withheld from each paycheck ($50 x 26 pay periods in one year = $1,300). That $50 per pay period is not subject to Federal income tax, Social Security tax, or Medicare tax. So you'll be paying taxes on $50 less income than if you paid the additional health care expenses out of your pocket.

Whenever you have an eligible health care expense, you send in a claim form with proof of your actual out-of-pocket cost to the FSA Customer Service Center. Normally, within 2 to 3 weeks you will receive a check.

Dependent Care FSA:

The Dependent Care FSA is similar (but separate). First, you must estimate what you're going to spend next year on dependent care. Then you sign up to contribute that amount to your Dependent Care FSA.

For example, you expect to pay $3,250 next year for day care for your 4-year old son. You enroll in the Dependent Care FSA for $3,250 during FSA Open Season. Beginning in Pay Period 1 of 2002 you'll have $125 automatically withheld from each paycheck ($125 x 26 pay periods in one year = $3,250). If you're in the 27% Federal tax bracket and you're covered by FERS, your tax rate is 27% Federal + 6.2% Social Security + 1.45% Medicare = a tax rate of 34.65%. So $125 would go into your Dependent Care FSA each payday, but your paycheck would only go down by $82, because you'd be saving $43 in taxes ($125 x 34.65% = $43). By the end of the year you'd save over $1,126 in taxes.

Eligible Health Care FSA expenses:

Up to $2,600 of eligible out-of-pocket health care expenses (not covered by insurance) for you and your family if you are a bargaining unit employee and up to $5,000 if you are a nonbargaining unit employee. Expenses include:

  • Eyeglasses, contact lenses, and Lasik (laser) eye surgery
  • Prescription drugs
  • Dental services (exams, fillings, crowns, etc.)
  • Braces
  • Health plan deductibles
  • Co-payments for office visits

You cannot use a Health Care FSA to pay health insurance premiums. However, deductions from your paycheck for health insurance premiums are already tax-free under your health benefits program.

Eligible Dependent Care FSA expenses:

Up to $5,000 of dependent care (day care) expenses for your eligible children, or for elder care or day care for your adult dependents, because you (and your spouse if you're married) are working. Expenses include:

  • Day care in your home
  • A licensed child care center
  • A licensed elder care center
  • Nursery school
  • Summer day camp
  • After-school care

More Information:

Enrollment: Once you enroll, your FSA contribution amounts are set for the year. However, if you have certain events (like marriage or divorce) you may change your FSA contribution amounts in keeping with the event.

Taxes: There's one catch in regards to taxes. Any FSA money you haven't used, you lose. (You have an extra 6 months after the calendar year to file your FSA claims.)

Restrictions: Health Care FSA money can only be used for health care expenses and Dependent Care FSA money can only be used for dependent care expenses.

More information: FSA Customer Service Center - 1-800-842-2026 from 8:00 A.M. to 10:00 P.M. Eastern Time. They will be glad to answer any questions about FSAs that you may have.


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