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Inside Iowa State, a newspaper for faculty and staff, is published by the Office of University Relations.

Feb. 27, 2009

Flex spending claims due March 31

by Paula Van Brocklin

In these tough economic times, every dollar counts -- perhaps more than it used to. So dig up your healthcare and daycare receipts, and get your 2008 flexible spending account (FSA) claims filed by March 31. If you miss the deadline, you'll lose any unclaimed money deducted from your paychecks in 2008, per Internal Revenue Service guidelines and ISU policies.

If you don't have a receipt or other valid document (like an explanation of benefits form from your health care provider), you'll have to do some digging to see your money again.

Contact your health care provider

Your medical clinic, dentist office or pharmacy might help you out if you're unable to locate 2008 receipts for qualified health care expenses. Health care providers and pharmacies track the costs your insurance covered throughout the year, and also how much you paid from your own pocket. That's the amount you can claim through your flexible spending account.

"A provider might be willing to provide that information for you, but some may charge a fee for this service," said Jane Walter, human resource specialist.

Walter said a variety of health care expenses qualify for reimbursement, including first-aid kits, medical-alert bracelets, over-the-counter pain relievers and eyeglasses. Even an overnight hotel stay for a family member who accompanies you on a medical appointment may qualify for reimbursement.

"Have good documentation and file it with your tax records," Walter said. "In case of an audit, it's between you and the IRS."

For a list of IRS-approved health care expenses, go online.

Dependent care claims

The process for claiming dependent care expenses is a little simpler. If you have no receipts, your daycare provider should sign and complete the dependent care portion of the reimbursement form. Wellmark, the FSA administrator, does not accept copies of canceled checks, credit card statements or bank statements.

How to submit claims

To receive a reimbursement, complete a claim form (only a hard copy is accepted), and mail or fax it to Wellmark by March 31 (postmarked). Forms are located on the HRS web site or at Mailing and faxing information appears on the form.

Advice for 2009

For 2009, consider claiming your flexible spending reimbursements throughout the year to avoid the last-minute stress of locating all your receipts.

"Claims can be submitted after the Jan. 31 payroll is processed, which is usually completed by the second Tuesday in February each year," Walter said. "You don't have to wait until the end of the year."

The entire sum of money you elect for health care accounts in 2009 is available in February, Walter said. Dependent care reimbursements will be delayed if the claim is more than your monthly contribution. For example, if you submit a $500 claim for childcare but your monthly deduction is $400, you will receive a reimbursement of $400. You'll have to wait until the next payroll cycle to receive the remaining $100 from that claim.


Online tools

Online tools available through ISU health care providers Wellmark and Delta Dental allow you to register for online access to your medical and dental claims. To access your medical claims, go to and click on the "Members" tab. For dental claims, go to and select the "Subscribers" tab.