Have a Flexible Spending Account (FSA)? There are a number of qualified FSA expenses that you may not know about. Here are nine of them.
Healthcare FSAs let you to use funds that you have set aside pre-tax to pay for a wide variety of medical, dental and health-related products and services, including certain over-the-counter items.
Most people know that expenses which are eligible for FSA reimbursement include common medical expenses such as doctor visits, surgery and other medical procedures, prescription medicines, dental, vision, chiropractic and mental health services. But you may be surprised to learn that the following products and services are qualified FSA expenses.
Here are Nine Qualified FSA Expenses You May Not Know About:
- Guide Dogs/Service Animals: FSAs can reimburse the costs of buying and training a guide dog (or other service animal) that is used to assist people with visual, hearing or other physical disabilities. You can also claim maintenance costs like food, grooming, and veterinary expenses incurred as part of keeping the animal healthy and able to perform its duties.
- Braille Reading Material: FSAs can reimburse some (but not all) of the costs for purchasing reading materials for a visually impaired person, such as Braille books and magazines. Specifically, you can claim reimbursement for the difference between the purchase price of the regular printed edition and the higher cost of the Braille edition.
- Auto Adaptation Expenses: Disabled persons who must install hand steering controls and other special equipment in order to drive their vehicle can claim these for FSA reimbursement. You can also claim the difference in cost between a regular automobile and one designed to transport a wheelchair.
- Television Closed-Captioning: Most modern TVs include the built-in capability for closed-captioning. If you own an older set that requires an external adapter to add this feature, however, you can claim reimbursement for the adapter’s cost. In some cases, you can claim the difference between the cost of a specially equipped television set and that of the same model without closed-captioning ability.
- Special Telephone Equipment: If you or a dependent are deaf, hard of hearing, or have a speech disability, FSAs can reimburse the costs of special telephone equipment that assists with communication. This includes teletypewriters and other telecommunications devices for the deaf, as well as repair costs required to keep the equipment serviceable.
- Wigs: If you have lost part or all of your hair due to disease or medical treatment (such as radiation or chemotherapy), wig purchases qualify for FSA reimbursement.
- Smoking Cessation Programs: Stop-smoking programs qualify as FSA medical expenses; however, over-the-counter treatments that may be part of a program’s treatment process do not. Skin patches, nicotine gum, or other stop-smoking products require a prescription to be considered qualified FSA expenses.
- Lead-Based Paint Removal: The costs of removing lead-based paints from home walls and surfaces is a qualified expense if the following conditions are met:
• Removal prevents a child who has or has had lead poisoning from eating the paint
• The surfaces have peeling, cracking or flaking paint
• Children can easily reach the lead paint (i.e., paint removal from a ceiling does not qualify)
Costs associated with repainting the removal area (labor and paint) do not qualify as medical expenses. Covering a leaded area with wallboard or paneling instead of removing the paint is considered a capital expense, rather than a medical expense.
- Transportation: Transportation costs to and from medical care –bus, taxi, train and air fares, and ambulance service – qualify as medical expenses. A parent who must take their child to receive medical care may claim any costs incurred. Adults who cannot travel alone can claim transportation costs for a nurse or other companion who can deliver medical care such as injections, medications, or other treatments. You can also claim transportation costs for regular visits to a mentally ill dependent if the visits are part of his or her treatment recommendations.
The more you know about qualified FSA expenses, the more money you can save. To learn more, download IRS Publication 502, Medical and Dental Expenses.