Flexible spending accounts

A flexible spending account (FSA) lets you set aside pre-tax money from your paycheck to pay for qualified expenses, such as deductibles, coinsurance and copays. Because federal, state, Medicare and FICA taxes are not deducted, you end up with more money in your pocket. These programs lower your taxable income and may affect your future Social Security benefits.

If your spouse has a Health Savings Account (HSA) through their employer, you cannot elect the HCEA. Because both of these plans result in tax savings, the IRS forbids a person who has a HSA from also having access through a spouse to a FSA HCEA which could pay medical expenses.

Information and forms

Go to the 121 Benefits website for:

  • Flexible spending account summary
  • Flexible spending account information and reimbursement forms
  • $500 carry over FAQs
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Health care expense account

The health care expense account is a way for you to set aside pre-tax dollars to help cover medical, dental or vision expenses for you, your spouse (if filing joint income tax return) or any claimed tax-eligible dependent. You or any tax-eligible dependents do not have to be covered under the county's health insurance to have claims reimbursed.

The maximum annual contribution is $2,550 per employee.

Eligible expenses

See a list of eligible expenses.

Enrollment and changes

Employees may enroll during the annual open enrollment period. To enroll mid-year or make changes due to a qualifying event, complete the mid-year change form (DOC)

Changes to the flexible spending account can only be made if an IRS-defined qualifying event occurs. If an election change is made, the change only applies as of the date of change. For example, if the account election is $2,000 and on June 1, due to a qualifying event, the election was increased to $2,500 the extra $500 could be applied to claims incurred June or 1 or later.

Reimbursement

There are two reimbursement options available: reimbursement request form or debit (Benny) card. Visit the 121 Benefits website to learn more.

Deadline

To be reimbursed, claims must be incurred during the 2016 plan year (January 1 - December 31). Any unused funds up to $500 carry over to the 2017 plan year. Any unused funds over $500 will be forfeited.

All claims must be submitted to 121 Benefits by March 31 of the following year. For example, claims for expenses incurred in 2016 must be submitted by March 31, 2017.

Dependent care assistance program

This program is a way for you to set aside pre-tax dollars for eligible child day care and elder care expenses. Both the employee and spouse must be working, attending school or looking for work.

The maximum contribution is $5,000 per family per year.

Eligible expenses

Eligible expenses are for a dependent under the age of 13 or one who is physically or mentally unable to provide care for him/herself and lives with you more than half the year. See IRS publication 503 (PDF) for details.

Fees for in-home child care, licensed day care, preschool facilities, before and after school programs, and elder care can be submitted for reimbursement. Fees for kindergarten are not eligible expenses. If you have specific questions, call 121 Benefits at 612-877-4321 or 1-800-300-1672.

Enrollment and changes

Employees may enroll during the annual open enrollment period. To enroll mid-year or make changes due to a qualifying event, complete the mid-year change form (DOC)

Changes to the flexible spending account can only be made if an IRS-defined qualifying event occurs. If an election change is made, the change only applies as of the date of change. For example, if the account election is $2,000 and on June 1, due to a qualifying event, the election was increased to $2,500 the extra $500 election could only be applied to claims incurred June 1 or later.

Reimbursement

For reimbursement, visit 121 Benefits for the dependent care claim form.

Deadline and grace period

To be reimbursed, claims must be incurred during the plan year (January 1 - December 31) or the following grace period (January 1 - March 15). Any unused funds will be forfeited.

All claims must be submitted to 121 Benefits by March 31 of the following year. For example, claims for expenses incurred in 2016 or the grace period must be submitted by March 31, 2017.

Adoption assistance program

This program is a way for you to set aside pre-tax dollars to pay for adoption expenses.

The maximum annual election is $12,000.

Eligible expenses

Eligible expenses as defined by the IRS include:

  • Attorney fees
  • Court costs
  • Counseling fee
  • Traveling fees

For questions about other eligible expenses, please contact 121 Benefits at 612-877-4321 or 1-800-300-1672.

Domestic adoptions

If the eligible child is a U.S. citizen or resident of the United States, program participants can be reimbursed for eligible expenses from an adoption flexible spending account even if the adoption never becomes final. See IRS code section 137(a) (PDF).

Foreign adoptions

If the eligible child is not a U.S. citizen or resident, participants cannot be reimbursed for eligible expenses from an adoption flexible spending account unless the adoption becomes final. Under IRS Code Section 137(a) (PDF), reimbursements of qualifying adoption expenses must have been incurred during the period of adoption flexible spending account coverage.

Enrollment and changes

Employees may enroll during the annual open enrollment period. To enroll mid-year or make changes, complete the mid-year change form (DOC)

Employees may change their elections for adoption flexible spending account benefits upon:

  • The commencement of an adoption proceeding
  • An increase in the number of the employee's dependents due to a placement for adoption or an adoption
  • The termination of an adoption proceeding

The regulations also require any change due to the above events be on account of and consistent with the event. The regulations consider any change that affects eligibility or the amount of adoption expenses to correspond with the change in status.

Reimbursement

For reimbursement, visit 121 Benefits for the adoption spending account form.

Deadline and grace period

To be reimbursed, claims must be incurred during the plan year (January 1 - December 31) or the following grace period (January 1 - March 15). Any unused funds will be forfeited.

All claims must be submitted to 121 Benefits by March 31 of the following year. For example, claims for expenses incurred in 2016 or the grace period must be submitted by March 31, 2017.

Parking flexible spending account

This program is a way for you to set aside pre-tax dollars for vehicle or bicycle parking expenses incurred as part of commuting to work. Parking expenses paid or reimbursed by the county are not eligible.

The maximum contribution per month is $255 (24 deductions per year), and it is not necessary to re-enroll each year to stay in the program.

Enrollment and changes

County lot

Contracts for county parking lots are handled by Facility Services. Call 612-543-1220.

The cost is automatically paid through payroll by using pre-tax dollars. There is no enrollment, no risk of forfeiture and no reimbursement form to complete. You may not enroll in the pre-tax parking FSA to reimburse this expense

Non-county lot or secured bicycle parking

To enroll, change your deduction amount, or stop participation, complete the vehicle/bicycle parking enrollment/change form (PDF).

You may change your deduction amount or stop participation only if you:

  • Change job sites
  • Change primary residence
  • Change work schedule or hours
  • Go on leave or vacation
  • Experience an event that changes your need or cost for parking

Submit change within 30 days of the event. There are no restrictions on the frequency or timing of changes or re-enrollments.

Reimbursement

You have only 180 days from the time you incur the expense to request reimbursement. Claims older than 180 days will be denied.

Parking meters, parking lots without receipts and bicycle lockers can be reimbursed without documentation as long as they certify that they are accurate.

Van pool program

This program is a way for you to set aside pre-tax dollars to reimburse eligible van pool expenses.

Eligible expenses

The cost paid to ride in a vehicle that seats at least 6 adults, excluding the driver. At least 50% of the seats must be regularly occupied (excluding the driver) and 80% of the mileage must reasonably be expected to be for purposes of transportation of employees between work and home.

The maximum contribution per month is $130 per month and it is not necessary to re-enroll each year to stay in the program.

To enroll

  1. Email hr.benefits@hennepin.us that you want to enroll in the vanpool program.
    • Your email should include:
      • Your name
      • Employee ID number
      • The dollar amount you want deducted on a monthly basis. 
  2. The Benefits Division will enter your deduction in APEX within 5 days of receiving your notification. The enrollment file is sent to the vendor by the end of payroll week.

NOTE: It is not necessary to re-enroll each year to stay in this program.

To make changes

You may change your deduction amount or stop participation if you experience one of the situations noted below: 

  • Change in job site
  • Change in primary residence
  • Change in work schedule or hours
  • On leave or vacation
  • Any event that changes your need or cost for van pooling

How to make a change:

  1. Email hr.benefits@hennepin.us that you want to change or cancel your vanpool program deduction.
    • The email must be received within 30 days of the event
    • Your email should include:
      • Your name
      • Employee ID number
      • The reason (from the above list) for your change and the date of the change
  2. The Benefits Division will enter your deduction in APEX within 5 days of receiving your notification

NOTE: There are no restrictions on the frequency or timing of re-enrollments.

Reimbursement

You have only 180 days from the time you incur the expense to request reimbursement. Claims older than 180 days will be denied.

Funds can be rolled over into the following year. However, any money remaining when you leave the program will be forfeited. To minimize forfeitures, eligible expense incurred prior to leaving the program can be reimbursed (within the six months noted above).

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