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 lets you set aside money pre-tax for medical, dental or vision expenses. You can cover expenses for yourself and any dependent listed on your taxes. 

Expenses you can cover with a health care expense account  

You must enroll during open enrollment each year for the following year. You choose an amount to set aside for the year and the entire amount is available to you January 1. For 2018, you can set aside up to $2,650 per employee.

You don’t have to take part in the county's medical, dental or vision plan to have a health care expense account. 

If you have a life event mid-year (like a marriage, birth, death, etc.) you can change the amount you set aside.   

Change the amount you set aside (DOC)  

Using your account 

Keep all your receipts. If asked, you must turn in your receipts by November 30.  

Choose one option for using the money in your account:

  1. Use a pre-paid debit card. See how it works (YouTube)   
  2. Pay out of pocket and submit a reimbursement form. Reimbursement form (PDF)  

You must submit your claims for the current year by March 31 the following year. If you have leftover money, you can use up to $500 of it the next year. You lose any unused money over $500.

Dependent care assistance program

You can set aside pre-tax dollars for certain day care and elder care costs. If you’re married, you and your spouse must be working, attending school full time or looking for work.

A family can set aside up to $5,000 per year. If you’re married and filing taxes separately, you can set aside up to $2,500 per year.

Eligible expenses

  • Care for a child under age 13
  • Care for someone who can’t care for themselves and who lives with you more than half the year
  • In-home child care
  • Licensed day care
  • Preschool
  • Before- and after-school care
  • Elder care 

Kindergarten fees aren’t covered. 

For questions call 121 Benefits at 612-877-4321 or 1-800-300-1672.

Enrollment and changes

You can enroll during open enrollment. If you have a life event mid-year, you can enroll mid-year or make changes. Mid-year change form (DOC).

You can make changes within 30 days of: 

  • Date your daycare began or ended
  • Date your daycare began with a new provider
  • Change in cost or coverage with your previous provider

Reimbursement

You can turn in claims for expenses you had from January 1 to December 31. You have until March 15 to turn in claims for the previous year. You give up any unused funds. Reimbursement form (PDF) 

Adoption assistance program

You can set aside pre-tax dollars for certain adoption costs.

You can set aside up to $12,000 per year.

Eligible expenses

  • Attorney fees
  • Court costs
  • Counseling fees
  • Travel fees

For questions, contact 121 Benefits at 612-877-4321 or 1-800-300-1672.

U.S. adoptions

If the child is a U.S. citizen or resident of the U.S., you can be reimbursed even if the adoption never becomes final. 

Foreign adoptions

If the child is not a U.S. citizen or resident, you can’t be reimbursed unless the adoption becomes final. 

Enrollment and changes

You can enroll during open enrollment. If you have a life event mid-year, you can enroll mid-year or make changes. Mid-year change form (DOC).

You can make changes at these times:

  • Start or end of the adoption process
  • Increase in the number of children you intend to adopt 

Reimbursement

You can turn in claims for expenses you had from January 1 to December 31. You have until March 15 to turn in claims. You give up any unused funds.

For reimbursement contact 121 Benefits at 612-877-4321 or 1-800-300-1672. 

Parking flexible spending account

This program is a way for you to set aside pre-tax dollars for vehicle 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 $260 (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

To enroll, change your deduction amount, or stop participation, complete the vehicle 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 and parking lots without receipts 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

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. 

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.

Changing your participation

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

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 and should include:

  • Your name
  • Employee ID number
  • The reason (from the above list) for your change and the date of the change

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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