FSA Reimbursement: 9 Qualified Expenses You May Not Know About

Qualified FSA ExpensesIf you participate in a Flexible Spending Account (FSA), there may be some qualified FSA expenses you didn’t know about.

Healthcare FSAs allow you to use pre-tax money to pay for a wide variety of medical, dental and health-related products and services, including many over-the-counter items.

Most people are familiar with common medical expenses, such as doctor visits, surgery and other medical procedures, prescription medicines, as well as dental, vision, chiropractic and mental health services. But you may be surprised to learn about the following products and services that also qualify as legitimate FSA expenses.

9 FSA-Qualified Expenses You May Not Know About

  1. Guide dogs/service animals. FSA plans reimburse the costs of buying, training, and maintaining a guide dog (or other service animal) as long as they are used to assist people with visual, hearing or other physical disabilities. Maintenance costs can include food, grooming, and other veterinary expenses incurred as part of keeping the animal healthy so that it can effectively perform its duties.
  1. Braille reading material. You can claim part – but not all – of the costs for purchasing Braille books and magazines for a visually impaired person. Specifically, FSAs will reimburse the difference between the purchase price of the regular printed edition and the higher cost of a Braille edition. 
  1. Auto adaptation expenses.  Disabled persons who require hand steering controls and other special equipment in order to drive can claim these as FSA-eligible expenses. These costs can also include the difference between the cost of a regular car and one designed to hold a wheelchair. 
  1. Television closed captioning. Most modern TVs include the ability to close-caption as part of their built-in features. However, if you own an older set that requires an external adapter to add this visual feature, you can include it as a medical expense. In some cases, you can also claim the difference between the cost of a specially equipped television set and that of the same model television set that doesn’t offer closed captioning. 
  1. Special telephone equipment. If you or a family member are deaf, hard of hearing, or have a speech disability, you can claim the costs of special equipment that allows you to communicate using a telephone. This includes teletypewriters and other telecommunications devices for the deaf, as well as any repair costs required to keep the equipment in good working order. 
  1. Wigs. If you have lost part or all of your hair due to disease or medical treatment (such as radiation or chemotherapy), purchasing a wig qualifies for FSA reimbursement.
  1. Smoking cessation programs. The costs of a stop-smoking program qualify as FSA medical expenses, but not any over-the-counter treatments that may be part of the program’s treatment process. FSAs cannot reimburse for skin patches, nicotine gum, or other stop smoking products unless they are prescribed by a physician. 
  1. Lead-based paint removal. The IRS considers the costs of removing lead-based paints from home walls and surfaces as a qualified expense if the following conditions are met:

• The removal prevents a child who has or had lead poisoning from eating the paint

• The surfaces have peeling, cracking or flaking paint

• The child can easily reach the lead paint (i.e. you can’t claim paint removal from a ceiling)

Expenses involved in repainting the scraped area (labor and paint) do not qualify as a medical expense. Covering the leaded area with wallboard or paneling instead of removing the paint qualifies as a capital expense, rather than a medical expense.

  1. Transportation. Transportation costs to and from medical care – including bus, taxi, train and air fares, ambulance service and any costs incurred by a parent who must take their child to medical care – qualify as medical expenses. Adults unable to travel alone can also claim transportation costs for a nurse or other person who can give injections, medications, or other treatments while on the way to receive medical care. You can also claim transportation costs for regular visits to a mentally ill dependent as long as the visits are recommended as a part of treatment.

The more you know about eligible FSA expenses, the more money you can save. For a full list of FSA-eligible expenses, see IRS Publication 502 or consult your FSA administrator.

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