Fedweek

Federal employees with dependent care flexible spending accounts may be eligible to change their allotments to those accounts due to changes in their work related to the Coronavirus, OPM has said.

Generally, elections to FSAs are made in the annual benefits open season each fall, but changes to those elections are permitted at other times if a participant experiences a “qualifying life event.” Two such events that may be pertinent, OPM said in a message to agencies, are “a change in employment status for you, your spouse or dependent” and “a change in cost or coverage of your dependent care services.”

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“The change to an account must be consistent with the reason for the change,” it said. “For example, if a dependent care provider is no longer providing care (i.e., before/after care/daycare closes, summer day camp cancels or care is no longer needed), the election can be reduced. Similarly, if you need supplemental child or adult care due to an increase in hours worked, you may increase your election.”

In a dependent care account, a participant may set aside up to $5,000 pre-tax per year for certain child care or elder care purposes, with a requirement that the amount be used no later than March 15 of the following year or else be subject to forfeit.

Changes in allotments due to life events can be made at www.fsafeds.com or (877) 372-3337.

The message did not address health care FSAs, which are separate accounts.

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2020 Federal Employees Handbook