Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account (DCFSA)

The dependent care flexible spending account (DCFSA) reimburses dependent care expenses necessary while you (and your spouse, if you're married) are attending school on a full-time basis or working. Typically, these would be day care expenses for children age 12 and under, but you can also use this account to reimburse care for dependents who are physically or mentally unable to care for themselves, such as spouses, parents, or grandparents.  Your dependent must live in your home at least eight hours a day.

Eligible expenses include care provided in a day care facility or in the home*, and may include nursey school, pre-school, and before- and after-school care for children in kindergarten and higher.

*For care in the home, the provider cannot be the DCFSA participant’s child who is under 19 or anyone that the DCFSA participant can claim as a tax dependent.

You may incur eligible expenses at any time between the opening of your DCFSA and 12/31 of that plan year, even if you leave the university or your number of work hours is reduced to a level ineligible for benefits. Claims for reimbursement must be submitted to PayFlex no later than 3/31 of the following calendar year.  Any funds remaining in your account after that time will be forfeited.

IRS limitations on flexible spending accounts

  • Expenses reimbursed from an FSA cannot be claimed as part of the dependent care tax credit on your tax return.
  • Only expenses actually incurred during the eligibility period (opening of the account to 12/31 of that calendar year) are eligible for reimbursement. Expenses incurred before or after the eligibility period are not eligible, regardless of when you paid for the expenses. FSAs may not reimburse for future or projected expenses.
  • If you do not use all the pre-tax dollars in your flexible spending account by the filing deadline, you forfeit the amount left over. That's an Internal Revenue Service requirement.

Changes to your Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account

Certain qualifying life events will allow you to add, drop, or change your DCFSA election in the middle of the year accordingly:

  • Significant change in cost (may change contribution amount)
  • Change in coverage

The need for care arises, such as returning to work after maternity leave (may enroll)

The need for care drops, such as a parent is now able to stay home with the dependent (may decline)

If you need to add, drop, or change your account due to one of these reasons, please contact hr@purdue.edu with the circumstance and your desired change.

Claim filing tips from PayFlex®

For 2018: Eligible 2018 DCFSA expenses may be incurred between Jan. 1, 2018 or date account is first opened through Dec. 31, 2018 even if you terminate your account during the plan year such as with a change in family status or if you leave Purdue University. You have until March 31, 2019, to submit your claims for reimbursement. Any funds remaining in your account after March 31, 2019, will be forfeited, so it is important to estimate your expenses carefully.

For 2017: Eligible 2017 DCFSA expenses may be incurred between Jan. 1, 2017 or date account is first opened through Dec. 31, 2017 even if you terminate your account during the plan year such as with a change in family status or if you leave Purdue University. You have until March 31, 2018, to submit your claims for reimbursement. Any funds remaining in your account after March 31, 2018, will be forfeited, so it is important to estimate your expenses carefully.

Dependent care services must have been provided or received before you file a claim:

FSAs may not reimburse for future or projected expenses.  This means in order to get reimbursed for dependent care expenses, the services need to have been provided or received when filing a claim. 

For example, if you pre-pay for a month of daycare services, you cannot get reimbursed for your expenses until that month has passed/the dependent has received the services.  Similarly, if you pre-pay for a summer day camp, you cannot get reimbursed for your expenses until your dependent attends the camp.

If your FSA balance is more than the claim amount:

If your available balance is more than the amount of your claim, then the entire claim is marked for payment. If you have enrolled in direct deposit, the full amount of the claim will be deposited into your bank account.  Otherwise, a check will be issued to you.

If your FSA balance is less than the claim amount:

If your available balance is less than the amount of your claim, you will only be reimbursed for the amount that is available in your dependent day care account. However, when the next contribution is made to the your dependent care flexible spending account, you will then be reimbursed for the remainder of the claim as allowed, up to the amount of the deposit. This process automatically continues until the entire claim has been paid or until the annual election amount has been met.

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