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Final FSA deadline is March 15

By Kay Bell · Bankrate.com
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Posted: 2 pm ET

 If you have a medical flexible spending account at work and you didn't spend all the money in that account by Dec. 31, 2010, you might have a second chance to do so.

The flexible spending account, or FSA, is a company-provided benefit. It allows workers to put money into an account before taxes are withheld. Then that pretax money can be used to pay for eligible expenses.

Common FSA plans are for child care expenses and medical costs that workers pay out of their own pockets.

FSAs are popular and easy to use since contributions to the accounts are made automatically through payroll withholding. But there's a big drawback. If you don't use the money by the end of your company's benefit year, which in most cases coincides with the calendar year, you lose the funds.

However, some workplaces give their employees a grace period to use up excess medical FSA funds. In these cases, workers have until March 15 to spend the FSA dollars. After that date, though, the money goes back to your employer.

Check with your benefits office about whether you have this extra time to use up your 2010 medical FSA money. If so, get to work using it up now!

Get a new pair of glasses. Get your teeth cleaned. Visit a chiropractor. There are lots of ways you can spend down your excess FSA.

One option, however, is no longer available.

When 2011 arrived, the ability to spend FSA money on over-the-counter medicine vanished -- unless you have a prescription from your doctor for the on-the-shelf treatments.

But I'm sure you can figure out ways to spend your FSA. So get to it!

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