You have a Flexible Spending Account (FSA), which allows you to save pre-taxed money to help you cover many approved medical expenses. Now, you are ready to use it, but are unsure where to begin.

The good news is your FSA is easy to use and can help you get that much-needed eye exam or that new pair of reading glasses for work. The bad news is that you need to make sure to redeem all of your funds by the end of the calendar year or you will lose them. So, let’s get to spending, shall we?

↓ Click to enlarge infographic ↓How Do I Redeem My FSA Dollars?

What can you get with your FSA?

You can use your FSA funds to pay for eligible out-of-pocket healthcare costs, which include vision care products and services. Eye doctor visits, copays, and eye exams are all covered. Reading glasses and accessories contact lenses; and prescription glasses and sunglasses are also considered eligible expenses. Even LASIK surgery is on the list. For a complete list of FSA-approved services and products, contact your plan provider.

How can I pay for eligible expenses?

Most providers give members an FSA card to pay for eligible products and services. Once the card is activated, you use it the same way you would a bank-issued credit or debit card. Transactions are instantly verified. Most drugstores even have a system in place that filters out non-eligible expenses so you can pay for your eligible expenses in the same transaction as non-eligible items. Plus, you can also use your card to pay a copay at an eye doctor’s office and for eligible online purchases, including reading glasses and accessories.

Don’t forget to save the receipt, though. FSA cards may make managing your purchases and funds easier, but your employer may still request that you submit a paper receipt for a purchase.

How do I get reimbursed?

While the FSA card is far and away the easiest way to pay for eligible expenses, it’s also not the only option. You can also pay for expenses out of your own pocket and submit receipts for reimbursement. Sometimes, this is necessary when a store or website doesn’t accept FSA cards or if your provider doesn’t offer them (Yes! accepts FSA cards as payment).

Most FSA providers make the reimbursement process relatively pain-free. If you have access to a computer and a smartphone, simply follow the provider’s instructions for logging onto their online FSA platform.

There, you will see a section or a button prompting you to file a new claim. Each system varies, but they will all ask you to provide the date of the transaction and a copy of the receipt. Don’t have a scanner? No problem. You can also take a photo of the receipt using your mobile phone.

If your provider doesn’t accept photos, download an app like Camscanner that converts an image into a portable document format (PDF). Once you’ve completed the requested information and uploaded a copy of the receipt, you’ll receive a check in the mail shortly afterward.

Spending your FSA money is so easy that you may quickly start adding more and more items to your shopping list. Don’t forget that purchases like reading glasses, contacts, and even sunglasses can be eligible expenses. If you need a last-minute idea for using the rest of your annual balance before the end of the year, consider upgrading your eyewear or buying a new pair of readers to last you through the year.

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