Flexible Spending Accounts

Optum Financial (formerly ConnectYourCare) administers two types of FSAs —  Health Care FSA and Dependent Care Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) — and employees can elect to participate in one or both of these accounts.  FSAs allow Rensselaer employees to reduce their taxable income by setting aside pre-tax dollars from each paycheck to pay for eligible out-of-pocket health care and dependent care expenses for themselves and their family.

Employees must re-enroll each year in order to participate in the FSA, and their annual contribution will stay in effect during the entire calendar year of January 1 through December 31. Employees can only change their FSA election during Rensselaer’s Open Enrollment period, or if they experience a qualifying status change event.

Optum Financial (formerly ConnectYourCare) makes it quick and easy for Rensselaer employees to access their FSA accounts online. By registering for access employees can view their account balance, claim instructions and payment status online or via the mobile app on their cellphone. You'll need to register using the HealthSafe ID process.

The simplest way for employees to access their Health Care FSA funds is to use their payment card at a qualified merchant or health care provider's office, like any other credit or debit card to pay for the eligible expense.

Alternatively, employees may pay for purchases with personal funds and submit a claim online to request reimbursement. Doing this allows employees to use their own personal credit card, cash, or check and keep their itemized receipt as documentation. Employees may then log on to their online account to file for reimbursement and upload any relevant purchase documentation.

You can also use Health Care FSA funds to purchase eligible items online for home delivery. Look for the Optum Store link in the Tools and Resources section of your online FSA account and use your payment card to complete the purchase.  

Health Care FSAs help Rensselaer employees stretch their budget for eligible health care expenses for themselves and their dependents by allowing the employee to pay for these expenses using tax-free dollars. This benefit allows employees to set aside up to $3,050 in 2024, which is deducted out of their pay throughout the year on a pre-tax basis and use these funds to pay for eligible health expenses such as deductibles, copays, coinsurance and many over-the-counter items and treatments. Employees can use the FSA for eligible expenses for themselves, their spouse, and their dependent children (up to age 26), even if they are not covered under Rensselaer's medical, dental or vision plan. In 2024, unused HCSA funds up to $640 will be carried over into the following plan year.

Funds remaining in your FSA at the end of the plan year (December 31, 2024) will be forfeited. This is most often known as the “use-it-or-lose-it” rule. Faculty and Staff have until March 31, 2025 to submit claims for eligible expenses incurred in 2024. Optum will then recalculate account balances in April and make funds available for use for expenses in 2025.

Employees who submit a claim can be reimbursed up to their full annual election, less any previous reimbursement. Please note that health insurance premiums paid for by your employer’s plan or by other health insurance coverage are not eligible for reimbursement.

The Dependent Care FSA allows Rensselaer employees to pay for eligible dependent care expenses with tax-free dollars. Under this FSA, employees who are married and file a joint tax return may set aside up to $5,000 annually in pre‑tax dollars; employees who are married but file taxes separately from their spouse may set aside up to $2,500 each.

Contributing to a Dependent Care FSA allows employees to pay dependent care expenses so that they and their spouse can work, look for work, or attend school full-time. This FSA also includes daycare at centers or individual daycare locations, before and after-school care, summer day camp, and elder care.

Eligible FSA expenses include care for:

  • A dependent child under the age of 13 that the employee can claim as a dependent for tax purposes
  • A dependent child who resides with the employee and who is physically or mentally incapable of caring for him/herself
  • A spouse or parent who is physically or mentally incapable of caring for him/herself

Employees who submit a claim can only be reimbursed up to the amount they have contributed to date, less any previous reimbursements, and may only receive reimbursements for services already incurred. Note that an expense is considered to be incurred when a service is received, and not when a bill is paid. Even though the service provider may require payment at the beginning of the service period, employees cannot request reimbursement until after the service is provided. In addition, the employee’s dependent care provider must be an individual whom the employee does not claim as a dependent on their tax return.

Use Optum's Eligible Expense Tool to view qualified expenses:

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