Contact PayFlex

(888) 678-7821
P.O. Box 4000
Richmond, KY
40476-4000

Contact Benefit Services

East Hill Office Building, First Floor
395 Pine Tree Road
Ithaca, NY 14853
(607) 255-3936
benefits@cornell.edu

Flexible Spending Accounts

Alert: New Federal Regulations on Flexible Spending Accounts

Access your FSA account through PayFlex:

If you are enrolling in an FSA for the first time in 2014 (includes 2014 child care grant awardees), the first time that you can set up your account with PayFlex will be during the first week in January 2014. PayFlex will not have 2014 account information until the first week in January.

Follow the instructions below to access your FSA account if you have never registered with PayFlex. If you have registered with PayFlex in the past, use the username and password that you selected during the registration process.

Instructions to follow if you are registering on the PayFlex website for the first time:

Log on to PayFlex's site. Click on register, enter your SSN (one time only) and enter the zip code of your home address. You will then be able to create your unique userid and password on the next screen that you see. Remember to enroll in direct deposit and email notification to manage your account more easily.

PayFlex Debit Cards

Once you have enrolled in the medical care account, you will be issued a PayFlex Debit card that will be good for five (5) years. Your annual enrollment will be loaded to the card for each year that you participate. You may request additional cards via the website or by calling PayFlex toll free at (888) 678-7821. You can swipe the debit card to pay for your copay at your physician's office and the drug store.

Do not swipe your card at a provider's office if the service provided needs to be submitted to your insurance company first. For example, you or your dental provider should submit the dental expense to your dental insurance company first. Once you receive the Explanation of Benefits (EOB) from the insurance company, you can then use your PayFlex card to pay for the portion that you owe your dentist. You will need to submit the EOB to PayFlex to substantiate the claim.

There is no requirement to use the debit card; you may destroy it and, if you decide in the future that you would like one, you can request one from PayFlex.

  • Submitting Claims
    Incur expenses from January 1 - March 15, 2014 to use any remaining 2013 money. Deadline to submit 2013 expenses for reimbursement to PayFlex is April 30, 2014.

How Health Reform Affects Flexible Spending Accounts

When national health care reform was passed in March 2010, the law included three provisions that affect users of Cornell’s flexible spending account plan. If you participate in a flexible spending account or think you may participate in the coming years, please look over the descriptions of the provisions that change what medical flexible spending accounts can do for you.

  • As of March 30, 2010, flexible spending account participants may include medical expenses for reimbursement for children between the ages of 19 and 26. The child does not have to be your tax dependent, living with you, remain single, be a full time student, or be on your health insurance plan with Cornell.
  • As of January 1, 2011, flexible spending account participants are no longer able to submit claims for over the counter (OTC) medications unless you have a specific prescription written by your physician or other legally qualified professional able to write formal prescriptions.
  • As of January 1, 2013, flexible spending account participants will have to limit their annual medical commitment to $2,500 per employee.

What is a flexible spending account?

Medical, dental, and vision expenses can sometimes put a strain on your monthly finances, even if you have insurance coverage. The same is true for dependent care expenses if you need childcare or care for elderly parents. Cornell understands this and offers voluntary flexible spending accounts for medical and dependent care reimbursements. These accounts are not insurance coverage. They help you reduce your out-of-pocket expenses by taking advantage of a federal law that gives you an immediate tax break when paying for services covered under the program – services that you have to pay for anyway.

The flexible spending accounts program is one of the greatest tax breaks available for middle-income families. Depending on your tax situation, you stand to gain at least 30 cents on every dollar you deposit into the account, based on tax savings.

These accounts work pretty simply. You put money into either or both accounts through payroll deduction before your taxes are calculated and deducted. This means you save on your federal income taxes and Social Security taxes. In most, but not all, states you will save on state income taxes, too! When you have an eligible expense, you file a claim. You are then reimbursed with tax-free money.

Medical Care Reimbursement Account

Funds accumulated in the Medical Care Reimbursement Account can be used to pay for medical, dental, and vision charges that generally are deductible expenses for federal income tax purposes (such as eye glasses, hearing aids, health plan deductibles and dental out-of-pocket expenses). The Medical Care Reimbursement Account will reimburse you for approved expenses even if your payroll deductions have yet to reach the account. So, you can be reimbursed for expenses that occur on or after January 1, up to the total amount that you have committed to this account for the plan year.

Dependent Care Reimbursement Account

Expenses incurred for dependent care services that allow you and your spouse to work are eligible for reimbursement under the Dependent Care Reimbursement Account. Eligible expenses for your child (under age 13), disabled spouse, or other disabled dependent include the cost of daycare centers, private babysitters, and nursery schools.

The Dependent Care Reimbursement Account differs from the Medical Care Reimbursement Account in that, in the Dependent Care Reimbursement Account, you must have funds deposited before you can be reimbursed for expenses.

IRS Eases the “Use-it-or-lose-it” Rule!

You should assess your needs carefully for both the medical care and dependent care flexible spending accounts and take advantage of all the tax savings you can reasonably estimate. You must use all the funds you have allocated to your flexible spending account to reimburse eligible expenses or you will lose those funds. This is an IRS regulation that cannot be circumvented.

However, the IRS allows Cornell to extend the time that flexible spending account participants can incur and submit claims for reimbursement. This regulatory change means that you, as a flexible spending account participant, have more time to use your medical care and/or dependent care accounts. For example, if your 2014 dependent care annual amount is $5,000, you have until March 15, 2015 to incur additional expenses that can be used for reimbursement against your 2014 annual amount. You need to submit claims for reimbursement by April 30, 2015, otherwise the “use-it-or-lose-it” rule comes into effect and you will lose the unused funds. It is important that you submit 2014 claims prior to submitting 2015 claims so that 2014 monies will be exhausted prior to 2015 monies being used.