Flexible Spending Accounts 2011 Open Season: November 7–December 25

The 2011 Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) Open Season is scheduled for November 7 through December 25, 2011, 5:00 p.m. Central Time (CT). Eligible career employees who elect to participate in the FSA program must enroll via PostalEASE during this time. Enrollments made during this FSA Open Season are effective for the 2012 plan year — January 1 through December 31, 2012 — plus a grace period that extends until March 15, 2013, for all employees who are still participating as of December 31, 2012. FSA participation ends sooner for participants who separate or have extended leave without pay.

FSAs allow employees to set aside a portion of their pre-tax earnings for certain types of out-of-pocket health care and dependent care expenses. The money withheld for FSAs is not subject to income, Medicare, or Social Security taxes. United Healthcare administers the FSA program for the Postal Service™.

The booklet FSA BK1, Flexible Spending Accounts (November 2011), which is being mailed to all employees, provides an overview of FSAs.

Grace Period Still in Effect

Employees with FSAs — for Health Care, Dependent Care, or both — are able to use any balance remaining in an FSA at the end of the plan year to cover expenses incurred during the 2 ½ months following that plan year. For the 2011 plan year, the grace period extends until March 15, 2012. For the 2012 plan year, the grace period will extend until March 15, 2013. With the grace period, employees do not have to schedule services or procure items in an end-of-year rush to avoid losing money in the account. Of course, participants have to spend the previ­ous year’s balance by March 15 or forfeit the money under the use-it-or-lose-it rule.

The grace period is available only to FSA participants who are still enrolled on December 31 of the plan year. Most FSA participants remain enrolled through December 31, but an employee who exceeds eight consecutive pay periods of leave without pay or separates from employ­ment before that date (on December 30, for example) is not eligible for the grace period.

The deadline for filing claims has not changed — the FSA Customer Service Center must receive all claims by September 30 of the year after the plan year.

For full details, refer to FSA BK1, Flexible Spending Accounts (November 2011).

Using PostalEASE to Enroll

To enroll in FSA during open season, employees have four options:

1. Go to https://liteblue.usps.gov and click PostalEASE.

2. Use an employee self-service kiosk and click PostalEASE.

3. Go to http://blue.usps.gov, under “Essential Links,” click PostalEASE.

4. Call the Employee Service Line toll-free at 877-477-3273 and press 1 for PostalEASE.



To publicize FSA Open Season, all offices must post the open season notice on bulletin boards through December 25, 2011. See page 43.

Direct Mailings to Employees

Headquarters Compensation is coordinating FSA Open Season mailings to career employees at their mailing addresses of record. Employees receive a leaflet, post­cards, and an enrollment kit consisting of an FSA brochure, a PostalEASE FSA worksheet, and a withdrawal request form. See details on page 35 “Open Season Materials, Direct Mailings to Career Employees.”

Undeliverable mailed kits are returned to the employing office of record. When an office receives a returned kit, the office should encourage the employee to update his or her address. Employees with access to Employee Change of Address at https://liteblue.usps.gov, on the Postal Service Intranet Blue page, or at an employee self-service kiosk should use those entry methods.

Employees who cannot use the Internet, Intranet, or a kiosk should submit an updated PS Form 1216, Employee’s Current Mailing Address, to the Human Resources Shared Services Center (HRSSC). See ordering information on page 35 under “Additional Supplies of Materials.”

Review of Basic FSA Provisions

Eligibility to Participate

Participation in the FSA program is limited to career employees. To enroll, a career employee must have com­pleted at least 26 full pay periods of Postal Service career service during the current appointment by the end of Pay Period (PP) 26-11 (December 16, 2011). A career employee who is in a leave without pay (LWOP) status that has lasted for eight consecutive full pay periods as of December 16, 2011, is not eligible to participate in the FSA program, unless he or she is returning from uniformed military service.

Election Opportunities — Health Care and Dependent Care FSAs

Eligible career employees may elect to participate in one, or both, of two FSAs — the Health Care FSA and the Dependent Care FSA. Each FSA covers eligible expenses for services that are received during the employee’s period of participation during the 2012 plan year (for most employ­ees this will be January 1, 2012, through March 15, 2013). Annual contributions to the Dependent Care FSA are lim­ited to $5,000 for a family and $2,500 for a married employee filing a separate income tax return. FSA BK1, Flexible Spending Accounts, describes eligible and ineligi­ble expenses and provides guidelines for estimating 2012 expenses.

Reminder: Health care expenses for dependents must be included in the Health Care FSA contribution amount and not in the Dependent Care FSA.

Withholding of FSA Contributions

Contributions for each FSA are withheld in equal amounts through payroll deductions covering 26 pay peri­ods (PP 01-12 through PP 26-12). The minimum annual contribution employees may make to either FSA is $130 ($5 per pay period).

Qualifying Life Event Enrollment and Elections

Participants may neither cancel enrollments nor change contribution levels during the plan year except following qualifying life events, as explained in FSA BK1, Flexible Spending Accounts. In those cases, HRSSC specialists determine a participant’s eligibility to enroll or to change contribution levels during the plan year and respond to employee inquiries about that eligibility.

New Address and Fax Number for FSA Claims

Participants should mail or fax Form FSA1, Flexible Spending Account (FSA) Withdrawal Request, directly to the FSA Customer Service Center as explained on Form FSA1.

Use of 711 for Employees Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing

Employees who are deaf or hard of hearing may call the FSA Customer Service Center number, 800-842-2026, via 711, the Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS).

Changes to the FSA Debit Card.

The following changes have been made for the FSA debit card: UnitedHealthcare has begun replacing the blue Consumer Accounts Card with the new white Health Care Spending Card. Both cards work exactly the same and may be used for certain expenses for the Health Care FSA and the Dependent Care FSA.

A participant may take an over-the-counter (OTC) pre­scription to a pharmacist to be filled and have a prescrip­tion number assigned, and then use the card to pay for it.

A participant may use the Consumer Accounts Card or Health Care Spending Card for some mail order prescrip­tion providers, including Caremark and Medco.

Open Season Materials

Direct Mailings to Career Employees

The following items are mailed to each career employee at his or her mailing address of record during the FSA Open Season:

n Publicity postcards, as follows:

n A postcard with instructions on how to obtain a USPS® Personal Identification Number (PIN).

n Postcards on other topics, such as using FSAs to cover over-the-counter medications and other eli­gible expenses.

n A postcard with a reminder of the closing date.

n FSA LF1, Flexible Spending Accounts Overview (October 2011). This leaflet provides an overview of the advantages of the FSA program.

n An enrollment kit that includes the following items:

n FSA BK1, Flexible Spending Accounts (November 2011), a brochure that explains plan policies and provisions.

n The FSA PostalEASE worksheet.

n FSA1, Flexible Spending Account (FSA) With­drawal Request (November 2011), a form used to request withdrawal of funds from an FSA for pay­ment of eligible expenses for services received during the period of participation.

Additional Supplies of Materials

Residual materials will not be distributed to field offices.

PS Form 1216 is available from the Material Distribution Center (MDC). Order by using touch-tone order entry (TTOE): Call 800-273-1509.

Note: You must be registered to use TTOE. To register, call 800-332-0317, option 1, extension 2925, and follow the prompts to leave a message. (Wait 48 hours after register­ing before placing your first order.)

Use the following information to order PS Form 1216:

PSIN: PS1216

PSN: 7530-02-000-7354

Unit of Measure: SE

Quick Pick Number: 118

Bulk Pack Quantity: 4,000

Minimum Order Quantity: 1

Price: $0.0201

Edition Date: 11/08

Further Information

FSA Customer Service Center Toll-Free Hotline

Employees with questions should call the FSA Cus­tomer Service Center’s toll-free hotline at 800-842-2026. After enrolling, participants may use the hotline to do the following:

n Make account inquiries.

n Discuss expenses that are eligible for payment through the FSA program.

n Obtain other plan information.

Employees who are deaf or hard of hearing may call the FSA Customer Service Center number, 800-842-2026, via 711, the Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS).

Tax Advice

FSA BK1, Flexible Spending Accounts, provides some tax information. Participants with tax questions not addressed in FSA BK1 should contact their tax advisors or call the IRS toll-free information line at 800-TAX-1040 (800-829-1040).