Carnegie Mellon University

Spending Accounts

Carnegie Mellon offers both a Health Care Flexible Spending Account (HCFSA) and a Dependent Care Reimbursement Account (DCRA) to help you lower your health and dependent care expenses by paying with tax-free money. You may enroll in either the HCFSA or DCRA, enroll in both accounts, or opt out of the accounts. Our spending accounts are administered by Benefit Coordinators Corporation (BCC).


You must be full-time benefits eligible (37.5 scheduled hours per week) to enroll. Members of the Campus Police Association must be scheduled to work 40 hours per week to be eligible.

You must make a new election each year to participate. Elections do not roll over from year to year.

  1. Determine your expected out-of-pocket expenses that you will incur in health or dependent care costs. 
  2. Carefully estimate the amount you will set aside into each kind of account each month. Try to contribute enough to cover most of your expected expenses (since it saves you money), but not more than you will use. What you do not use, you will lose, as per IRS regulations.
  3. Each month, the amount you selected will be deducted from your pay before taxes are assessed.
  4. Throughout the year, you will incur eligible health or dependent care expenses. You may pay for them out-of-pocket or with an FSA debit card.
  5. For expenses that you pay out-of-pocket, file claims to reimburse yourself with your tax-free money.
  6. Claims incurred during the plan year should be submitted to Benefit Coordinators Corporation by June 30 following the end of the plan year.
    • For the HCFSA, the plan year is the calendar year plus a two-and-a-half month grace period (for example, from January 1, 2022–March 15, 2023).
    • For the DCRA, the plan year is the calendar year.

You can save up to 25% on the money you spend on eligible expenses by contributing to the spending accounts on a pre-tax basis. However, you should be aware of the other financial implications of using these accounts.

  • State income taxes: Pennsylvania does not recognize pre-tax benefit contributions for the Dependent Care Reimbursement Account. Therefore, the money you contribute to a DCRA will be subject to state taxes. HCFSA contributions are exempt from state taxes, as well as federal taxes.
  • Impact on Social Security: When you reduce your taxable income for Social Security purposes, you may also reduce by a small amount what you may claim in Social Security benefits at retirement.
  • Earned Income Tax Credit: Paying for benefits on a pre-tax basis may put employees who are eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit [pdf] at a disadvantage when they file for federal income tax credits.

FSA Comparison

Contribution Limits Between $60 and $2,850/year Between $300 and $5,000¹/year
Plan Year Calendar year plus a 2.5-month grace period
(Jan 1, 2022–Mar 15, 2023)
Calendar year
(Jan 1, 2022–Dec 31, 2022)
Deadline to Request Reimbursement June 30, 2023
Eligible Expenses Health care Day care/Elder care
¹$2,500 if married, filing separately

Submitting Claims to BCC

Submit claims incurred during the plan year to BCC using the claims procedure described below. Claims must be received by June 30 following the end of the plan year.

  • For the Health Care Flexible Spending Account (HCFSA), the plan year is the calendar year plus a two-and-a-half month grace period (for example, from January 1, 2022–March 15, 2023).
  • For the Dependent Care Reimbursement Account (DCRA), the plan year is the calendar year.

HCFSA and DCRA participants can use a BCC MasterCard Debit Card to pay for eligible expenses. Use it just like a credit/debit card at any provider or store that accepts this form of payment. Using the card eliminates the need to pay for expenses out of pocket and submit claims for reimbursement. In some cases, supporting documentation will still be required, so keep receipts and explanation of benefit forms. If documentation is needed to substantiate your expense, you will be notified by BCC.

The card is easy to use:

  1. If the provider or store accepts debit/credit cards for payment, simply use the card to pay for the expense like you would with any other debit/credit card. 
  2. If you are purchasing items from larger chain stores (Giant Eagle, Target, Walmart, etc.), swipe the card at the register, even at self-checkout stations.
  3. If you have non-FSA eligible items (like clothing or groceries) along with eligible items (like medications or contact lens solution), just swipe the FSA debit card first. The system knows which expenses are eligible and will pay for only those. It will ask you for another form of payment for the rest of your purchase.
  4. Your card will be preloaded with your annual HCFSA election, and/or with each pay with your DCRA contribution. Expenses will be automatically deducted as you use the card.
  5. Access My SmartCare to check balances and claims.

When you do not or cannot use the FSA debit card, you must pay for the expense from your own pocket and then submit a claim for reimbursement.

  1. Complete BCC’s Reimbursement Request Form [pdf].
  2. Attach the required back-up documents.
    • For Health Care Reimbursement, attach an Explanation of Benefits statement from your insurance carrier plus an itemized receipt from the provider.
      • You must first submit expenses to your healthcare, dental or vision insurance carrier before you can request a reimbursement from a Flexible Spending Account Plan. The insurance carrier will process the claim and issue an Explanation of Benefits that shows how much is paid under the terms of your plan and how much is your responsibility.
      • By law, BCC cannot accept a credit card receipt or a canceled check in lieu of the itemized receipt from your doctor, lab, pharmacy, etc.
    • For Dependent Care Reimbursement, attach a signed receipt from the daycare provider that includes:
      • The dates services were rendered
      • The provider’s Social Security or tax ID number
      • The provider’s address
  3. Send your completed Reimbursement Request Form and the appropriate back-up documents to:
    Benefit Coordinators Corporation
  4. BCC will process your claim and issue a check that is mailed to your home address. You may also request the direct deposit option.