Employee Reimbursement Account (ERA)
Important News for Current ERA Program Participants
Effective January 1, 2013, the maximum annual contribution for the Health Care flexible spending account (FSA) will be lowered to $2,500 (per IRS Notice 2012-40).
Effective July 1, 2012, ERA services moved to a new system supported by WageWorks. Please see the open letter to ERA participants for details about changes to the program effective July 1, 2012. A summary of the changes is below:
- The ERA program transitioned to WageWorks from July 1 - 15, 2012
- Your myFBMC Visa Card was deactivated on June 30, 2012. You should have received a new WageWorks Health Care Card.
- You will need to register for an online account on the new WageWorks website starting on July 1, 2012. Click the "Register with WageWorks now!" link after July 1st to begin the process.
- If you contact WageWorks and are asked for a “pin” number, please use the last four digits of your Social Security number.
For those who participate in the commuter benefit/transit program, please see the open letter to commuter benefit participants for details about how to enroll in benefit in the WageWorks system (your current election will not transfer to the new system).
See ETF's website for additional information.
Background of ERA Program
The Employee Reimbursement Account Program is a voluntary pre-tax flexible spending account (FSA) program for eligible state and university employees authorized under Section 125 of the Internal Revenue Code and Wisconsin Statute 40.85. This program is administered by WageWorks (formerly known as Fringe Benefits Management Company).
The program allows you to set aside pre-tax income to pay eligible medical and dependent care expenses. When you participate, your spendable income increases because less is withheld from your paycheck for federal and state income taxes and social security. During the plan year, your ERA election cannot be cancelled or changed unless you have a valid Change in Status event.
- See ETF's website, the 2013 ERA Plan Booklet and the ERA FAQ for detailed plan information.
- 2012 ERA Plan Booklet
Most University of Wisconsin employees who are receiving salary or wages are eligible. Graduate interns and trainees, fellows, scholars, post doctoral fellows and trainees, limited term employees (LTEs), and students paid on hourly basis may not participate.
ERA application (new hires only). New employees at institutions with eBenefits (employee self-service enrollment) may not enroll online for ERA; you must use a paper application.
Upon enrollment, WageWorks will assign you a unique ID number.
- New employees must enroll no later than 30 days from their employment begin date for participation during the remainder of the current calendar year.
- Each fall employees may enroll for coverage during open enrollment for the following calendar year. Enrollment is for one calendar year. Each year employees must re-enroll.
- Employees may be eligible to change an election amount, enroll in or cancel ERA participation within 30 days of an approved Change in Status event. Employees must submit a Change in Status Form directly to WageWorks for approval within 30 days of the Change in Status event. The IRS defines Change in Status events as those that affect your own, your spouse's or your dependent's coverage eligibility. Some examples include marriage, change in number or eligibility of dependents or change in employment status.
- Participation in the Automatic Premium Conversion component is automatic, unless you file a waiver with your employer.
You must re-enroll in the ERA program every year – participation in the Health Care FSA and/or the Dependent Care FSA does NOT automatically continue. These plans allow you to set aside a specific sum of money on a pre-tax basis to pay for medical and dependent care expenses.
There is no fee for participation in the ERA program. However, you will forfeit any money left in your account after all reimbursements for the plan year have been processed. It cannot be returned to you or carried forward to the next plan year. You must file all Health Care FSA and Dependent Care FSA claims by April 15 following the end of the plan year. Plan your deferrals carefully!
The ERA program operates on a calendar-year basis and has three distinct parts.
- Automatic pre-tax conversion of payroll deducted premiums for State Group Health, EPIC Benefits+, Dental Wisconsin, Anthem DentalBlue Dental Insurance, VSP Vision Insurance and a portion of employee coverage under State Group Life Insurance.
- A tax-free Medical Expense Reimbursement Account
- A tax-free Dependent Day Care Reimbursement Account
Use the WageWorks savings calculators to determine your potential tax savings if you participate in the ERA program.
Use WageWorks mobile website to manage your account on your smart phone. You can view past claims submissions and account information. You can also download the EZ Receipts mobile application to file claims and take care of your account paperwork. See the WageWorks website for more information.
- For eligible employees, the premiums you pay for the State Group Health, EPIC Benefits+, Dental Wisconsin, Anthem DentalBlue Dental Insurance, VSP Vision Insurance, and a portion of employee coverage under State Group Life Insurance are automatically deducted from your pre-tax salary unless you opt out of this provision.
- Participation in Premium Conversion is automatic; you do not have to re-enroll each year.
- Premiums you pay for other coverage (other special life or income continuation insurance, for example) are not affected by this plan.
If you are an LTE
or are covering a domestic partner, the IRS does not extend this pre-tax
benefit at this time.
Waiver for Automatic Premium Conversion
If you wish to continue to pay taxes on your premium amounts, fill out an Automatic Premium Conversion Waiver form (ET-2340) and return it to your payroll office. This can only be done at the following times: within 30 days of the date you are first eligible to participate in the ERA program; during the annual ERA open enrollment period; when you first enroll in the State Group Health or State Group Life insurance plans; or when you experience a Change in Status event. Once you have filed a waiver it will remain in effect for future plan years, unless you file a revocation of waiver with your payroll office.
- Tax-free dollars pay for eligible uninsured medical expenses incurred by you, and/or your spouse and dependents.
- Expenses you incur during the plan year are reimbursable.
- Annual contribution limits: $100 minimum and $7,500 maximum in 2012. The annual maximum will be reduced to $2,500 in 2013.
- You will receive a WageWorks Health Care Card that you can present at the time of service. You will not have to submit a claim and wait for reimbursement from your medical account. You do not have to use the payment card but it is an option. Please see the WageWorks Health Care Card FAQ for more information.
- Reimbursable medical expenses must be primarily for the prevention or alleviation of a physical or mental defect or illness. A list of eligible expenses is available on the WageWorks website and in IRS Publication 502.
- Insurance premiums are not reimbursable.
- Coverage is effective on the first of the month on or after your benefits office receives your enrollment form.
- Tax-free dollars pay dependent care expenses for eligible child, adult and elder care expenses enabling you and your spouse to work, actively look for work or attend school full-time.
- The minimum annual contribution is $100. The general contribution maximum limit is $5000 but it may be less due to earnings level and income tax filing status. See page 22 of the enrollment booklet for details.
- Eligibility requirements are explained in IRS Publication 503.
- Coverage is effective on the first of the month on or after your benefits office receives your enrollment form.
You will need to submit a completed reimbursement claim form with supporting documentation directly to WageWorks. You can mail the form or submit it via toll-free fax to 1-888-326-2658.You may also submit your claim form and supporting documentation online at the WageWorks website. You can set up direct deposit through your online WageWorks account to have reimbursements sent directly to your bank account.
If you have questions or concerns about claims processing or the eligibility of specific expenses for reimbursement, call or write WageWorks at:
P. O. Box 1878
Tallahassee, FL 32302-1878
Customer Service Department: 1-800-342-8017
Fax: (850) 425-4608
- Health Care Claim Form
- Health Care Claim Documentation Checklist
- Dependent Care Claim Form
- Commuter Claim Form
NOTE: There is a 2 ½ month "grace period" following the end of each plan year for both medical expense accounts and dependent care accounts. Expenses for services provided through March 15 of the following calendar year may be reimbursed with money remaining from the prior year's ERA medical expense and dependent day care account contributions. However, any unused amounts from the prior plan year that are not used for expenses incurred by March 15 remain subject to the "use it or lose it" rule and will be forfeited.
April 15 is the deadline for filing claims incurred during the prior plan year and through the grace period of March 15.
Facts you should know about your ERA account when your employment terminates or during an unpaid leave of absence:
Medical Expense Accounts
- You can prepay. If you terminate employment during the year or go on unpaid leave of absence, you may pay all or part of your remaining ERA deductions ahead from your last paycheck. You can also pre-pay your medical expense account contributions by personal check through your employer, but the payment would be after-tax. In some cases you are eligible to reduce your pledged amount.
- When coverage ends. If you pre-pay your full annual election amount, your coverage continues until the account is exhausted or until March 15 of the next year, and you can continue to submit claims for reimbursement. If you do not submit entire annual election amount, coverage ends at the end of the month in which your last deduction was taken. You would not be eligible for reimbursement for medical services received after that date. Plan carefully for your medical expenses account when terminating employment.
- Reinstatement. During an unpaid leave of absence, if you do not prepay, your eligibility for reimbursement is suspended. Money remaining in your account will be forfeited unless you return to work and reinstate your account during the same plan year. When you return, you can change your contribution amount or begin an account.
Dependent Care Accounts
- You can pre-pay. Some or all of your annual election amount can be deducted pre-tax from your last paycheck. After-tax contributions by personal check are not permitted.
- When coverage ends. Even if you do not pre-pay, your dependent care coverage continues until the account is exhausted or until March 15 of the next year. You can continue to submit claims for services received until that date.
- Reinstatement. If you return to work after an unpaid leave of absence, you can change your contribution amount or begin an account.
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This document was last revised on February 21, 2013