Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account for Military Families & Spouses
The cost of day care for children or supervision for an aging parent can be a significant expense for many families. A DCFSA can help pay for out-of-pocket eligible expenses tax-free. Qualifying expenses include those incurred to help you and your spouse go to work, study and look for a job.
A Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account (DCFSA) is a pre-tax account used to pay for eligible dependent care services such as child or adult day care.
Enrollment in a DCFSA is open to DoD civilians, regular (active) component service members, and Active Guard Reserve members on Title 10 orders who have dependents with eligible expenses.
Here are some tips from financial experts to help you build a spending plan:
- Create or update your spending plan. Focus on essential living expenses and try to minimize discretionary spending. Determine where you can cut and divert that money to savings. Review your current spending for areas to consider, where possible, cutting back.
- Prioritize your bills and contact your lenders if you need help making payments. Many lenders will allow you to defer payments such as mortgages, rent, car loans and credit card payments. Others are temporarily suspending late fees or collection efforts of past due payments.
- Check with your service relief society for additional assistance. Military relief societies may offer immediate, no interest loans or grants for financial needs.
Army Emergency Relief: https://www.armyemergencyrelief.org/
Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society: https://www.nmcrs.org
Air Force Aid Society: https://www.afas.org
Coast Guard Mutual Assistance: https://www.cgmahq.org
Quickly Determine Eligibility
You must have an eligible dependent and use eligible dependent care services to allow yourself and your spouse (if applicable) to work, look for work or attend school full-time.
Your dependent must be claimed on your tax return for the year you are enrolling in a DCFSA.
If your spouse is a full-time student or incapable of self-care, for purposes of DCFSA eligibility, your spouse is considered to have $250 per month in earned income for your first dependent, and $500 per month in earned income if you have two or more dependents.
Common Eligible Expenses
Preschool & After-School Care
Children under age 13 who are claimed as dependents for tax purposes
Spouse or dependent of any age who is physically or mentally incapable of self-care
School tuition expenses (kindergarten and above)
Services provided by one of your dependents
Night-time babysitting (unless you work nights when the expenses are incurred)
Nursing homes, medical care or other residential care centers
How Much Can I Contribute?
$100-$5,000 Pre-tax Earnings
- You may contribute a minimum of $100 and a maximum of $5,000 or up to the amount of your total earnings if you earn less than $5,000 per calendar year into a DCFSA.
- However, your marital and tax filing status may impact the amount you are able to contribute.
- You may only enroll in a DCFSA during the Federal Benefits Open Season, typically held mid-November through mid-December each year, or when you have experienced a Qualifying Life Event (QLE) such as the birth or adoption of a child, a divorce, or relocation.
- The DCFSA operates on a calendar year basis, starting January 1 and ending December 31.
- There is a grace period through March 15 of the following year to incur expenses. Claims can be submitted through April 30 of the following year.
- Any funds remaining in a DCFSA after April 30 of the following year are forfeited.
“My spouse is active component and we have three dependents - two children under the age of 13 and my father who is a disabled veteran. I was the sole care provider for our family but am now returning to work part-time and will be hiring an au pair. Am I eligible to enroll in a DCFSA benefit or must my spouse?”
Good news! You are eligible. Your active component spouse can enroll or you can enroll through your employer. However, the maximum contribution per tax year is $5,000 for a family whose tax status is married filing jointly.
October is known for pumpkin spice lattes, changing leaves and sweater weather. It’s also Financial Planning Month — a perfect opportunity to take a holistic look at your money matters. So, before you start carving pumpkins this month, carve out time in your schedule to review your finances. Here’s a checklist to help you get…Read More
You wouldn’t prepare your holiday meals without your favorite recipes, so start this season with a savings plan. Think of it as your very own recipe for financial success. It may seem early to be talking about the holidays, but as a mother and a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional, the best tip I can offer…Read More
If you’re like me, I had thoughts of chilling my favorite beverage in preparation for the first day of school when my girls were younger. 😉 I was also thinking about all the money I’d have to spend getting my kiddos ready. Back-to-school shopping is so much more than buying pencils, notebooks and rulers. It’s…Read More
Few things are more annoying than that “potential spam” call that pops up on your phone or when you answer a call to hear a recorded voice trying to get information from you. We’ve learned to adapt by ignoring the calls or hanging up. But when job hunting, you’re often eager to answer all calls…Read More
By: Robyn Mroszczyk I love PCS season! After 10 moves in the last 19 years, I still thrive on turning my type-A, task-driven mind into a weapon of mass organization. Last spring, my dear husband came with orders for a cross-country move. Due to the logistics of having to coordinate multiple travel plans over five…Read More
For me, the goal of a vacation is to fully unplug and recharge. So when my husband and I experienced travel issues during our recent vacation, it was stressful and led to unexpected expenses, which led to even more stress! The irony is that we spent a year planning and saving up for this big…Read More
As a military spouse, you may not wear a uniform, but you strengthen our nation and our military every single day. You do so by serving as a rock for your family, your service member, our military and our country. You build community and hold us together. In my time as a military spouse, I…Read More
What better way is there to celebrate the Month of the Military Child than by giving your kids the tools they need to secure their financial future? This month, I’m passing on some great resources and tips that I use with my own kids that can aid you in teaching your children about money, even…Read More