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Dependent Care FSA

Employee Benefits

Eligible Dependents

Your WageWorks® Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account (DCFSA) can be used to pay for eligible dependent care expenses for your eligible dependents. It’s important to understand the definition of “eligible dependent” in the context of these accounts to make sure your claims are processed and you are reimbursed for your expenses quickly.

You can use your WageWorks account to pay for the eligible dependent expenses of a qualifying child or relative, as defined in Internal Revenue Code Section 152. Generally speaking, a qualifying child or relative is:

  • Your child under the age of 13*
  • Your spouse, adult relative or adult child who is physically or mentally incapable of self-care

* Optional provision: The Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA) 2021, temporarily allows for an eligible employee to be reimbursed expenses for dependents through age 13 (i.e., dependents who have not yet turned 14) for the 2020 plan year. To qualify for this relief, you must have been enrolled on or before January 31, 2020 and you must have unused amounts from the 2020 plan year. In addition, you must have one or more dependents who attained the age of 13 during the 2020 plan year. You may also take advantage of this relief for the next plan year if unused grace period amounts from the 2020 plan year or other funds carried over into the 2021 plan year. Please refer to your plan documents or employer communications to determine if this option is available under your plan.

Definition of “Qualifying Child or Relative”

The term “qualifying child or relative” can be tricky. According to the IRS, a qualifying child or relative can be any of these people:

  • Your child, grandchild, stepchild, foster child, or adopted child
  • Your spouse*
  • Your brother, half-brother or stepbrother; sister, half-sister, or stepsister; nephew or niece
  • Your child or grandchild of any of the relatives listed above
  • Your father, grandfather, stepfather, mother, grandmother, or stepmother
  • Your uncle or aunt
  • Your son-, daughter-, father-, mother-, brother- or sister-in-law. Or, any other person who will reside with you for the entire year (while not in violation of local law).

Additionally, if you provide more than 50% of this person's support for the calendar year, and they are not a qualifying child or relative of any other person, s/he is considered your eligible dependent.

Qualifying dependents must:

  • Reside with you for more than half the year**
  • Regularly spend at least eight hours a day in your home
  • Not file a joint tax return with his/her spouse for the calendar year (unless the qualifying relative is your spouse)
  • Not be claimed by any other person as a qualifying child for the calendar year***
  • Be a citizen, national or resident of the US; or a resident of Canada or Mexico (unless the person is an adopted child)
  • Be considered a qualifying child or relative on a daily basis

* At this time, a domestic partner is not considered a spouse under federal law, so a domestic partner's medical expenses cannot be reimbursed under your WageWorks account unless the domestic partner is a “qualifying relative” of the participant. A qualifying spouse must be legally married.

** Disregard temporary absences due to illness, education, business, vacation, or military service. You must maintain a home for the person during the temporary absence and the person must be expected to return after the absence.

*** If you are not the child’s parent, your adjusted gross income is higher than the adjusted gross income of either of the child’s parents.

Special Rules for Divorced or Separated Parents

If you and your spouse or ex-spouse are both eligible to contribute to a Dependent Care FSA through your respective employers, you and your spouse may not each claim $5,000. You may not “double-dip,” which means that expenses reimbursed under your Dependent Care FSA may not be reimbursed under your spouse's Dependent Care FSA and vice versa.

Check with your legal or tax advisor to see if special rules apply to you that would enable your child to be claimed by the non-custodial parent or by both parents.

If two or more people want to claim the same child as their qualifying child, the person who has the right to is:

  • The child's parent, if one person is the child's parent and the other is not
  • The parent with whom the child lives with longest in the year, if both people are the child's parents
  • The parent with the higher adjusted gross income, if both people are the child's parents and the child lives equally with both during the year
  • The person with the higher adjusted gross income, if both people are not the child's parents

Questions about eligible dependents under your Dependent Care FSA? Browse the FAQs in the Employee Support Center.

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