Dependent Care FSA
In accordance with IRS regulations, the maximum you can contribute to a Dependent Care FSA is $5,000 per year for a married couple filing taxes jointly or a single head of household; or $2,500 each for a married couple filing separate tax returns. Your contributions will be deducted from your paycheck on a pretax basis throughout the year and credited to your account on a monthly basis. If you have dual Northwestern and Northwestern Medicine appointments making you eligible for both dependent care FSA plans, it is important to keep the $5,000 total maximum between all Dependent Care FSA plans in mind when enrolling.
Reimburses dependent care expenses that allow you and your spouse to work. This is NOT for dependent health care expenses.
Dependent care University match
Employees with a family adjusted gross income up to $130,000 can apply for Northwestern matching funds by completing the online Dependent Care Employer Match Application. For assistance completing this form, review this User Guide. To begin the match on the first of the month, an application must be received by the Benefits Division by no later than the 15th of the preceding month.
Note: non-employee postdoctoral trainees are eligible for university funds for child care without contributing to the Dependent Care FSA.
|Household Earnings||Northwestern Election Match (%)||Maximum Contribution|
|Up to $60,000||80%||$4,000 per year|
|$60,001-$75,000||60%||$3,000 per year|
|$75,001-$100,000||40%||$2,000 per year|
|$100,001-$130,000||20%||$1,000 per year|
Notes: Northwestern maximum match is based off an annual election of $5,000. University matching contributions are added to a participant’s taxable wages.
Enrollment After December 15
The match amount you receive will be prorated during any calendar year for which you do not participate in a Dependent Care FSA for the entire year, or you applied for the match after December 15.
For example, you submit the dependent care match application on 8/14, which means the match begins on 9/1. Your AGI is $70,000 and you contribute $5,000 to your account for the remainder of the year, the University match will equal 60% of your contributions, which will be prorated. In this case, the amount deducted on a pre-tax basis from your paycheck each month is $1,250 ($5,000 ÷ 4) and the amount or prorated Employer Dependent Care FSA added each month in taxable income is $250 (($3,000 ÷ 12) x 4), which totals $1,000 for the year.
- A child under age 13 in your custody whom you claim as a dependent on your tax return.
- A spouse who is incapable of self-care, or
- A dependent who lives with you, such as a child over age 13, parent, sibling or in-law-who is incapable of self-care, and whom you claim as a dependent on your tax return.
If care for a disabled spouse or dependent is provided outside the home, the dependent must live with you at least eight hours a day. Please visit the PayFlex website for a list of eligible dependents.
Newly eligible employees may enroll online through myHR within 31 days of hire.
- An individual may change his FSA contributions within 31 days of a qualifying change in family status. Changes in child care arrangements or expenses are not considered qualifying events.
- If on a leave of absence, the employee is not eligible for the Dependent Care FSA until he/she has returned to work. At that time, you must enroll in the Dependent Care FSA online via myHR.
- During Open Enrollment, an individual must re-enroll through myHR to continue participation in the FSA the following year.
File a claim
- Submit claims directly to Payflex using Express Claims or a paper claim form. You will not be reimbursed for expenses until after the care is provided.
- Include the social security number or federal tax identification number of the child care provider.
- Individuals participating in the Dependent Care Account may be reimbursed only up to the amount in his or her account.
- Payment may be received by check or direct deposit.
- All eligible funds for plan year 2023 must be claimed by March 31, 2024. Under Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regulations, any monies not claimed from the FSA as of March 31, 2024 are forfeited.