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Military Dependent Care Flexible Spending Accounts

Update: Open Season for Military Dependent Care Flexible Spending Accounts runs from November 13, 2023 and ends at 11:59 pm Eastern Time, Monday, December 11, 2023 for theFederal Flexible Spending Account Program (FSAFEDS). You cannot sign up for this option outside of open season without a qualifying life event (see below.)

Dependent Care Flexible Spending Accounts, also known as DCFSA, can help lower the burden of childcare costs. DCFSAs do this by allowing pre-tax contributions to an account used to pay for preschool, daycare, adult daycare, and after-school programs.

Military families now have the option to apply for a DoD Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account. DoD official sites announced the department’s “intent to offer service members the ability to contribute annually up to $5,000 in pretax income to pay for dependent care expenses.”

According to the DoD, some 400,000 service members qualify for flexible spending accounts. DoD civilians already have access to the program.

How DCFSA Works

From November 2023 on, eligible military members are offered the option to sign up for a DCFSA and, as mentioned above, can contribute a maximum of $5,000 per year.

These payments are automatically withdrawn from military pay, pre-tax. DCFSAs can be used to pay for care for children younger than 13, and there are options to pay for adults who are incapable of self-care.

In a plan’s current year, it is typically scheduled to end on December 31. At that time, those who enrolled in the Dependent Care Flexible Spending Accounts program have until March 15 in the new year to “incur eligible expenses.” The claims for those expenses must be submitted by April 30 each year.

Related: Thrift Savings Plan Overview

Who Qualifies For Dependent Care Flexible Spending Accounts

Enrollment is open to:

  • All active component service members
  • Active Guard/Reserve members on Title 10 orders

According to DoD literature, qualifying expenses are for:

  • So-called “tax dependents” or children under the age of 13;
  • Spouses or “other tax dependents” (regardless of age) who are incapable of self-care.
  • DoD civilian employees (who were already eligible before the new program)

At press time, DoD DCFSA accounts are offered to active-duty troops and those in the National Guard or Reserve serving on Title 10 orders, which means they have been ordered to active duty by the president of the United States.

The accounts are not available to Guard or Reserve troops under Title 32 orders or members of the Coast Guard at press time, but future expansion of the program is possible.

How to Register for DCFSA

According to the DoD, military members can enroll in DCFSA and set up an account at FSAFEDS.com during the Federal Benefits Open Season in mid-November through mid-December. You can learn more about DCFSA at the FSAFeds official site.

Related: Financial Planning for Military Members and Veterans

About the author

Editor-in-Chief | + posts

Editor-in-Chief Joe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter/editor for Air Force Television News and the Pentagon Channel. His freelance work includes contract work for Motorola, VALoans.com, and Credit Karma. He is co-founder of Dim Art House in Springfield, Illinois, and spends his non-writing time as an abstract painter, independent publisher, and occasional filmmaker.