I was abruptly laid off, and I wasn't aware of the FSA overages until after my departure. I realize I'll sound like a weasel, but can they collect?

They paid out more than the annual limit and they have sent an email asking for the funds back.

  • 8
    By “overages,” do you mean that you had more in medical expenses than you paid in so far for the year, or do you mean that they somehow paid out more than your total annual limit?
    – Ben Miller
    Mar 1, 2018 at 17:14
  • 1
    Have they asked you to pay anything back?
    – Ben Miller
    Mar 1, 2018 at 17:15
  • 2
    Hello Ben, they paid out more than the annual limit and yes they have sent an email asking for the funds back.
    – user68552
    Mar 1, 2018 at 21:08
  • 1
    I’m not sure it matters, but did your employer pay this money directly to you (reimbursing you for medical expenses), or did they pay it directly to health care providers?
    – Ben Miller
    Mar 1, 2018 at 21:30
  • 2
    Also, did this “overage” happen in 2018, or 2017?
    – Ben Miller
    Mar 1, 2018 at 21:34

2 Answers 2


It depends on what you mean by “overages.”

FSA plans have a feature called “uniform coverage.” When you sign up for the plan with your employer, you are signing up for coverage up to a certain dollar amount and you agree to pay that same dollar amount out of your paychecks over the course of the year. “Uniform coverage” means that you are covered for the entire amount as of the first day of the year, even before you make any payments out of your paychecks. If you leave the company for any reason, the FSA plan ends immediately. It doesn’t matter whether you have paid more or less than you have used, the plan is over at that point and no money is owed in either direction.

So, if by “overage,” you mean that for 2018 you have already been reimbursed for more medical expenses than you have paid in your paychecks and now that you are laid off you won’t be making anymore payments, then the answer is no, you do not owe this money. If this is your situation, I’m surprised that your employer would ask you for reimbursement; they really should know better.

If, however, “overage” means something else, then all bets are off. Perhaps you mean that the employer made a mistake and made a payment that they were not supposed to, or you made a mistake and submitted a claim you should not have, or you hit your annual maximum but they mistakenly continued to pay. In all of these cases, you could see how it would be understood that you should pay the employer back.

According to your comment, the employer has mistakenly paid out more than the total FSA plan amount for the year. In general, when you receive funds that you were not supposed to receive, you have an obligation to pay it back.


Possibility 1: Reimbursement exceeds contributions

  • You elect to contribute $1,200 to the FSA ($100 a month).
  • In February, you submit $2,000 worth of expenses. You are reimbursed $1,200.
  • In March, you are laid off.

In this case, you've paid $300, but received $1,200. Your employer cannot compel you to pay the difference. Quoting Div 125, a provider:

The risk to the employer comes when a plan participant terminates employment before repaying into the plan all reimbursement. So if the above employee terminates employment 6 months prior to the end of the plan year, this employee has been paid out a total of $1200 already, but has only contributed $600 into the plan so far. In this situation, there is no remedy for the employer to recover the loss, and that is the inherent employer risk in the medical FSA plans. The employer cannot ask for this money back, adjust W-2 wages after the fact, nor can it payroll deduct any overage from the final paycheck.

Possibility 2: Reimbursement exceeds total election

  • You elect to contribute $1,200 to the FSA ($100 a month).
  • In February, you submit $2,000 worth of expenses. You are reimbursed $2,000.
  • In March, you are laid off.

In this case, there has been some form of accounting error. You are still entitled to keep the $1,200, as above, but the excess $800 should never have been paid to you in the first place, since it is above the total amount you elected at the beginning of the year, and should be returned.

  • 5
    It may have been a reasonable assumption, but based on the OP’s recent comments it appears that this answer does not address the OP’s situation.
    – Ben Miller
    Mar 1, 2018 at 21:37
  • 1
    As Ben mentioned, you are answering a different situation. Do you want to edit your answer? Mar 2, 2018 at 13:17
  • I have done so.
    – Magua
    Mar 2, 2018 at 16:12
  • This answer provides more visibility and knowledge about the OP question. Both are correct but this one is better worded.
    – GoldBishop
    Mar 2, 2018 at 20:31

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