2023 Flex Credits for Western Special Constable Service (WSCS)

Making the best use of your Health Care Spending Account and your Professional Expense Reimbursement Account

In addition to many other benefits, Western provides its Western Special Constable Service - OPSEU members with two accounts that can be used to cover a wide variety of expenses. It also offers "Flex Credits" - funds to be allocated into either of the two accounts. Here are the two accounts, and an explanation of Flex Credits:

  • The Health Care Spending Account (HCSA) can be used to pay for many medical and dental expenses that are not covered or only partially covered by your Extended Health and Dental plans. Your base Health Care Spending Account is $200.
  • The Professional Expense Reimbursement Account (PER) can be used to pay for professional expenses including conference registrations, travel and accommodation, membership fees for professional associations, journal subscriptions, to purchase software, internet access and for other expenses. See end of this document for a list of eligible expenses and restrictions. Your PER base amount is $300.

In addition to the base amounts outlined above, you have been provided with $600 in Flex Credits that you may allocate (in $100 increments) between your HCSA and your PER.

The deadline to allocate your $600 Flex Credit allocation for the 2023 calendar year was December 2, 2022. If you did not actively choose where your Flex Credits will go, the default allocation is $600 credited to the PER. The allocation is irrevocable after the deadline has passed.

What is the right Flex Credit allocation decision for you?

In November of each year, you will be asked to make a decision about your Flex Credit allocations for the following year. Here are some things to consider:

Do you expect to have higher professional costs in the next calendar year?
You may anticipate the need for new software, or plan to attend a major conference and will incur registration, travel and accommodation expenses. If so, you may wish to allocate more or all of your Flex Credits to your Professional Expense Reimbursement Account.

Do you foresee higher medical/dental expenses?
Sometimes you are able to anticipate upcoming medical or dental expenses for the next calendar year. If your child requires orthodontic work, or you have an injury that requires ongoing physiotherapy or massage therapy, you may choose to allocate more of your Flex Credits to your Health Care Spending Account. Your HCSA can be used to claim for expenses above the dollar maximum for benefits such as vision care, drug dispensing fees, and to pay for the 15% co-insurance costs you may pay on some dental and medical expenses.

Making your Choice

If you're ready to allocate your Flex Credits, you can do so now. (Note: Allocations are to be made in increments of $100.)

  • Log on to "My Human Resources
  • Select the “Allocate Flex Credits” tile 
  • Select “Flex Credit Allocation” from the menu on the left
  • Your credits will display on the right
  • Select the "Make changes to your elections" button from the bottom

Carry Forward Provisions of PER

Individuals may have a one-year carry forward of any unspent amount - i.e. unspent PER from 2022 may be carried forward for use in 2023.

Carry Forward Provisions of HCSA

Unused credits in your HCSA will be carried forward and added to credits for the following calendar year. At the end of the second calendar year, tax laws require that any credits remaining from the previous year be forfeited.

Checking your Balances

To see your current balance in your PER, go to the Western Financials home page, login and click on the tile labelled “Professional Expense (PER)”.

To see the current balance in yor Health Care Spending Account, visit the Manulife Financial website and sign in. Once logged in, click on "My Benefits", then the link that says HCSA Balance. You will see amount deposited in current year, claims paid, and your current balance.

Submitting a HCSA Claim

The best way to make many claims is to log onto the Manulife secure website. Manulife is the administrator of the HCSA. You will have to register online, if you haven't yet done so. You can also make a claim using the Group Benefits Extended Health Care Claim Form, also available on the Manulife self-service website, and in hard copy from Human Resource Services in Room 4159, Support Services Building.

Here are a few tips:

  • All claims should be submitted during the same plan year in which you paid the expense. However, your HCSA has a 90-day grace period, which allows up to 90 days after December 31 for Manulife to receive expenses incurred during the previous year.
  • Before making claims under your HCSA, you are required to make claims under your regular benefits program - the Extended Health and Dental plans. You will see a box you can check that says "Check here to use your Health Care Spending Account (HCSA) to reimburse any unpaid portion of this claim."
  • You should also co-ordinate any available coverage from a spouse's health or dental plan before using your HCSA credits to take advantage of the maximum coverage available to you.

Submitting a PER Claim

The quickest way to obtain reimbursement for your PER claim is to submit an online claim form. The following links provide step-by-step instructions on how to submit a PER claim online:

Once you have completed the submission along with uploading all necessary backup documentation and the expenses have been approved by your designated approvers, you will receive an email notification to your @uwo address indicating when the claim has been processed and funds released to your account.

You can also continue to submit a paper claim for your PER by following the instructions below.

  1. To submit a Professional Expense Reimbursement claim, first review the information regarding eligible expenses on the claim form. To download the form, go to the Financial Services Forms page and you will find a heading called Professional Expense Reimbursement. You will see a claims form for each eligible employee group.
  2. Sign and submit the form and receipts to your Chair/Director/Dean/Vice-President for approval. Once the claim form is signed by your Chair/Director/Dean/Vice-President, ensure the form, along with original receipts, is forwarded to Financial Services, Room 6100, Support Services Building. Alternatively, you can submit the relevant documents via email to reimburse@uwo.ca. Claims will be processed as soon as possible and directly deposited to your bank account. You will receive an e-mail notification (to your @uwo email address) when this transaction has occurred.

Eligible Expenses and Conditions

The HCSA, the PER and the Flex Credits are all non-taxable benefits to you, however there are some limitations imposed by the Income Tax Act and the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) including carry-over and other provisions.

Flex Credits: The allocation of flex credits must be made in advance of the calendar year in which the expenses are expected to be incurred.

HCSA Eligible Expenses: The Canada Revenue Agency governs the expenses that can be claimed using your HCSA, as they are the same expenses that can be claimed for the medical expense tax credit on your income tax return. A list of eligible expenses can be found on the CRA website. Note that if you receive a HCSA reimbursement for an expense, you cannot also claim the CRA medical expense tax credit for the same expense.

PER Eligible Expenses: The following expenses incurred by staff members are eligible for reimbursement:

  • membership fees for professional associations;
  • subscriptions (excluding newspapers), journals, books and Internet access;
  • computer software and upgrades and equipment related to the staff member's work (see below);
  • registrations to conferences, course tuition; and
  • travel, including transportation, food and accommodation (subject to the University's travel policies)

Equipment - To be eligible, equipment must be used primarily (more than 90%) for work purposes. There must be sufficient funds in the staff member's PER account to cover the full cost of the equipment. All equipment purchased is the property of Western University. Equipment is not eligible for reimbursement within 12 months of retirement or the end of a staff member’s contract.

Want more information about any of these accounts? You may find what you are looking for in the FAQ.

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