Problems with TASC Denying Dependent Care Expense Reimbursement With No Reason Provided?

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My muscles tense up with just the thought of dealing with health insurance claims and flexible spending account reimbursement. I feel they are both incentivized to deny your claims and thus put up layers and layers of bureaucracy in the hopes that you’ll just give up. Sometimes I feel like I’m a customer of Insuricare.

I have actually skipped participating in FSAs for entire years due to bad administrators. At some point, the potential tax savings isn’t worth the added stress and time spent to submit $20 receipts for approval. However, I thought it might be different for the Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account (DCFSA). I can contribute $5,000 and a single preschool tuition alone was easily over that. Just one receipt and done! Right?

No. This is light paraphrasing of my recent interaction with TASC (Total Administrative Services Corporation), which is the benefits administration provider for our DCFSA. I wish I had a recording of the call; I really felt that I was in the movie Office Space. Even worse, it wasn’t this person’s fault. The highly-paid people who created this situation made sure they had a layer of low-paid workers shielding them from the actual customers (again, see Insuricare). You can skip to the end if you want the final resolution.

Me: Hi! I am checking in again on why my dependent care expense reimbursement request was denied (again).

TASC: I see that it was denied again. I can’t tell you why it was denied. I can tell you the things we usually look for: name of provider, name of service recipient, date, amount, and description of service.

Me: The receipt that I sent in has all of those things.

TASC: I see. I can tell you the things we usually look for: name of provider, name of service recipient, date, amount, and description of service.

Me: So which of those things was missing in my reimbursement request?

TASC: I can’t tell you that.

Me: Can I talk to the people who denied me?

TASC: No, you can’t talk to them. They are in a separate department. They don’t talk to customers. We talk to the customers.

Me: So I can’t talk to the people who denied my request. They are just allowed to deny my request without providing even the tiniest clue to say WHY they denied my request?

TASC: That is correct.

Me: So can you tell me EXACTLY what I need to do to get my reimbursement approved? I am contributing $5,000 of my paycheck to this Dependent Care FSA this year. It’s a lot of money.

TASC: You need to send in a new reimbursement request. I can tell you the things we usually look for: name of provider, name of service recipient, date, amount, and description of service.

Me: How should it be different than my previous reimbursement request?

TASC: I can’t tell you that.

Me: I must point out that I submitted the exact same documentation in 2020 and it was approved.

TASC: I can’t help you with that. I can tell you the things we usually look for: name of provider, name of service recipient, date, amount, and description of service.

Me: Umm… we don’t seem to be making any progress here. Can I talk to a supervisor?

After an additional 15-minute hold time (where I reminded myself of the $1,000 in tax savings at the end of the rainbow) and another discussion with the supervisor, they finally told me about the existence of an alternative method: the TASC Dependent Care Contract. My preschool provider had to fill it out (I felt bad making more work for them), I signed it, scanned it, uploaded it, and it was finally approved. (There may be different versions of the form out there. I wouldn’t put it past them.)

Note that I had talked to three different customer service reps about my denied reimbursement request, and NONE of them mentioned this magical form. Only after escalating to a supervisor was this option finally revealed to me. I hope that some of these keywords will make it into Google and other search engines and help the next parent pulling out their hair.

If you want to cover all your bases, you should also ask your care provider to fill out IRS Form W-10, “Dependent Care Provider’s Identification and Certification” at the same time as the TASC form.

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Comments

  1. What a huge PITA… insurance companies are the absolute worst.

  2. I recently spent about 15 hours over a span of 6 months trying to get some dental care covered. It was approved and no one disputed that.

    It was that the dentist office swore they sent in the claim twice and the health insurance company claimed that they never got it. The dentist office has been short staffed, so they just billed me instead. Suddenly I was caught as the middleman trying to broker a conversation between to entities that don’t answer the phone and don’t do anything electronically due to HIPAA (or maybe something else) regulations.

    Finally, I was able to submit the claim myself and it seems like the insurance accepted it and paid it. I got a bill from the dentist office a couple of days after and I just hope that was in the mail before the resolution. It’s old-fashioned breakage like paper rebate forms.

  3. On the FSA side there is also an orthodontia contract form which makes it easier to get reimbursed. The only way I found out about that was through my employer’s HR department.

  4. hahahah.. this totally played out for me before the exact same way.. same expense approved before and all of a sudden it was rejected. i found out about the magical form only two years ago from the customer rep too. it’s the same magical form for the healthcare fsa too!

  5. Michael Anderson says

    That’s a lesson in frustration!

    You managed to get your issue resolved, but if you hadn’t, I’d recommend sending a note to the state regulator. Naturally, this depends on the state and how motivated their particular office is, but I’ve had a few instances where the state office has helped get the issue resolved in my favor (a de-regulated energy supplier, and a couple of marketing firms). It’s a very slow process, but it has worked. Your results may vary.

  6. Might be worth reporting this to your state’s attorney general. This looks like business malpractice, if not fraud.

  7. Almost identical experience in trying to get an au pair expense reimbursed. Different company (wageworks) but they use the same playbook. Each time I called I was told it was denied for a different reason and could never speak to anyone with authority. I went through an entire appeal process and never even got a response. Ultimately got it approved just by resubmitting with the exact same information (next time i will just do that and not even bother calling or appealing).

    • Yes, that’s how I got it approved in 2020 (just waited and submitted again later).

      Does anyone know the answer to the question: When the funds are “use it or lose it”, what happens to the money when you “lose it”? My bet is that the money goes back to the employer, which in turn incentivizes the employer to pick the strictest, most evil administrator. Even worse would be if the money goes straight to the administrator. I somehow doubt the money goes to charity.

      • Bob Johnson says

        I think unused money goes back to the employer. Based on my understanding, you can spend all of the money you plan to contribute for the year on 1/1, quit on 1/2 and you don’t need to pay the money back.

  8. I’m still in the middle of a battle with health insurance about something else… might have to try the attorney general/state regular route soon.

    “Thank you for your patience while we review our decision” = We will ignore you for months and hope you go away!

  9. Our latest denial was: We had tele-video doctor visit, but had connectivity issues, so it was just a phone consultation. But health insurance says they don’t cover phone visits, only zoom visits. What?!

    • Sounds like they’re discriminating against blind customers…

    • Michael Anderson says

      This should depend on how the provider described your interaction with them in their use of medical codes related to their billing. If the provider described the interaction using a code that indicated telehealth, then your insurer shouldn’t care about whether video was available or not, nor would they have the right to deny any contractual reimbursement for a telehealth visit. If the provider coded (and thus billed it) as a phone consultation, then you’ll need to speak to your provider to have them re-submit with the proper code. If your provider feels a phone consultation is the proper description, then you’re out of luck (though you should have only been billed for a phone consultation). If your billing statement happens to show the procedure code(s), you can search for the code online. Look for CPT codes (or possibly HCPCS codes).

      Of course, as you stated in your post, if your dealing on the phone with some putz who is required to read from a limited script to try and get you to stop bothering them for reimbursement, then this information doesn’t help much.

  10. Does anyone know if expenses towards math enrichment such as RSM qualify for FSA Dependent Care?

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