LBS Introduces Lifestyle Spending Accounts
It doesn’t matter where you look these days, the overwhelming message from employer groups is that their top priority is to attract, retain, and engage top talent to ensure success within their organizations. Now more than ever, employers are focused on the various aspects of employee health, including mental, physical, and financial wellness. When it comes to benefits that support the employee retention strategy, one option gaining momentum is the Lifestyle Spending Account (LSA).
An LSA is unique because allows employers to customize their benefit package and use funds for a wide range of expenses including fitness memberships, wellness programs, and nutritional counseling. Employers can also allow expenses such as pet insurance premiums, museum admissions and home cleaning services depending on what they think their employees need. LSA’s are an employer-funded account that provides relief for employees, post-tax, on non-traditional benefits typically excluded by other IRS regulated products like an FSA, HRA or HSA.
When an employee incurs an eligible expense, they will simply submit a claim to LBS and they’ll be reimbursed from their LSA account. Claims can be submitted via mail, online or through our mobile app. Once the claim is approved, the employee will receive reimbursement through direct deposit or a check in the mail.
By empowering employees to invest in their own wellness, employers can improve employee satisfaction, productivity, and overall health for their workforce. When you’re interested in learning more about an LSA, please reach out to your Lifetime Benefit Solutions Sales Representative.
Director of Sales Operations & Business Diversification, Lifetime Benefit Solutions
Budget Friendly Financial Wellness Options for Today’s Competitive World
As business leaders, we face unprecedented challenges in 2022 in both retaining and recruiting talent. Unemployment is at historical low rates. Workers are quitting their jobs at all time high rates. Compounding factors include the baby boomer generation leaving the workforce to retire and a post-pandemic world where employees are no longer tied to working for a company locally. Organizations are losing employees at an alarming pace and replacing them has proven to be difficult. In order to remain competitive and to not put undue stress on operations, organizations need to consider all tools available to them in order to try and minimize voluntary turnover.
One possible budget friendly financial wellness option that is available to employer groups is a student loan repayment program. The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 allows employers to pay up to $5,250 in employee student loan principal and interest on a non-taxable basis through the end of 2025. While $5,250 per employee may break a company’s budget, what we see in the market is that most organizations offer an amount much less than the full $5,250. Most monthly company sponsored student loan reimbursement rates range from $50 to $200 per month. This makes the program much more budget friendly. A $100 a month student loan repayment benefit equates to $1,200 per year per employee who uses the program. While this is not inexpensive, organizations have to consider the retention benefit gained by offering this benefit. The $100 benefit will allow an employee to have an extra $100 in their pocket every month. That may be a dinner out for the family, extra groceries on the table or just an extra $100 to pay towards their student loan so that they can become loan free even sooner. Over 40 million Americans hold student loans and they put an enormous amount of stress on an employee’s financial situation. Offering this benefit can go a long way in encouraging retention and building goodwill among your employees.
Organizations don’t have to stop with student loan repayment. Other budget friendly ideas include contributing to your employees’ HSA, Health FSA or Dependent Care FSA. These contributions are tax free to the employee and can make a big difference in their overall financial wellbeing. A $50 monthly contribution to an employee’s HSA may be enough to cover their monthly prescription costs. A $200 contribution to a Dependent Care FSA can go a long way to offset an employee’s monthly childcare costs. Each additional benefit you offer helps contribute to your employees’ financial wellness and peace of mind.
Offering financial wellness benefits becomes a win-win proposition for both the employee and the employer. For the employer, they will not just help lower turnover rates, but can also result in more productivity. For employees, their financial wellness is improved, and it is accomplished on a tax-free basis. Employer groups need to consider adding these types of benefits and doing it soon. The competition for workers is only going to get more heated in the years to come. It is time to act!
NOTE: The information provided in this blog is for informational purposes only. Federal and state laws may vary with respect to the legal and/or tax requirements for student loan reimbursement. Please consult with your own legal counsel and/or tax advisor for the legal and/or tax requirements that may apply to you or to your employees.
Strategic Partnerships Manager, Lifetime Benefit Solutions
We may be in 2022, but if you made it through 2021, give yourself a pat on the back
Whether you work as a broker, a member of a human resources benefits team or an employee at a benefits administration firm, we all know that the benefits field is both challenging and ever changing. We work hard every day to satisfy our constituents who range from clients, members and employees. And every year things get more hectic and the pace picks up.
With that said, 2021 turned out to be an exceptionally convoluted and complex year in the benefits world. We saw more change in 2021 than we may have experienced in the last 5 years, maybe the last 10 years. Let me just list off the top of my head some of the changes we experienced in 2021:
- Unlimited FSA carryover or grace period for FSA Plans
- Post termination health FSA eligibility
- Dependent care age eligibility increase to 14
- Option to revoke a Health FSA election
- Dependent care contribution limit increase
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) becomes FSA eligible
- COBRA ARPA subsidies
- Extended COBRA deadline extensions calculated on a member-by-member basis
These all needed to be communicated and operationalized in a timely and effective manner. Some were well received like the unlimited FSA carryover and actually provided a tangible benefit to members. Some were traps, such as the increase in the dependent care limit if you were already failing non-discrimination testing. Some were just downright off the charts – the COBRA subsidy. We were given just weeks’ notice on something that would have required months of preparation in order to get right. We were provided guidance weeks after the start of the subsidy only to hope that we didn’t need to redo any work. And we were tasked with trying to explain to our clients and members who qualified for the subsidy and who didn’t. Benefit administration firms attempted to collect millions in employer COBRA subsidies from clients who had much more important things to do than worry about paying COBRA subsidies, yet alone how to recoup them.
But the point here is to take time to look at the list above and reflect on just how much we had to tackle in 2021. All on top of what we already deal with through our normal course of business. As humans, we are constantly looking forward to what comes next and don’t often take the time to look back and reflect on what we accomplished. So in the process of thinking about 2022, please don’t forget to take a minute to pat yourself on the back. Because you made it through 2021, and for us in the benefits field, that was no easy feat.
Strategic Partnerships Manager, Lifetime Benefit Solutions
|Scott Ehrlinger has more than 20 years’ experience with benefit administrative services and has been with LBS since 2001. He also studied accounting at SUNY Geneseo and completed his MBA at Rochester Institute of Technology.|
|Scott has held roles within the organization that include Vice President of Finance, Vice President of Ancillary Operations and Retirement Plan Consultant. In his current role with LBS, Scott services as the liaison between LBS and its current clients as well as future prospects. His extensive knowledge of the organization’s operational processes ensures a smooth implementation and provides a consultative approach to clients as well as internal client service.|