Can I Use My HSA to Buy an Ergonomic Office Chair?

Working long hours at a desk job can take a toll on your body, leading to back, neck, and wrist pain. An ergonomic office chair designed to provide lumbar support, promote good posture, and reduce strain is often recommended by doctors to alleviate these common workplace ailments.

But can you use pre-tax savings from your health savings account (HSA) or flexible spending arrangement (FSA) to purchase one of these specialized chairs? The answer is yes, you can use HSA or FSA funds to buy certain ergonomic chairs as long as you get a letter of medical necessity from your doctor.

Below we will cover the step-by-step process for using your HSA or FSA to purchase an ergonomic office chair, including:

  • HSA/FSA eligibility requirements for ergonomic chairs
  • Getting a letter of medical necessity
  • Features to look for in an HSA/FSA-compliant ergonomic chair
  • The reimbursement process through your HSA/FSA

Follow these guidelines and you can offset the cost of an ergonomic chair with your pre-tax health savings.

HSA and FSA Eligibility for Ergonomic Chairs

The first step is understanding what criteria an ergonomic chair must meet for you to pay for it tax-free with an HSA or FSA.

According to IRS Publication 502 regarding HSA-qualified medical expenses, specialized chairs are eligible with a letter of medical necessity from your doctor when the following requirements are met:

Adjustable backrest: Allows you to reposition the backrest to ensure optimal spinal support and comfort.

Armrest adjustability: Crucial for proper arm positioning to prevent carpal tunnel and other repetitive stress issues. At minimum armrests should adjust up/down.

Swiveling base: Allows you to turn smoothly in the chair to avoid neck and back twisting.

Lumbar support: Provides tailored lower back reinforcement and healthy posture. Bonus if it's independently adjustable.

So in a nutshell, the chair must have ergonomic features focused on promoting back health, flexibility, and good posture to qualify for HSA or FSA reimbursement.

Getting a Letter of Medical Necessity

The next step to using your HSA or FSA funds is getting a letter of medical necessity (LMN) from your primary care doctor, chiropractor, physical therapist, or other medical provider.

This letter serves as proof for your health savings administrator that an ergonomic chair is doctor-recommended to treat, mitigate, or prevent a specific medical condition you have like:

  • Chronic back, neck, wrist, or shoulder pain
  • Poor posture/spinal misalignment
  • Sciatica
  • Osteoarthritis aggravated by sitting

The letter should confirm your diagnosis and need for an ergonomic chair, including all the qualifying features outlined earlier.

Provide your doctor with a printout of the HSA/FSA eligibility requirements for chairs from IRS Publication 502 to ensure they articulate how the ergonomic chair meets these guidelines.

HSA/FSA-Compliant Ergonomic Chair Features

When shopping for an ergonomic chair to pay for with your HSA or FSA, look for models that promote healthy movement and spinal alignment.

Key features that make an ergonomic chair HSA/FSA-compliant include:

  • Adjustable backrest: Should have at least 20 degrees of recline and allow you to lock different angles to customize lumbar support.

  • Adjustable armrests: At minimum should adjust up/down, with more expensive chairs offering width, depth, pivot adjustments.

  • 360° rotation: Smooth, rolling casters that prevent neck strain from twisting.

  • Waterfall seat edge: Rounded front edge of seat that removes pressure from the back of your knees.

  • Adjustable seat height: Allows your feet to rest flat on the floor with thighs parallel to ground.

  • Breathable mesh material: More breathable and cooler than leather for all-day sitting.

  • Lumbar support: Integrated or adjustable lumbar pad that fits the inward curve of your lower spine.

Ideally, the chair should have all the core ergonomic features plus options to tailor the setup to your body - such as seat depth/angle adjustment and 3D armrests that you can reposition in any direction.

The HSA/FSA Reimbursement Process

Once you have an LMN from your doctor and have selected an ergonomic chair that meets HSA/FSA requirements, here is the typical reimbursement process:

  1. Purchase the chair outright on your own using a personal credit card or check.

  2. Save your itemized receipt showing the chair name, price paid, and date of purchase.

  3. Submit the receipt, your LMN, and any other documentation required by your health savings administrator to request reimbursement.

  4. Receive repayment deposited into your HSA or FSA account within 1-3 weeks typically.

If purchasing from an ergonomic chair retailer familiar with HSA/FSA claims, ask them for guidance on getting reimbursed smoothly. You may need to provide additional invoices or other paperwork.

Get Sitting Healthy With an HSA/FSA Ergonomic Chair

Using pre-tax health savings to purchase an ergonomic chair is a smart way to invest in your comfort and wellbeing at work. Follow the tips above to have your specialized chair purchase approved for reimbursement.

The right ergonomic chair can help you achieve proper posture, move more actively, experience less pain at your desk job. Take control over how you sit for 8 hours a day to avoid chronic back and neck issues down the road. Your body and wallet will thank you!