WA Cares Fund
What is the WA Cares Fund?
The WA Cares Fund is a mandatory state-run long-term care (LTC) insurance benefit established by Washington state law in 2019. It includes a variety of services designed to meet a person’s health or personal care needs during a short or long period of time. These services help people when they need assistance to perform everyday activities on their own, such as bathing, dressing, and cooking meals. Long-term care insurance provides the means to cover part or all of the costs for such services.
How much do I contribute?
Starting on the July 25, 2023 paycheck, Western must withhold 0.58% (.0058) from all employee wages (also including part-time and student employees). The tax will be withheld through mandatory paycheck withholdings. All compensation is subject to this tax with no income cap. For example, if the gross amount of your paycheck (before deductions are withheld) is $2,000, $11.60 will be withheld from your paycheck for this tax. For more information about how much you will contribute over your career please see the contribution calculator on the WA Cares Fund website.
Working Washingtonians earn $36,500 in lifetime long-term care insurance coverage (adjusted annually for inflation) by contributing 0.58% of their wages in premiums during their working years. You will only contribute to WA Cares Fund while you’re working. Once you retire or if you leave the workforce temporarily, contributions stop.
Qualifying for WA Cares benefits
You can meet the contribution requirement through one of three pathways:
• Lifetime access: Once you contribute for at least 10 years (without a break of five or more consecutive years), you can access the full benefit amount at any point in life when you need care.
• Early access: If you have contributed for three of the last six years at the time when you need care, you can access the full benefit amount. This ensures you can get benefits if you have a sudden care need during your career or soon after leaving the workforce, even if you don’t yet qualify for lifetime access.
• Partial benefit for near-retirees: If you were born before January 1, 1968, you will earn 10% of the full benefit amount for each year you work, available at any point when you need care. This allows workers who are near retirement as the program begins to get lifetime access to some benefits, even if they aren’t able to meet the 10-year requirement to access the full benefit amount. For a year to count toward contribution requirements, you must work at least 500 hours (about 10 hours per week).
Exemptions from the WA Cares Fund
Private insurance exemptions Workers who had private long-term care insurance on or before Nov. 1, 2021 were able to apply to the Employment Security Department for an exemption from the WA Cares Fund until Dec. 31, 2022. Under current law, these exemptions are permanent and if you have received an approved exemption, you will not be able to enroll in WA Cares.
New exemption categories
As of Jan. 1, 2023, you can apply for an exemption from WA Cares if any of the following applies: • You live outside of Washington.
• You are the spouse or registered domestic partner of an active-duty service member of the U.S. armed forces.
• You have a non-immigrant work visa.
• You are a veteran with a 70% service-connected disability rating or higher.
These exemptions will be available on an ongoing basis. You will qualify for these exemptions only as long as these circumstances apply. If you no longer qualify for your exemption, you will be required to notify ESD and your employer within 90 days. Exception: Veterans with a 70% service-connected disability rating or higher will receive a permanent exemption.
If you would like to apply for an exemption, please visit the WA Cares Fund exemption website and follow their instructions.
Where to send your exemption letter
Once you receive an approved exemption letter it is your responsibility to supply that letter to WWU HR so WWU knows not to deduct a premium from your paycheck. The WA Cares Fund does not notify your employer of your exemption status. Please submit your exemption letter to HR in one of the following ways:
- Email to email@example.com (preferred method)
- Drop off in Humanities room 203 (HR Front desk)
- Interoffice mail to MS 9054
- Please include your W# within the email or written on the letter
We highly recommend for you to submit your exemption via email so there is a record of you submitting it.
Long-Term Care and Long-Term Disability
Please note that long-term care (LTC) and long-term disability (LTD) are two different types of insurance. WWU offers eligible employees a LTD insurance plan through their Public Employee’s Benefits Board (PEBB) coverage. If you have LTD, that does not qualify you for an exemption from the LTC tax with WA Cares.
Learn more about WA Cares
Find webinar recordings and dates for upcoming webinars with more details on the program on the WA Cares website. Contact the WA Cares Fund by visiting their website.