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WA Cares paycheck deductions begin July 1. Here's what you should know

Beginning July 1, employers in Washington state will start deducting premiums from paychecks for the state’s new long-term care insurance program.

SEATTLE — Beginning July 1, employers in Washington state will start deducting premiums from paychecks for the WA Cares Fund, the state’s new long-term care insurance program. Planners and supporters held a briefing Thursday to give the latest on the program and break down how it's meant to help Washingtonians as they age and their caregivers as well. 

They also launched a new website allowing people to calculate how much they will pay in. The site also explains covered benefits and answers to frequently asked questions.

Eligible workers will pay 0.58% of their paychecks to fund the program. Several categories of workers who are unlikely to pull from the fund are eligible to receive exemptions; information can be found here

The WA Cares Fund will eventually be used to help Washingtonians access a $36,500 benefit - adjusted annually for inflation - for long-term care insurance. Benefits will become available for qualified individuals in July 2026.

“WA Cares represents an innovative new approach to solving long-term care crisis and is a crucial first step towards aging with more dignity and independence,” said Ben Veghte, director of the WA Cares Fund. “WA Cares is designed to help you live independently in your own home as long as possible with services and supports like professional in-home care, making a loved one a paid caregiver, home safety modifications like putting grab bars in the bathrooms, meal delivery, transportation and more.”

“I'm proud to be part of Washington state, and we should all be proud to be part of this because we're leading the nation and making changes for families who are struggling,” said family caregiver Christina Keys. “So what we're doing is not only helping now, but it's going to help the caregivers who will need care one day. So personally, I'm very grateful for what we're doing as a state together.”

Workers in Washington state that are eligible for WA Cares exemptions had until June 1 to apply to avoid the paycheck deductions beginning in July. The state’s Employment Security Department (ESD) said it will continue to process applications received after June 1, but applications approved on or after July 1 will not be effective until Oct. 1 at the earliest.

According to ESD, more than 200,000 workers in the state may still be eligible to receive the exemption but must apply. The WA Cares Fund website said more than 10,000 workers have submitted applications since Jan. 1.

Veterans with a 70% or higher service-connected disability can apply for a permanent exemption, according to the WA Cares Fund website.

Other workers who are eligible for the exemption include:

  • Workers who are a spouse/registered domestic partner of an active-duty U.S. armed forces member.
  • Workers who work in Washington but live out of state.
  • Workers who have a temporary non-immigrant visa, including H-2A and H-1B visas.

These workers are only eligible for the exemption for as long as they remain in the circumstances above. The workers must notify their employer and ESD within 90 days if they no longer qualify, the WA Cares Fund website said.

Workers can apply online for an exemption from WA Cares by visiting its website.

ESD will send an email confirming the application. If approved, workers will be able to access their approval letter through their WA Cares online account within 48 hours of approval. Workers will need to provide the letter to their current and future employers to ensure their paychecks are not deducted.

“WA Cares is a first step towards relieving pressure on families. It's not perfect, but it's getting better every year," Veghte said. "And I think we can all be proud that everyone in our state is going to have that foundation vision of dignity and security when they need it."

Learn more on the WA Cares Fund website.

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