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.
Workers in Washington state 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.
Beginning July 1, workers will pay 0.58% of every $100 earned to fund the program. Some workers are eligible to receive an exemption from the paycheck deductions, like workers who are unlikely to be able to use the benefits.
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.
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.
Learn more on the WA Cares Fund website.