ABOUT THE WA CARES FUND
A LONG-TERM CARE FUND FOR EVERYONE
Washington state is the first in the nation to develop a way to make long-term care affordable for all workers in the state as we age. WA Cares Fund is a new earned benefit to ensure working Washingtonians can access long-term care when they need it.
LTSS TRUST ACT TIMELINE
WA Cares Fund is the result of years of research on how to make long-term care affordable for everyone in Washington. Before creating the program, the state studied data and worked with experts to explore public and private solutions.
Based on that research, WA Cares Fund was designed to offer a modest benefit at an affordable cost. The program provides everyone with a modest level of coverage and people who want more can buy supplemental private insurance, much like how Social Security and 401(k) plans work together.
Governor Inslee signed the LTSS Trust Act into law.
Legislature passed reforms to improve program and address coverage gaps.
January: Exemption applications available for certain groups
July: Workers begin contributing
July: Benefits become available for qualified, eligible individuals
2022 PROGRAM IMPROVEMENTS
We’re already listening to your feedback and working to make WA Cares Fund better.
In 2021, the Long-Term Services and Supports (LTSS) Trust Commission developed a report to the Legislature with policy options for addressing some of the issues raised most frequently by the public.
In 2022, the Legislature made key improvements to the program and shifted the timeline for implementation. Changes include:
- People who are near retirement earn partial benefits for each year they work. Anyone born before January 1968 can earn 10% of the full benefit amount for each year they work at least 500 hours.
- Workers who live out of state, workers on non-immigrant visas and military spouses can opt out. These groups will be able to apply for a voluntary exemption starting January 1, 2023. Workers with these exemptions will begin contributing if their situation changes and they no longer qualify for an exemption.
- Veterans with a 70% or higher service-connected disability can opt out. These workers have access to some long-term care benefits through the VA and may choose to apply for a permanent exemption from WA Cares Fund starting January 1, 2023.
- Contributions will begin July 1, 2023 and benefits will become available July 1, 2026. Employers who have already collected premiums are responsible for reimbursing employees within 120 days of collecting them.
In 2022, the LTSS Trust Commission also studied ways to make benefits available to people who qualify for benefits, then move out of state. The Commission submitted this analysis on benefit portability in a 2022 recommendations report to the Legislature.
HOW IT WORKS
Washington workers will pay up to $0.58 per $100 of earnings. Every employee contributes – employers do not.
Starting in July 2026, each person who is eligible to receive the benefit can access care costing up to $36,500 (adjusted annually for inflation) over their lifetime.
To be eligible to receive the benefit, you must meet contribution requirements and need help with activities of daily living.
If you’re self-employed, you can choose to opt in and protect yourself with affordable WA Cares Fund benefits.
Our employer & community toolkit materials are designed for employers, business and professional organizations, community groups and anyone who wants to communicate about the WA Cares Fund.
For questions about the program, you can contact us.