Applying for Benefits

Do you need help with three or more activities of daily living, such as bathing, eating or managing medications? Starting in July 2026, you may be able to access your WA Cares benefit.

How to Apply

WA Cares benefits become available July 1, 2026, to workers who have met contribution requirements and need care. Starting in 2026, you will be able to create an account and apply for benefits. Here’s what the process will include. 

1  Create a WA Cares Fund account


You will start by creating an account with a username and password. If you are helping a family member with their benefits, you will be able to sign up as an authorized representative.



2  Submit an application


You will answer a few questions about your care needs that will be reviewed by our team.



3  Discuss your care needs


You'll be able to schedule a time to talk with a representative about your care needs either in-person or over the phone.



4  Receive your determination


You will let us know how you want to receive messages (email, text, or mail) about your application. We will notify you about whether you qualify to start receiving your benefit. If you don't qualify, you have the option to submit an appeal.



woman filling out an online application


Need care before WA Cares benefits become available? Contact your local Area Agency on Aging to learn more about resources in your community.

How do I qualify?


Through the benefit application process, including a conversation with a representative, we'll learn more about your situation and help you identify various types of long-term care support that could be helpful. 


Do you need help with any of these?


You must need help with at least three of any of these activities of daily living listed below.

mobility icon


Moving from one place to another 


Transferring to a chair


Getting in or out of bed

personal hygiene icon




Going to the toilet

medication icon

Eating & medications



Taking medications

Cognitive Function

Cognitive functioning

Memory and recall


Decision making with everyday tasks

Additional Requirements

Starting in July 2026, Washington workers can choose to continue participating in the WA Cares Fund if they move out of state. To become an out-of-state participant, workers must have contributed to WA Cares for at least three years (in which they worked at least 500 hours per year) and must opt in within a year of leaving Washington.


Like other workers, out-of-state participants will keep contributing to the fund during their working years. The state will create a process for out-of-state participants to report their earnings and pay premiums, with a focus on making it easy for participants.

No income or asset restrictions


Unlike Medicaid, you do not have to spend down your life savings or have low income to qualify for your WA Cares benefit. Your qualification is only based on your personal need for care (see the list above) and how long you've contributed to the WA Cares Fund. Learn more about the contribution requirement.

older man looking up at trees