EARNING YOUR BENEFITS
As of January 2022, WA Cares Fund has a new timeline and improved coverage. Changes include:
- Near-retirees earn partial benefits for each year they work
- Certain workers who would be unlikely to qualify or use their benefits can request an exemption. These are workers who live out of state, military spouses, workers on non-immigrant visas and veterans with a service connected disability rating of 70% or more.
HOW CONTRIBUTIONS WORK
WA Cares Fund is a benefit you earn, like Social Security, to ensure all Washingtonians can access affordable long-term care.
WA Cares Fund benefits are funded entirely by worker premiums. By contributing a small amount from each paycheck while working, you can pay for long-term care when you need it.
Workers will begin contributing to WA Cares Fund on July 1, 2023.
You only contribute to WA Cares Fund while you’re working. As soon as you retire, you stop contributing. Similarly, if you become unemployed or leave the workforce to care for a child or other loved one, contributions stop.
Almost all workers in Washington will contribute to WA Cares Fund, including part-time and temporary workers.
There are some exceptions:
- Federal employees who work in Washington do not contribute to the program.
- Employees of tribal businesses only contribute if the tribe has chosen to opt in.
- People who are self-employed can choose to opt in and earn benefits.
Groups with optional exemptions
Certain groups of workers can choose to opt out of the program starting January 1, 2023.
Some of these optional exemptions are based on the worker’s situation. Workers with these exemptions will begin contributing to WA Cares Fund again if their situation changes and they no longer meet the exemption criteria. Workers eligible for exemptions include:
- Workers whose permanent home address is outside Washington
- Temporary workers on a non-immigrant visa
- Spouses or registered domestic partners of active-duty military members
Veterans with 70% or higher service-connected disabilities can choose to opt of the program permanently, since they have some access to nursing home care through the VA. These workers can stay enrolled in WA Cares Fund to make sure they can access a full range of affordable long-term care benefits.
Private insurance exemptions
If you purchased a qualifying private long-term care insurance plan by November 1, 2021, you can apply for a permanent exemption from WA Cares Fund. The deadline for applying for this type of exemption is Dec. 31, 2022.
Estimate your contribution
Washington workers will contribute up to $0.58 per $100 of earnings.
For example, the median worker in Washington earns $52,075 per year and would contribute $302 per year in premiums. That’s about $25 per month.
Enter your annual gross pay in the calculator below to estimate your contributions.
Value for your money
With no underwriting and no need to make a profit, WA Cares Fund can provide a higher benefit for every dollar you contribute than most private insurance companies. Your contributions go into a dedicated fund that can only be used for this program.
QUALIFYING FOR BENEFITS
After contributing for a certain number of years, you’ll qualify for WA Cares Fund benefits.
Summary of coverage types
There are three ways you can qualify for WA Cares Fund benefits.
|Full benefit, early access||Full benefit, lifetime access||Partial benefit, lifetime access|
|What it does||Allows workers to get full coverage and ongoing care if they need it while working or soon after they leave the workforce||Provides lifetime access to the full benefit for workers who contribute over the long term||Ensures people who are near retirement when WA Cares Fund launches can earn some benefits|
|Requirements to qualify||Contributed at least 3 of the past 6 years at the time you apply for benefits||Contributed for 10 years at any time in your life (without a gap of 5 or more consecutive years)||Born before January 1, 1968 and contributed for at least one year|
|Benefit amount available||Full benefit ($36,500)*||Full benefit ($36,500)*||Partial benefit (10% of benefit amount* for each year worked)|
|Type of access||Access as long as you meet the requirements when you first apply for care||Lifetime access until benefit is used up||Lifetime access until benefit is used up|
To earn benefits, you must work at least 500 hours per year (about 10 hours per week)
Full benefit, early access
After contributing to WA Cares Fund for three years, you’ve earned temporary coverage. Temporary coverage gives you access to the full benefit amount if you need care while working or soon after you stop working.
You qualify for temporary coverage if you meet both these requirements on the date you apply for benefits:
- Contributed for three out of the last six years
- Worked at least 500 hours per year
You don’t have to work for three years in a row to qualify. As long as you contributed for three full years within the past six years, you will qualify for temporary coverage.
Full benefit, lifetime access
You earn lifetime coverage by contributing to WA Cares Fund for 10 years (working at least 500 hours per year) at any point in your life without a break of five or more years. Once you earn lifetime coverage, you can access the full benefit amount at any point in your life when you need care.
A break of five or more consecutive years before you reach the 10-year mark restarts your progress toward lifetime coverage.
Partial benefit, lifetime access
People who were born before January 1, 1968 and have contributed to WA Cares Fund for at least one year will have permanent access to a partial benefit. For each year you work at least 500 hours, you will earn 10% of the full benefit amount.
For example, someone who worked for four years before retiring would be able to access 40% of the benefit amount.
This type of coverage was created to ensure people near retirement when WA Cares Fund launches can earn some permanent benefits without having to work for 10 more years. People born on or after January 1, 1968 cannot qualify for this type of coverage.
Depending on your situation at the time when you need care, you may meet the qualifications for both partial and temporary coverage. For as long as you meet the qualifications for temporary coverage, you can access the full benefit amount. Once you no longer qualify for temporary coverage, you’ll still be able to access the partial benefit you earned.
ELIGIBILITY FOR BENEFITS
To use the benefits you’ve earned, you must need help with activities of daily living. Learn more about eligibility requirements and applying for benefits.