During the 2022 legislative session, Governor Inslee and the legislature created several exemption pathways for Washington workers who aren’t likely to use their WA Cares benefits in the future. This page details what we know about those exemptions so far, when you can apply and what it means for your WA Cares benefit going forward.
Beginning Jan. 1, 2023, Washington workers became eligible for exemptions from WA Cares if any of the following apply to them:
- Live outside of Washington.
- Are the spouse or registered domestic partner of an active-duty service member of the United States armed forces.
- Have a non-immigrant work visa.
- Are a veteran with a 70% service-connected disability rating or higher.
Exception: Veterans with a 70% service-connected disability rating or higher will receive a permanent exemption.
Applying for an exemption
Unlike the previous exemption pathway, which had a deadline to apply, these exemptions became available on an ongoing basis Jan. 1, 2023. The Employment Security Department is responsible for processing applications for those wishing to seek an exemption under these new categories. Sign up for the WA Cares Fund mailing list to receive updated information about exemptions, as well as other important program news.
If your exemption is approved
You will receive an exemption approval letter from the ESD, which you will need to present to all your current and future employers. Once you provide your approval letter to your employers and the effective date of your exemption has passed, your employers must stop withholding premiums. If your employers continue to withhold premiums, they must return them to you.
Please note: If you fail to present your approval letter to your employers, any premiums that may have been collected will not count toward benefit eligibility and employers have no responsibility to return those premiums to you.
Exemptions will take effect the quarter after your application is approved.
Private Insurance Opt-Out
Those who had private long-term care insurance on or before Nov. 1, 2021, were able to apply for an exemption from the WA Cares Fund from Oct. 1, 2021, until Dec. 31, 2022. This opt-out provision is no longer available.
Looking for more information on exemptions?
Find answers to frequently asked questions about exemptions in our Help & Support center.
You can reach ESD’s WA Cares Fund representatives at email@example.com or by calling (833) 717- 2273.