Self-Employed Elective Coverage

If you’re self-employed, you can choose to elect coverage and protect yourself with the same affordable benefits available to other Washington workers. Applications became available on July 1, 2023.

How WA Cares Can Help the Self-Employed

Affordable access to long-term care benefits


If you’re a self-employed earner, WA Cares is your key to long-term care coverage. Your contribution is just as low as traditional workers. You’ll pay the current premium rate, which is 0.58 percent, of:


  • Your net earnings.
  • Gross wages, if any, paid to you from your business entity.


That’s about $300 per year for the median Washington worker, much less than most private insurance.

Women working outside
African American man working from home talking on phone and taking notes

Get the Benefits of WA Cares


By electing WA Cares coverage, you’ll gain:


  • Peace of mind: Once you’re vested, you’re insured against long-term care up to $36,500 over your lifetime.


  • Financial security: Unlike Medicaid, WA Cares doesn’t make you spend down your savings before coverage kicks in.


  • Choice: You decide how and where to use your benefits.



If you have qualifying wages for Paid Family and Medical Leave, they’ll also qualify for WA Cares. In other words, you’re eligible if you’re:


  • A sole proprietor.


  • A joint venturer or a member of a partnership.


  • A member of a limited liability company (LLC).



  • Otherwise in business for yourself.


Corporate officers are not self-employed. See Paid Family and Medical Leave’s Help center for more on corporations and LLCs.


Still have questions? Check out our Frequently asked questions.


Elect coverage today


If you elect coverage between July 1 and Sept. 30, 2023, your coverage will start Oct. 1, 2023. If you elect coverage after this point, your effective date of coverage will be the first day of the quarter immediately following your election.


Remember, if you elect coverage before Oct. 1, 2023, you must fulfill your contribution requirement in Q4 to qualify 2023 as a contribution year. If you elect between Oct. 1 and Dec 31, 2023, your contributions will begin Jan. 1, 2024.


What is the contribution requirement? Like all Washingtonians, each calendar year you work at least 500 hours will count toward your contribution requirement. For those who elect coverage, we determine hours worked by dividing your gross annual wages by the current minimum wage.


Example: The 2023 minimum wage is $15.74/hour. If you opt in during Q3 and earn $7,870 during Q4 (Oct. 1-Dec. 31), you will have worked 500 hours in 2023.



Your SAW account


Like most Washington state agencies, we use SecureAccess Washington (SAW) to manage access to customer accounts. You will need an active SAW account to log-in to Paid Family and Medical Leave and establish a WA Cares Exemption account. SecureAccess Washington is managed by WaTech. If you have questions about your SAW account, go to and click the “GET HELP” button in the menu bar.


Already have a SAW account?


If you already have a SAW account for Paid Leave, log in and click the “Add/Switch Account” link in the menu bar on your account homepage – this will take you to the “Choose an Account” page. Select the “Create a new account” button and then select “Apply for a WA Cares Exemption”.


If you don’t already have a SAW account for Paid Leave, create one using the instructions below.


How do I create a SAW account?


If you don’t already have one, create a SAW account by going to and clicking the “SIGN UP!” button. After entering your first and last names and your email address, and confirming that you’re not a robot, you should receive an email with a link to activate your account. Once your account is active, you’ll need to add “Paid Family and Medical Leave” to your SAW services.


How do I add Paid Family and Medical Leave to my SAW services?


Log-in to your SAW account at, select “Add A New Service,” then:


  1. Select “I would like to browse a list of services.”
  2. Scroll through the list to “Employment Security Department” and select “Paid Family and Medical Leave” from the drop-down menu.
  3. When you see the confirmation screen that lets you know the service has been added to your list, click “OK”, then click “Access Now” to select “Paid Family and Medical Leave” from your list of services to access your account.

Apply for elective coverage


Once you’ve logged in and selected Paid Family and Medical Leave from your list of services in SAW, you’ll click “Continue” to proceed to creating your WA Cares Self-Employed account.


On the “Create an Account” page, select the “Elect Coverage as Self-Employed” button.



You'll start contributing to WA Cares the quarter after you elect coverage, and then submit your first report when that quarter ends. Your WA Cares contributions will continue until you retire or are no longer self-employed.