Workers: 4 things you need to know
1. Learn how the program works
While 7 in 10 of us will need long-term care at some point in our lives, most of us don’t have a way to pay for it. Because long-term care is not medical care, it’s almost never covered by health insurance or Medicare. To qualify for Medicaid long-term care, you must spend down your life savings to just $2,000. The WA Cares Fund is an earned benefit that makes long-term care insurance affordable for all Washington workers as they age, without income or asset tests.
Workers contribute 0.58% of each paycheck during their working years to be able to access a $36,500 lifetime benefit (adjusted annually for inflation) that can help pay for long-term care services when needed.
WA Cares is designed to help you live independently in your home as long as possible. Benefits can be used for a wide range of services like in-home care, paying a family caregiver, home safety modifications, home-delivered meals, transportation and more.
Workers begin contributing to WA Cares on July 1, 2023 and benefits become available July 1, 2026. In order to use your benefit, you must meet a contribution requirement as well as a care need requirement.
Learn more about how WA Cares works.
2. Plan for your contribution
Washington workers earn $36,500 in lifetime long-term care insurance coverage (adjusted annually for inflation) by contributing 0.58% of their wages during their working years.
The typical Washington worker earning just over $50,000 per year will contribute about $24 per month.
Make sure you know how much your contribution will be so you can plan ahead! You can use our calculator to estimate your contribution.
3. If you want an exemption and meet the criteria, submit your application
While almost all Washington workers will contribute to WA Cares, there are several groups of workers who can apply for exemptions:
- Workers who had private long-term care insurance before Nov. 1, 2021 were able to apply for a permanent exemption until Dec. 31, 2022. The timeframe for applying for this type of exemption has closed. If you have an approved private insurance exemption, you will continue to be exempt permanently and (under current law) are not able to re-enroll in the program.
- Veterans with a 70% or higher service-connected disability can apply for a permanent exemption. Applications for this type of exemption became available Jan. 1, 2022 and are available on an ongoing basis.
- Workers who live out of state, temporary workers with non-immigrant visas, and spouses/registered domestic partners of active-duty service members of the U.S. armed forces can apply for conditional exemptions. Applications for these exemptions became available Jan. 1, 2022 and are available on an ongoing basis. You will qualify for these exemptions only as long as these circumstances apply and you must notify your employer and the Employment Security Department (ESD) within 90 days if you no longer qualify.
If you’re applying for an exemption, plan ahead! Make sure to submit your exemption application to ESD and (if approved) provide your exemption letter to your employer as soon as possible to ensure premiums aren’t deducted from your paycheck. It is your responsibility to provide your letter to your employer and refunds will not be available if you don’t submit your letter in time.
4. Get your questions answered
Find webinar recordings and dates for upcoming webinars to learn more about the program. You can also contact us if you still have questions. To stay up to date on WA Cares news and events, subscribe to our mailing list.