EXEMPTIONS

How to know if an exemption is right for you

Already have a long-term care plan?

WA Cares can supplement private long-term care benefits, especially if you won’t retire for three or more years. You can also choose to apply for an exemption from WA Cares coverage. Learn more about vesting in WA Cares Fund.

Considering a private long-term care insurance plan?

You may be able to purchase a new private policy before Nov. 1, 2021. If you do, you can still participate in WA Cares Fund or — if you’ve purchased a qualifying plan — you can apply for an exemption from the public benefit.

Your choice is permanent

If you apply and are approved for an exemption, you’ll be permanently disqualified from WA Cares. This means you may never re-enroll and you’ll be prohibited from getting WA Cares benefits, even if you need them.

Differences between WA Cares Fund and private long-term care insurance plans

WA Cares FundPrivate insurance plans
You only pay WA Cares Fund premiums while you’re working—not after retirement
Private long-term care insurance usually requires continuous payments. If you don’t keep up, your policy could lapse and leave you without coverage.
You can access benefits after three years of contributions. And after paying into the WA Cares Fund for ten years, the money is available to you for life. Learn more about temporary and permanent vesting.
If you stop paying your premium, you may lose your coverage.
WA Cares will provide you with coverage as long as you’ve worked long enough to vest and retire in Washington state. Learn more about temporary and permanent vesting.
The cost of private group policies, like those provided by some employers, may change if you leave that employer or retire.
No matter your age or health status, the WA Cares Fund provides affordable long-term care coverage.
Private insurers may deny coverage based on age or health status.
The current rate for WA Cares premiums is only 0.58 percent of your earnings. For someone with annual wages of $50,000, that’s $290 a year in premiums.
Private plans may cost more depending on age or health status, and rates can fluctuate. The Office of the Insurance Commissioner has seen rate increases ranging from 20 to 79 percent.
You can use your WA Cares benefits as soon as you’re vested and found eligible.    After you’re determined eligible, private plans may require a waiting period before paying benefits.
After you’re determined eligible, private plans may require a waiting period before paying benefits.
WA Cares can pay for in-home care, facility care, equipment, training, consultation, meal delivery and family-provided care. Learn more about WA Cares benefits.
Private plans may limit benefits or have extra requirements for accessing benefits.

Applying for an exemption

Requirements

To apply for a permanent exemption, you must: 

  • Have purchased a qualifying private long-term care insurance plan before Nov. 1, 2021. Learn more about what qualifies as a long-term care policy under state law.
  • Be at least 18 years of age. 
  • Submit an exemption application to the Employment Security Department (ESD). Exemption applications became available on Oct. 1, 2021. ESD can only accept exemption applications through Dec. 31, 2022.

Next steps 

ESD will review your application and notify you if you’re eligible for an exemption from WA Cares coverage.  

If your application is approved

You’ll get an exemption approval letter from ESD, at which point you’ll be:

  • Expelled from the program with no option to re-enroll. 
  • Disqualified from accessing WA Cares benefits in your lifetime. 
  • Required to present your exemption approval letter to all current and future employers. If you fail to present your ESD approval letter, employers will withhold non-refundable WA Cares premiums. 

Exemptions will take effect the quarter after your application is approved.

Need assistance?

Learn more 

Need more info?

  • Visit our Learn More page to read our frequently asked questions, including specific questions about exemptions.
  • Email wacaresexemptions@esd.wa.gov and a member of our team at the Employment Security Department will follow up with you.
  • Call the Employment Security Department’s WA Cares representatives at the (833) 717-2273.