WA Cares Fund

Washington state is the first in the nation to develop a way to make long-term care affordable for all workers in the state as we age.  WA Cares Fund is a new earned benefit to ensure working Washingtonians can access long-term care when they need it. 


Contributions - 

WA Cares Fund is a benefit you earn, like Social Security.  WA Cares Fund benefits are funded entirely by worker premiums.  Workers will begin contributing to WA Cares Fund on July 1, 2023.  Washington workers will pay up to $0.58 per $100 of earnings.  Every employee contributes - employers do not.

There are some exceptions who will not contribute to the program.

Exempt - 

  • 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 option 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.

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 December 31, 2022.

Benefits -
Starting in July 2026, each person who is eligible to receive the benefit can access care costing up to $36,500 (adjusted annually for inflation) over their lifetime.

Eligibility -
To be eligible to receive the benefit, you must meet contribution requirements and need help with activities of daily living.

Full benefit, early access.  After contributing to WA Cares Fund for three years (working at least 500 hours per year), 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.

Full benefit, lifetime access.  You earn lifetime coverage by contributing to WA Cares Fund for ten 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. 

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 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.