WA Cares Fund program update: Mandatory payroll deductions begin July 1, 2023

The WA Cares Fund is a mandatory long-term care insurance benefit established by state law. It can be used to purchase long-term care services, which may include professional care, equipment, home safety evaluations, and/or compensation for family members who provide care. The WA Cares Fund is administered by the Washington State Employment Security Department (ESD) and the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS).

Beginning July 1, 2023, all employers in Washington are required to collect the WA Cares Fund premium for the State via mandatory payroll deduction from all employees, unless they have been granted an exemption.

The current premium rate is 0.58% of gross wages, or $0.58 per $100. For example, if an employee earns $50,000 annually, the total annual premium is $290 or $11.15 per paycheck. Use the WA Cares Fund calculator to Estimate your contribution.

Qualifying for benefits

You may qualify for WA Cares Fund benefits after contributing for a certain number of years. To learn more about how to qualify for WA Cares Fund benefits go to Earning Your Benefits. Starting as early as July 1, 2026, benefits can be used to purchase long-term care services.

Exemptions to the WA Cares Fund

Some employees may be eligible for a permanent or conditional exemption from the WA Cares Fund. For the most current information and to request a program exemption, go to the official state website: WA CARES Act Exemptions & Information. Below is a general list of exemption types:

  • Military veterans with a service-connected disability rating of 70% or greater.
  • Out-of-state workers.
  • Workers with non-immigrant visas.
  • Spouses/state-registered domestic partners of an active-duty U.S. armed services member.

Note: Employees 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. Those exemptions are still valid. If you have already submitted your approved exemption letter to King County, there is no need to resubmit it.

If you are granted an exemption from ESD, submit a copy of your final approval letter and your nine-digit PeopleSoft ID# by email to: WA.CARES.Exemption.Letters@kingcounty.gov or by U.S. mail to: Central Payroll WA CARES, 401 5th Avenue, Seattle, WA 98104. Central Payroll will review your exemption letter and will work to get the mandatory deduction turned off. You are not entitled to a refund of premiums taken before you notified King County.

More information

King County does not administer any part of the program beyond collecting premiums via payroll deduction and reporting employee pay and hours to ESD. To learn more about submitting an exemption approval letter, go to the King County WA Cares Fund webpage.

For more information about the program, go to Contact the WA Cares Fund or call 844-CARE4WA (844-227-3492). The state also offers a newsletter, FAQ, and live webinar sessions to help you learn more about the WA Cares Fund and get your questions answered. Go to Learn More on the WA Cares Fund website.