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WA Cares Fund

WA Cares Fund

State program to help with long-term care costs

The WA Cares Fund is a mandatory long-term care insurance program administered by the Washington State Employment Security Department (ESD) and the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS). Starting July 1, 2026, benefits 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.

All employers in Washington are required to collect the mandatory payroll deduction from employees and forward the funds to the state of Washington.

The WA Cares Fund is not a leave program, but it can be used at the same time as a leave, including Washington Paid Family & Medical Leave (PFML), and insurance, including long-term disability insurance.

Learn more: Education sessions and FAQ

Contact the WA Cares Fund

For more information, 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 website.

Mandatory employee payroll deductions begin July 1, 2023

The WA Cares Fund is supported by mandatory premiums paid by all employees in Washington. The premium has been set by state law at 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. To calculate your contribution amount, go to Estimate your contribution.

Employee payroll deductions begin July 1, 2023.

Qualifying for benefits
You may qualify for WA Cares Fund benefits after contributing for a certain number of years. The following table summarizes the three ways you can qualify for WA Cares Fund benefits.

Full benefit, early access

Full benefit, lifetime access

Partial benefit, lifetime access

What it does

Allows workers to get full coverage and ongoing care if they need it while working or soon after they leave the workforce

Provides lifetime access to the full benefit for workers who contribute over the long term

Ensures people who are near retirement when WA Cares Fund launches can earn some benefits

Requirements to qualify

Contributed at least 3 of the past 6 years at the time you apply for benefits

Contributed for 10 years at any time in your life (without a gap of 5 or more consecutive years)

Born before Jan. 1, 1968, and contributed for at least one year

Benefit amount available

Full benefit ($36,500)*

Full benefit ($36,500)*

Partial benefit (10% of benefit amount* for each year worked)

Type of access

Access as long as you meet the requirements when you first apply for care

Lifetime access until benefit is used up

Lifetime access until benefit is used up

 *Benefit amount is adjusted annually up to inflation

Exemptions to the WA Cares Fund

Some Washingtonians may be eligible for a permanent or conditional exemption from the WA Cares Fund. An employee with a permanent exemption from the WA Cares Fund premium is permanently ineligible from receiving benefits under the program and cannot rejoin the program later.

For the most current information and to request a program exemption, go to the official state website: WA Cares Exemptions. A general list of exemption types is listed below:

1. Military veterans with a service-connected disability rating of 70% or greater.

2. Out-of-state workers.

3. Workers with non-immigrant visas.

4. 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. This opt-out provision is no longer available.

​Applying for an exemption

An employee who wishes to apply for an exemption must make the application on their own by visiting the WA Cares website. If an exemption is approved, the employee will receive an official letter from the Washington Employment Security Department (ESD) which must be submitted to King County, as follows:

Step 1: Apply for an exemption here: WA Cares Exemptions

Step 2: Once approved by the ESD, submit a copy of your approval letter and your nine-digit PeopleSoft ID# by email to: or by U.S. mail to: Central Payroll WA CARES, 401 5th Avenue, Seattle, WA 98104.
Note: This only applies to the final approved letter and does not apply to the letter saying a decision is pending or any other type of letter from the ESD.

Step 3: Central Payroll will review the exemption letters 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 by providing the approved ESD exemption letter to Central Payroll

Quick Links

Benefits and retirement

Phone 206-684-1556
Fax: 206-296-7700

Phone hours:
9 a.m. – 4 p.m. weekdays

Fax: 206-296-7678