Washington’s Long-Term Services and Supports Trust Act (also known as WA Cares), enacted in 2019, provides affordable long-term care benefits for employees in Washington. In December 2021, premium collections under the Act were postponed to make necessary adjustments to improve the program. On January 27, 2022, Washington State Governor Inslee signed House Bills 1732 and 1733, amending the Act as follows:
[Payroll Deductions and Reporting]
- Beginning July 1, 2023, employers must collect WA Cares premiums through payroll deductions and, from October 2023, report employees’ wages and hours to the Employment Security Department (ESD) at the end of each quarter.
- Benefits become available July 1, 2026.
[Exemption from WA Cares]
- December 31, 2022 remains as the deadline to apply for a permanent exemption from WA Cares if employees had private long-term care insurance before November 1, 2021.
- If employees previously applied for a private insurance exemption, and were approved by the ESD, those exemptions are still valid.
- Beginning January 1, 2023, veterans with a 70% service-connected disability or higher may apply for a permanent exemption from WA Cares.
- Beginning January 1, 2023, employees with any of the following categories are eligible to apply for a conditional exemption from WA Cares:
- Employees living outside of Washington while working in-state;
- Spouses or registered domestic partners of an active-duty military member; or
- Employees temporarily working in Washington on non-immigrant work visa.
- If the employees no longer qualify for an exemption due to the reasons listed below, they must notify ESD and their employer within 90 days; otherwise, they will be permanently ineligible of WA Cares benefits:
- Discharge or separation from military service of the employee’s spouse or registered domestic partner;
- Dissolution of the employee’s marriage or registered domestic partnership with the active-duty military member;
- The employee no longer holding a temporary non-immigrant work visa and becoming a permanent resident or citizen; or
- The employee establishing a residency in Washington.
The following changes were also made to the Act:
- Beginning July 1, 2026, employees who were born before January 1, 1968 (and thus close to retirement) and contributed premiums for at least one year (but do not otherwise meet the duration requirements) may receive 10% of the full benefit amount for each year of premium payments.
- Beginning July 1, 2023 (as opposed to January 1, 2022), any self-employed person, including a sole proprietor, independent contractor, partner, or joint venturer, may elect coverage under the Act. Coverage must be elected before July 1, 2026 (as opposed to January 1, 2025), or within three years of becoming self-employed for the first time.
Reference: 2022 Washington Long-Term Care Program
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