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Eligible for a WA Cares exemption? Apply before July 1 to avoid charges

May 25, 2023

Employees without a WA Cares exemption will soon start seeing smaller paychecks. That’s because Washington’s state long-term care program, the WA Cares Fund, requires employers to start withholding premiums for the program starting July 1, 2023. BIAW has been sharing this information for weeks now.

Who has WA Cares exemptions?

Before the Legislature put the program on pause, workers with private long-term care insurance could apply for an exemption for the program. They had to have proof of the insurance policy by Nov. 1, 2021. Then they had until Dec. 31, 2022, to apply and receive their exemption letter.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2023, Washington workers became eligible to receive exemptions if they:

  • Live outside of Washington.
  • Are the spouse or registered domestic partner of an active-duty service member of the US military.
  • Have non-immigrant work visas.
  • Are veterans with a 70% service-connected disability rating or higher.

There’s no deadline to apply for these exemptions. However, employees who apply for and receive exemption letters before the payroll deductions start will avoid having premiums withheld.

If you’re an employer, you’ll want to check with your employees and obtain a copy of their exemption letters so you don’t accidentally withhold premiums from them.

Want a WA Cares exemption?

People have to apply for and receive an exemption letter to provide to their employers. The Employment Security Department processes applications for those wishing to seek an exemption under these new categories.

If ESD approves an exemption, the employee receives an exemption approval letter from the ESD. Employees have to present these letters to all current and future employers. Once an employee provides an approval letter to their employer and the effective date of the exemption has passed, employers must stop withholding premiums. If employers continue to withhold premiums, they must return them to the employee.

Please note: If employees fail to present approval letters to employers, any premiums that may have been collected will not count toward benefit eligibility and employers have no responsibility to return those premiums.

Learn more about exemptions and about the program in general at

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