New LTC benefits for WA residents

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Washington State passed a new law to establish public long-term care benefits for residents called “WA Cares.” The program will be paid for by a 0.58% required tax (or $0.58 per $100 of earnings) on employee wages beginning January of 2022. After the vesting period, you will have access to benefits up to $36,500 (lifetime limit).

According to the WA Cares Fund website: to qualify for benefits you must have worked and contributed:

  • for at least 10 years at any point in your life without a break of 5 or more years during those 10 years, or
  • 3 of the last 6 years at the time you apply for benefits, and
  • Have worked at least 500 hours per year during those 10 years.

Exceptions to the tax include self-employed individuals (although you can opt-in in January 2022), employees of federal tribes or the federal government, and employees subject to a collective bargaining agreement in place as of October 19, 2017.

Washington taxpayers have ONE opportunity to opt-out of this program, and only if they acquire a private long-term care insurance policy by November 1st, 2021.

To claim an exemption and opt-out, you must apply for an exemption with the Washington State Department of Employment Security between October 1st, 2021 and December 31st, 2022. If approved, you must provide written notice to your employer. Exemptions are permanent and you cannot opt back into the program.

If you’d like to explore your options regarding private long-term care coverage so that you can qualify for the exemption, please consult your insurance agent.

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