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In 2019, the state of Washington enacted the Long-term Services & Supports Trust (LTSS) Program, a long-term care insurance program, funded by employee contributions via payroll tax. Under this program, most Washingtonians, both public and private W-2 earners, would receive a one-time $36,500 benefit for long-term care. Premiums will start January 1, 2022; long-term care benefits will become available starting in 2025. Everyone working in Washington State must participate and pay premiums, unless approved to opt-out of the program.

By October 1, 2021, the ESD and the Department of Social and Health Services must provide employers with educational materials to ensure that employees are aware of the long-term care program and that the premium assessments begin on January 1, 2022. The agencies must provide information about the Trust Program and premiums on a website and make the information available in English and other primary languages.

What’s the cost?  The premium rate is 0.58% or 58 cents per $100 of earnings. Starting January 1, 2022, the State is required to collect premiums through payroll deductions from all employees. They are still waiting for guidance if this premium assessment takes effect on January 1, 2022 for those covered under the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) or if the premium assessment is delayed until the CBA is reopened on April 1, 2023.

What’s the benefit?  Benefits begin January 1, 2025 and can be used for various long-term care services, which are generally not covered by health insurance or Medicare.  The maximum lifetime benefit is $36,500, which may be adjusted over time.  To qualify for benefits, you must meet certain criteria:

  • Contributed to the program for at least ten years without a break of five or more years, or three of the past six years at the time you apply for the benefit and worked at least 500 hours per year during those years.
  • Need assistance with at least three activities of daily living.
  • Reside in Washington State.

Can I opt-out?  Yes, there is a one-time opportunity to opt out if you have a qualifying long-term care insurance in place before November 1, 2021. You may file an opt-out application with the Employment Security Department between October 1, 2021 and December 31, 2022. Once you opt-out, you will never have access to the LTSS benefit.  

Next steps?

  • Do nothing. Working in Washington State will automatically make you a participant in the LTSS program and you may be eligible to receive long-term care benefits when and if you need them. To learn more about the state program, visit wacaresfund.wa.gov.
  • Go shopping. Individual long-term care insurance is available through various insurance carriers. Coverage is subject to evidence of insurability and rates are typically higher than group insurance rates.



Friday, 08 October 2021