Exemptions and the Long-Term Care payroll deduction mandate

May 6, 2021
Written by Rose Gundersen, VP of Operations & Retail Services

The recent passage of HB 1323 offered a few key changes to the nation’s first long-term care mandate program originally passed in 2019 under HB 1087.

The changes:

  • Limit the time for exemption to those who have purchased long-term care insurance by November 1, 2021,
  • Require the program to offer employers educational materials via a website in English and other primary languages,
  • Mandate the LTSS Commission to work with insurers to develop long-term care supplemental benefit products, and

While there are many outstanding questions related to this new payroll deduction mandate effective January 1, 2022, Washington Retail obtained answers to a few key questions important to the employer community through the Washington Cares Fund (program name for the new mandate).

  • How is the self-employed exemption defined? The definition is the same as it is for those who are exempt from Paid Family Medical Leave based on the reference in RCW 50B.04.010 (7-9). Opt-in is available with time limitations.
  • Unlike the Paid Family Medical Leave with a deduction limit tied to the Social Security tax ($142,800 in 2021), the $0.58 per $100 of earnings premium rate applies to the whole paycheck without a ceiling.
  • Though the contribution rate is based on earnings, the lifetime maximum benefit of $36,500 with cost-of-living built-in is the same for all.
  • The benefit is not portable from state to state. In other words, Washington state workers who move out of state or retire to a different state will not be able to access benefits regardless of the amount of their contribution.

Though this program is solely funded by workers, employers are responsible to communicate and process premiums. Contact the Washington Cares Fund for questions or consider joining their email list.