In 2019 Washington state enacted the first public long-term care insurance benefit for residents of the state. Known as the Long Term Services and Support Trust Act, this coverage is funded by a worker payroll tax of $0.58 per $100 of income, beginning in January 2022. Benefits will start in January of 2025 for workers who have vested in the trust. Individuals who qualify will have access to a lifetime benefit of $36,500 that will be adjusted annually for inflation.
The goal of this trust is to protect workers against the economic impact of needing long-term care as they age and to better position the state to cope with fiscal impact of the coming age wave and long-term care challenge. These benefits can be used for a range of services and supports, including:
To qualify for benefits from the Trust, you must have worked and contributed to the Trust for:
In order to receive benefits, you must be a current Washington resident and need assistance with at least three activities of daily living such as:
It is possible to opt-out of this program if you have your own long-term care insurance policy in place before November 1st 2021. You must submit an attestation that you purchased your long term care policy to the Washington State Employment Security Department between October 1, 2021, and December 31, 2022. If your request is approved, you will receive a letter from the Employment Security Department and your exemption will take effect the following calendar quarter. You will need to provide a copy to your current employer and all future employers. If you fail to inform your employer that you are exempt from the payroll tax deduction, you are not entitled to a refund of any tax paid into the program.
WashingtonLTCtrust.org has an online calculator that will hep you determine how much the tax will cost you and if you may be better off buying an individual Long Term Care insurance plan. It is important that you carefully consider the ramifications of requesting an exemption as you may not be able to opt in at a later date. Always consult a trusted expert to discuss your options before making a final decision.
Ty Strahl is the Spokane areas leading Certified Senior Advisor (CSA). Her job is to help navigate the many aspects of aging and to help seniors who are in transition to find the right solutions for their individual needs.