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  • Charlotte Jones

Opting Out of the WA Cares Fund

After reading Kaitlin's post about Washington's new long-term care tax, have you decided to opt out? Washington employees who have eligible private long term care coverage from another source in place by November 1, 2021 can apply with Washington state to opt out of this insurance (and the associate payroll tax) through December 31, 2022. This is a one time application would create a lifetime exemption, and is only available if you have alternate LTC insurance in place by November 1, so time is of the essence. From that point forward it would be the job of the employee to present their opt out status at the time of employment. For more information, visit the WA Cares Fund website.

If you are ready to opt out, we've distilled the information from the WA Cares Fund FAQ into these steps to apply for an exemption:

1. Have the following information handy:

  • Social Security Number

  • Digital file of a photo copy of your Driver's License or Passport that can be uploaded

2. Create an account with Secure Access Washington (if you don't already have one). Create a SAW account by going to and clicking the “SIGN UP!” button.

  • Enter your first and last names and your email address,

  • Confirm you’re not a robot,

  • You should receive an email with a link to activate your account.

3. Once your account is active, add “Paid Family and Medical Leave” to your SAW services.

  • Log-in to your SAW account at,

  • Select “Add A New Service,”

  • Select “I would like to browse a list of services.”

  • Scroll through the list to “Employment Security Department” and select “Paid Family and Medical Leave” from the drop-down menu.

  • When you see the confirmation screen that lets you know the service has been added to your list, click “OK”

4. Proceed to creating your WA Cares Exemption account.

  • While logged in, select “Paid Family and Medical Leave” from your list of services to access your account

  • On the “Create an Account” page, select the “Create an Account” button to the right of “WA Cares Exemption”

  • Fill out the application.

  • ESD will review your application and notify you if you’re eligible for an exemption from WA Cares coverage. You can view the status of your application within your SAW account.

5. You’ll get an exemption approval letter from ESD, at which point you’ll be:

  • Expelled from the program with no option to re-enroll.

  • Disqualified from accessing WA Cares benefits in your lifetime.

  • Required to present your exemption approval letter to all current and future employers. If you fail to present your ESD approval letter, employers will withhold non-refundable WA Cares premiums.

Note: Exemptions will take effect the quarter after your application is approved

For more information or help in completing your application, visit

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