On January 27, 2002, Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed House Bills 1732 and 1733 into law, officially delaying the assessment of WA Cares Fund premiums until July 1, 2023. As a result, WA Cares Fund benefits will not be available until July 1, 2026. These delays give state lawmakers additional time to resolve key issues with the original legislation, such as those highlighted in our earlier blog entry on this topic, available here.
Under this new legislation, Washington employers should not deduct premiums from employee wages before July 1, 2023. If an employer began deducting WA Cares Fund premiums after the start of 2022, such deductions must cease and any amounts previously deducted must be refunded to employees within 120 days of collection.
The new legislation also made significant program modifications, including the following highlights:
- Employees born before January 1, 1968, who do not meet the original vesting requirement but who pay into the WA Cares Fund for at least one year, can receive partial benefits based on the number of years they do pay into the Fund.
- Employees who fall into one of the following new categories can claim an exemption from the WA Cares Fund premium assessment:
- U.S. military veterans rated by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs as having a service-connected disability of 70% or greater;
- Spouses or registered domestic partners of active duty service members in the U.S. Armed Forces, whether or not deployed or stationed within or outside of Washington;
- Employees who hold a nonimmigrant visa for temporary workers recognized by federal law; and
- Employees who are employed by an employer in Washington but who maintain an out-of-state permanent address as their primary residence.
Clients have asked about an extension of the exemption for other qualifying long-term care coverage that was purchased by November 1, 2021 (with exemption applications due by December 31, 2022). The new legislation does not appear to extend those deadlines, recognizing that the Washington Employment Security Department is evaluating appropriate regulatory responses to this newly-enacted WA Cares Fund legislation.