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Covered Earnings Minimum

The accumulated covered earningsIncome for writing services covered by a collective bargaining agreement that employers report to the Fund. you need to earn and have reported by your employers in order to qualify for eligibility are equal to the Writers Guild of America minimum for a one-hour network prime-time story and teleplay. These earnings must be earned and reported during no more than four consecutive calendar quarters and, for eligibility purposes, will apply to the period in which the writing services are performed. (See "When Coverage Begins" on page 27.)) The covered earnings minimum will increase with any subsequent increase in the minimum as stipulated in your MBA. (See the Summary Of Benefits section on page 7 for the current covered earnings minimum.)

Earnings Qualifying For Employer Contributions And Eligibility

The following types of earnings qualify for employer contributionsContributions employers pay to the Fund that are based on a percentage of a participant’s covered earnings. and eligibility:

  • Reportable compensation received when you are employed to perform
    writing services covered under Article 17 pdf of the MBA;
  • Purchases made from a "Professional Writer" (Article 1.B.1.b. of the MBA) if the Writer is also hired to perform writing services (rewrite, polish, etc.) on the same project; and
  • Residual compensation, up to applicable ceilings, as specified in Article 17 of the MBA.


Important!

Earnings are allocated to the quarter in which they
were earned, not when they're paid by your
employer. If you do not perform services but are
paid compensation, the earnings will usually be
allocated to the pay date. (Some situation-specific
exceptions apply.)


Earnings Not Qualifying For Employer Contributions And Eligibility

The following types of earnings (including but not limited to) do not qualify for employer contributions or eligibility:

  • Compensation received where no employer/employee relationship existed or compensation received in excess of any applicable ceilings, as described in Article 17 pdf of the MBA.
Married Writing Team Waiver

The Writers Guild of America (WGA) will consider waivers to allow an unequal earnings allocation, such as 70/30 or 80/20, in circumstances where a married writing team, or a team comprised of Same-Sex Domestic Partners, would not earn Health Fund coverage if their earnings were allocated 50/50. This waiver must be requested from the Guild prior to employment. Please contact the WGA for more information.

Important!

Examples of non-covered earnings include, but are not limited to:

Excerpt Payments, Options, Late Fees, Expenses, Theatrical Residuals, Separated Rights, Publication Fees, Trainee Salary, Character Payments


10% Owner Reporting Requirements

In order to curtail practices which appear to circumvent the intent of the Trust Agreement and create a drain on the assets of the Trusts, on January 1, 2001, the Board of Trustees adopted the following revised rules of the Trust governing eligibility for benefits thereunder:

  • Contributions on the Writer's compensation do not count toward the
    Writer's eligibility for benefits when the Writer directly or indirectly owns ten percent (10%) or more of the equity of the contributing employer*, or where a contributing employer is a non-profit entity as defined under the Internal Revenue Code (IRS Code), for which a Writer is an officer, board member, director (or serves in another similar capacity of such nonprofit), and the employer hires the Writer to perform only writing services unless an unrelated third party directly utilized and paid for the Writer's services. In no event shall contributions be due on amounts in excess of the amounts paid by the third party to the contributing employer for covered services.
  • Contributions on the Writer's compensation do not count toward the
    Writer's eligibility for benefits when the Writer directly or indirectly owns ten percent (10%) or more of the equity of the contributing employer*, and the Writer performs writing and other services (other than under Article 14 pdf of the Basic Agreement). Contributions do not count toward eligibility under this provision even if the contributing employer is hired by an unrelated third party.

Notwithstanding the above, contributions will count toward eligibility for benefits if the contract with the unrelated third party specifically states the amount allocated for such Writer's covered writing services. In this case, contributions shall be due on the greater of the amount so specified or the Basic Agreement's minimum for such writing services.

In addition, if the contract with the unrelated third party does not specifically state the amount allocated for such Writer's covered writing services, contributions will count toward eligibility for benefits when contributions are based on the lower of one of the following:

  • Five percent (5%) of the total compensation the contributing employer received from the unrelated third party for producing non-dramatic programming** or ten percent (10%) of the total compensation the contributing employer received from the unrelated third party for producing dramatic programming; or
  • At least $125,000***

In either case (a) or (b), the employer must contribute on at least the collective bargaining agreement's minimum for writing services.

In order for the Administrative Office of the Trusts to determine if contributions can be accepted, additional documentation, including but not limited to the following items, may need to be submitted for review:

  • Proof of unrelated outside financing (check copies/wire transfer/bank statements);
  • License agreement between signatory and Writer (license agreement should contain an allocation for the writing services, if not, see (a) and (b) above);
  • Budget (with allocation for writing services and contributions);
  • Evidence of payment to the Writer (copy of canceled check, wire transfer or bank statement); or
  • Scripts and other literary material.

* The term "indirectly owns…the equity of the contributing employer," includes (a) equity ownership by the Writer's spouse (opposite or same-sex), the Writer's (or spouse's) parent, sibling or lineal descendant, or (b) funding of the employer by the Writer or the Writer's spouse, the Writer's (or spouse's) parent, sibling or lineal descendant.

** For this purpose, "non-dramatic programming" includes all types of programming other than those that are specifically dramatic in nature (e.g., comedy-variety, documentary, quiz and audience participation).

*** The Fund's actuary estimated that contributions on reportable earnings in the amount of $125,000 were the amount necessary in 2001 to pay the cost of the annual Health Fund coverage for an eligible active participant. Periodically, this figure will be adjusted to approximate the annual cost to the Health Fund for coverage.

Note – the compensation amount in 2010 was $142,506.


New Media - 100% Self-Funded Owner/Writer
  • If the Owner/Writer does not receive any outside financing and is fully self-funded, contributions on the Owner/Writer's compensation will count towards the Owner/Writer's eligibility for benefits when there is a legitimate project produced and distributed. Contributions are payable upon first receipt of revenues**** and are deemed earned and due at that time. The writing fee reportable amount would be 10% for Dramatic programming or 5% for Non-Dramatic programming based on the actual production budget.

****Revenues are fees received from an unrelated third party for availability or exhibition of the project, i.e., program(s) or series, on New Media, including but not limited to, the internet and mobile devices (such as cell phones and PDA's).

Note: If the New Media Owner/Writer's project is not 100% self-funded, the "10% Owner Reporting Requirements" and "Other Reporting Requirements" provided herein will apply.

Other Reporting Requirements
  • Contributions on the Writer's compensation do not count toward the Writer's eligibility for benefits when the Writer is employed for writing and other services (other than under Article 14 of the Basic Agreement) and the Writer's contract does not separate writing compensation from compensation for other services unless the employer contributes on the lower of:
    • One hundred percent (100%) of the Writers' total compensation under the contract; or
    • $125,000*

* The Fund's actuary estimated that contributions on reportable earnings in the amount of $125,000 was the amount necessary in 2001 to pay the cost of the annual Health Fund coverage for an eligible active participant. Periodically, this figure will be adjusted to approximate the annual cost to the Health Fund of coverage. Note: the compensation amount in 2010 was $142,506.

If a project is strictly development, earnings may not be reportable. New projects that are created without a license agreement and/or budget may not be reportable. Proof of unrelated third party financing does not guarantee acceptance of the contributions.