CHECK COVERED CONTRIBUTIONS (PENSION) If you receive a letter from the Health Plan warning that your coverage is about to expire, the first thing you should do is check to see if your employers have properly reported – and made contributions on – your covered income. Twice a year, the PWGA sends out a pension statement setting forth the details of what you have been paid. In addition, the information is available under the CONTRIBUTIONS HISTORY section of the Participant Toolkit on the right side of the screen. If you discover an inaccuracy, contact the Employer Compliance Department at the PWGA: (818) 846-1015 x603.
CHECK COVERED CONTRIBUTIONS (HEALTH) Approximately 3-months before your earnings cycle ends, the Health Fund will send you a Health Fund Summary of Contributions Statement. Please read this statement carefully as it contains detailed information about your eligibility status such as whether or not you have satisfied the earnings minimum, and if you qualify for the Excess Earnings Extension. The statement lists all of the employer contributions that have been reported during that specific earnings cycle. If you discover an error, the Health Fund Summary of Contributions Statement includes a form to report missing or incorrect earnings.
CHECK EXTENDED COVERAGE For most writers in the entertainment industry, employment is intermittent. Recognizing the difficulties of writers’ employment patterns, in April of 2000, the PWGA announced the inception of the Extended Coverage Program which credited writers with health coverage points for each year of regular, employer-paid eligibility commencing on and after January 1, 1990. Writers are able to accumulate up to a maximum of fifty (50) points. These points can then be used to extend health coverage during periods of unemployment. The Health Plan awards Extended Coverage points as follows:
- One point for each four quarter eligibility cycle ending on or after September 30, 1989 which resulted in Health Fund eligibility.
- One additional point for each four quarter earnings cycle ending on or after September 30, 1989 during which the writer earned at least $100,000* in covered compensation as reported to the Health Fund.
- One additional point awarded for each four quarter earnings cycle ending on or after September 30, 1989 during which the writer earned at least $200,000* or more in covered compensation as reported to the Health Fund.
In simple language, what this means is that a Writer may earn up to three points for each year of employer paid Health Fund coverage earned, beginning January 1, 1990 which can be applied to continue health coverage. The Extended Coverage Program works like this:
If a writer loses eligibility due to failure to earn sufficient compensation within his or her earnings cycle, and has accumulated at least 10 points, the Writer will automatically be placed in the Extended Coverage Program and will be notified by the Plan. Although the writer must have 10 points to be eligible for the Extended Coverage Program, based upon their state of residence, there are up to four different benefit plans available with point values ranging from 2.5 to 1.5 points per quarter.
For each quarter that a participant receives benefits under this program, the applicable number of points will be deducted from their point balance. This process will continue until: 1) the participant regains employer-paid eligibility; or 2) the participant retires under the Producer-Writers Guild of America Pension Plan as a Certified Retiree; or 3) there are an insufficient number of points available for continuation in the program – whichever of these occurs first.
Note: As long as a participant has at least 1.5 points remaining (1 point if on the Low Option Plan), the Fund will subsidize the difference and he or she will be granted one last quarter of coverage in the plan then in effect. If all points are exhausted and eligibility is not regained, the participant and all eligible dependents will be offered COBRA Continuation Coverage.
Extended Coverage Program Point Threshold Chart
|Earnings Minimum for Second Point||Earnings Minimum for Third Point||Earnings Cycle Effective Date||Earnings Cycle Effective Date||Earnings Cycle Effective Date||Earnings Cycle Effective Date||Earnings Cycle Effective Date||Earnings Cycle Effective Date|
Note: Effective July 1, 2014, the covered earnings minimum on which the 2nd and 3rd points are awarded will no longer be increased based on any increase in the MBA minimum.
If you think a mistake has been made and that you may be entitled to Extended Coverage benefits, call the PWGA’s Eligibility Department at: (818) 846-1015 x605.
EXCESS EARNINGS EXTENSION (AKA THE $250K EXTENSION) If you earned at least $250K (or more) in gross covered earnings in one earnings cycle but you do not meet the eligibility minimum in your next personal earnings cycle, the Fund will provide coverage for another year by dividing the $250K (or more) equally between the two consecutive earnings cycles. For individual writers this extension is automatic.
This extension is also available to Bona Fide Two-Person Writing Teams that equally split $250K (or more) in gross covered earnings in one earnings cycle and one or both writers do not meet the eligibility minimum in their next personal earnings cycle. If this is your situation, you should contact the Eligibility Department and ask that a review be done to determine if one or both of you qualify for this extension. If approved, the Fund will provide coverage for one or both you by dividing your equal share of the $250K (or more) between your two consecutive earnings cycles.