Families First and CARES Acts

Expanded Unemployment Benefits

Families First & CARES Act Expanded Unemployment Benefits

After weeks of aggressive lobbying at both the state and federal levels, IATSE and other entertainment unions and guilds have successfully petitioned Congress to pass the "CARES" act for entertainment industry workers as part of the new FAMILIES FIRST economic stimulus package, which was officially signed into law on March 27, 2020.

Both bills provide our members, including freelancers, part time workers, and independent contractors with an additional path to maintaining a steady income while our industry remains suspended.

Please review this comprehensive breakdown of the unemployment benefits that may be available to you through the FAMILIES FIRST and CARES ACT.

Families First Act

Families First applies to workers who are currently eligible for state Unemployment Insurance and provides the following benefits:

Expanded unemployment insurance

Members who have lost work due to the virus are eligible to collect expanded Unemployment Insurance (UI). UI is now expanded to provide participants with an extra $600 per week for four months, and also allow them to remain on unemployment for 13-weeks longer. Participants can now collect UI for 39 weeks total.

Direct, one-time payments to individuals and families

Individuals earning up to $75,000 annually will receive a check for $1,200. The check value will decrease respectively as an individual's income exceeds $75,000, up to the limit of $99,000. Folks who earn more than $99,000 are ineligible. Similarly, married couples who earn up to $150,000 will receive $2,400, plus $500 per each dependent 16 years of age or younger. If you haven't filed your taxes in recent years, it could affect your ability to receive this payment.



Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security

Through the creation of the PANDEMIC UNEMPLOYMENT ASSISTANCE (PUA) program, The CARES Act provides emergency unemployment assistance to workers who traditionally are NOT eligible and for regular state Unemployment Insurance or who have exhausted their state UI benefits. Workers who are eligible for state UI are not eligible for the CARES Act PUA program.

Those eligible for PUA include:

  • Self-employed workers, including independent contractors
  • Freelancers & workers seeking part-time work
  • Workers who do not have a long-enough work history to qualify for state UI benefits

Those who are eligible under PUA can receive the same benefits as those provided in the Families First Act (expanded UI benefits and one-time payment).

If you receive BOTH W-2 and 1099 income, then you should file a claim for state UI FIRST to determine if you are eligible for the state UI benefit.

CLICK HERE for a simple but helpful graphic explaining the process.

The weekly PUA and UI benefit will be administered and paid by the State's UI programs.

PLEASE BE AWARE that State's UI programs are not yet prepared to receive PUA claims. The following statement was issued by MA today (3-31-20):

The Department of Unemployment Assistance is awaiting federal guidance regarding the CARES Act's application requirements, business rules, eligibility requirements, exceptions, and technical requirements. Until that guidance is issued, benefits under the CARES Act are not yet available in Massachusetts and claimants may not apply for such benefits through UI Online at this time. Updates about when CARES Act benefits will be available, and about when and how you should apply for those benefits will be posted at mass.gov/unemployment/covid-19 as soon as they are available.

Thanks to everyone who helped in the lobbying efforts to get the Families First package and CARES Act passed and enacted. Together we have fought and won for our members important benefits during this time of great stress, and uncertainty for all.

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IATSE Local 481
10 Tower Office Park Suite 218
Woburn, MA 01801

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