The American Federation of Musicians and Employers’ Pension Fund (AFM-EPF) has revealed that it won’t reduce musician payouts, as was previously announced, after receiving funds from the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act.
AFM-EPF higher-ups in January formally informed members of the plan to reduce the payouts, noting that they had sent a second application (the first application was denied, as were others submitted well before the pandemic) to the Treasury Department “to reduce benefits under the Multiemployer Pension Reform Act (MPRA)… to prevent the Plan from becoming insolvent.”
Included in “a packet of information about the MPRA application” that the AFM-EPF mailed to members and beneficiaries was a personalized estimate statement, which showed projected benefits in January of 2022 under the reduced plan.
Then, after the House on March 10th agreed to the Senate amendment of the American Rescue Plan Act (but before it was signed into law), the AFM-EPF published another statement, emphasizing that the legislation represented “fantastic news” for members. Specifically, the $1.9 trillion package included the Butch Lewis Emergency Pension Plan Relief Act, which “is intended to pay for all Plan benefits over the next 30 years, without the need for benefit reductions.”
Finally, in a different statement yet, evidently published after AFM-EPF officials reviewed the nearly $2 trillion spending package’s nuances, the entity announced that its trustees had agreed to withdraw the MPRA application – and, in turn, put the proposed musician-payout reduction on ice. Approximately 50,000 of the AFM’s roughly 80,000 members participate in the pension plan.
For any “multiemployer plan which is in endangered or critical status for a plan year beginning in 2020 or 2021,” the Butch Lewis Emergency Pension Plan extends the “improvement period or rehabilitation period” to 15 years and 20 years, respectively. Entities have until December 31, 2025, to apply for assistance through the bill.
And in terms of the 30 years of coverage that the AFM-EPF mentioned, the legislation indicates: “The amount of financial assistance provided to a multiemployer plan eligible for financial assistance under this section shall be such amount required for the plan to pay all benefits due during the period beginning on the date of payment of the special financial assistance payment under this section and ending on the last day of the plan year ending in 2051, with no reduction in a participant’s or beneficiary’s accrued benefit as of such date of enactment.”
Back in October, SAG-AFTRA announced that it had made one million direct-deposit payments to its members since May of 2019. Plus, SAG-AFTRA joined the RIAA, the AFM, and others in supporting California’s “AB5 fix.”