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Breaking Down The Mixed Earner Unemployment Compensation Program
When drafting the latest COVID-19 relief package, Congress had music creators in mind when designing the new Mixed Earner Unemployment Compensation (MEUC) program. Signed into law by the President on December 27, 2020, the MEUC program provides "mixed earners," those with both traditional and freelance income, an additional $100 per week benefit if the worker received W2 wages and at least $5,000 in self-employment (such as 1099) income during the latest taxable year.
The MEUC program is still being implemented across the country, with 50 states and territories soon to make the program accessible to mixed earners in need. Claimants will need to provide documentation in order to qualify for the new benefit, and each participating state and territory will soon offer full guidance to potential recipients.
This enhanced unemployment benefit is in addition to the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program, which was reauthorized as part of the same COVID-19 stimulus package. The FPUC provides $300 per week in additional unemployment benefits for all individuals receiving unemployment assistance until March 14. All told, mixed earners could soon qualify for an additional $400 per week on top of their existing state unemployment benefit amount.
The Recording Academy has long urged policymakers to remedy the diminished unemployment benefit received by mixed earners following the rollout of the CARES Act. With support from the Academy, Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Judy Chu (D-Calif.) and Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Tina Smith (D-Minn.) introduced the Mixed Earner Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Act (H.R.7691/S.4442). The legislation aimed to fix this unintentional problem caused by the CARES Act, and ensure that all workers have equitable access to the maximum possible support in future unemployment benefit programs.
Rep. Schiff recently noted the problems facing mixed earners in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. Schiff said early on in the pandemic he became aware that "those with mixed income were getting a lot less, in some cases not getting anything at all, because their unemployment was based on their W-2 and most of their income was from 1099s." Schiff, whose L.A. district covers many mixed earners employed in the music, film, and arts industries, also pledged to work with "the new administration when there's work on a new package to try to make sure that benefits to mixed-income workers continue."
The Recording Academy will continue to advocate for extended and improved unemployment benefits for music makers in need, and offer guidance to applicants navigating the unemployment system. Please visit MixedIncome.org to learn more about the MEUC and eligibility.