Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What is the Coogan Law?
2.  When and How Will The Actors Fund Receive Unclaimed Funds?
3. How will The Actors Fund Identify Me and My Earnings?
4.  How will I know that my earnings were sent to The Actors Fund?
5.  If I Didn’t See the Notification from My Employer, How Else Can I Find Out If The Actors Fund is Holding Any of My Earnings?
6.  If My Name is Listed on the Website, How Do I Claim My Money and How Long Will It Take?
7.  What supporting documentation is required for an application?
8.  What is a Certified Birth Certificate?
9.  How Can I Get a Certified Copy of My Passport?  (My Notary Will Not Do This.) 10.  What is a Trustee Statement?
11.  How Long Do I Have to Claim my Coogan Funds?
12.  How Do I Stop Future Coogan Earnings From Going to the Actors Fund Unclaimed Trust?
13.  I already gave my employer the Coogan information when I signed up to work.  Why are my earnings still going to The Actors Fund?
14.  Aside from the Initial Notification from the Employer, How Are People Being Notified About This Program?
15.  What if the Beneficiary is an Emancipated Minor or is over 18?
16.  What if the Beneficiary is Deceased?
17. Will Interest be Paid on Unclaimed Coogan Money?
18.  What is “Imputed Interest?”

1. What is the Coogan Law?
For the purposes of this website, the Coogan Law actually refers to two pieces of legislation that affect the earnings of young performers in California.

The first, SB 1162, became law on January 1, 2000. This law requires that 15% of the earnings of an unemancipated minor rendering artistic or creative services in California be transferred to a set-aside trust. This has become known as a Coogan Account and it is meant to protect a portion of a young performer’s earnings for his or her future.

A year after the law was passed, employers were still holding some set-aside funds, awaiting trust information from parents/guardians. Both SAG and the MPAA wanted to find a way to ensure these funds were transferred to their rightful owners, and to have the money protected until that time.

SAG and the MPAA asked The Actors Fund if it would accept the role of custodian of unclaimed funds. This role would include becoming the trustee of these funds; transferring funds to Coogan Accounts after receiving proper documentation; paying funds to beneficiaries who reach the age of maturity or became emancipated; and paying funds to the estates of beneficiaries. The Actors Fund agreed to partner in this endeavor, and all three parties worked with Senator John Burton's office and the California legislature to craft SB 210.

The second piece of Coogan legislation, California SB 210, was introduced by Senator John Burton on April 21, 2003, and signed by Governor Gray Davis on October 3, 2003.  SB 210 amends Sections 6750, 6752, and 6753 of California's Family Code and adds Section 1308.9 to California's Labor Code.

This law does four specific things:

  • Defines a minor's gross earnings as it relates to the establishment of a minor's set aside trust, i.e. Coogan Trust Account;
  • Requires employers to forward funds set aside for the minor to The Actors Fund if the employer or guardian fails to provide proper documents for such accounts;
  • Specifies the rights and duties of The Actors Fund:
    • The Actors Fund is named as custodian (trustee) of unclaimed Coogan funds;
    •  The Actors Fund is assigned the right to collect management, administrative and investment expenses;
    • The Actors Fund is provided exemption from the Unclaimed Property Law with respect to unclaimed Coogan funds;
    • The Actors Fund is assigned the responsibility for the disbursement of unclaimed funds to a minor beneficiary, a beneficiary who has reached the age of 18, or the estate of a deceased beneficiary.
  • Requires proof of the establishment of a Coogan Trust account for the issuance of certain work permits. back to top

2.  When and How Will The Actors Fund Receive Unclaimed Funds?
According to the Coogan Law, employers are required to forward unclaimed funds and identifying information to The Actors Fund within 180 days after commencement of employment if the parent/guardian has failed to provide a "true and accurate photocopy of the trustee's statement" to the employer within that required time. Employers deposit the funds into a designated lock-box account at The Actors Fund as discussed in the employer section of this website.  back to top

3. How will The Actors Fund Identify Me and My Earnings?
SB 210 requires that when the funds are transferred from the employer to The Actors Fund, the employer include the name of the young performer, and if known, the young performer's Social Security number, birth date, last known address, telephone number, e-mail address, dates of employment, and title of the project on which the minor was employed. back to top

4.  How will I know that my earnings were sent to The Actors Fund?
The employer is required to notify the parent, guardian or trustee of the young performer of the transfer by certified mail to the last known address. back to top

5.  If I Didn’t See the Notification from My Employer, How Else Can I Find Out If The Actors Fund is Holding Any of My Earnings?
The Applicants page of this website has a list of the names of all individuals for whom The Actors Fund is the custodian/trustee of unclaimed funds. That section also has both instructions and an application for claiming your funds. back to top

6.  If My Name is Listed on the Website, How Do I Claim My Money and How Long Will It Take?
The application form can be downloaded from this website, and can be found under the Applicants page. Be sure to follow the instructions and include all required supporting documentation, because incomplete applications will result in delays in processing.

The Actors Fund will review your application and contact you with any questions. The Actors Fund has 15 business days after obtaining an accurately completed application to transfer funds to the Coogan Account, or the beneficiary if you are over 18 or an emancipated minor. back to top

7.  What supporting documentation is required for an application?
Along with the completed application, you must include the following documentation depending on your circumstances:

Parent/Guardian or Trustee(s) of Minor Beneficiaries (Funds to be transferred to “Coogan Trust Account”)

AND ONE OF THE FOLLOWING

  • certified copy of the beneficiary’s birth certificate

     OR

Beneficiaries who have attained 18 years of age

AND ONE OF THE FOLLOWING

  • certified copy of the beneficiary’s birth certificate

      OR

Beneficiaries who have been emancipated

  • copy of legal proof of emancipation
  • proof of beneficiary’s identity (please download and complete the Affidavit of Proof of Identity and have it notarized)

Claimants on behalf of Deceased Beneficiary

  • certified copy of the death certificate of the beneficiary

    AND

  • appropriate documentation of the claimant’s authority to collect funds on behalf of the deceased beneficiary

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8.  What is a Certified Birth Certificate?
A certified birth certificate is an original document provided to you by the appropriate local or state government agency.  The format varies state by state.

The Actors Fund cannot accept a photocopy.  However, if you would like your certified birth certificate returned to you after we have processed your application, please include a self-addressed, prepaid US Postal Service Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelope.If you live in Los Angeles and would like to submit your birth certificate in person so the staff can scan and return it to you immediately, please call 323.933.9244, extension 440, to make an appointment. back to top

9.  How Can I Get a Certified Copy of My Passport?  (My Notary Will Not Do This.)
A notary cannot certify government identifications like a passport.  However, go to the following link (http://www.travel.state.gov/passport/npic/npic_872.html) for information on how to obtain a certified passport record from the US Dept of State.  Note that there is a fee for this service. back to top

10.  What is a Trustee Statement?
A trustee statement is a document provided by the bank or credit union where you have established your Coogan Account.  It is the initial documentation that the Parent or Guardian has established a qualifying, locked trust in the child’s name that is protected from withdrawals until the child turns 18.  A trustee statement is not a monthly bank statement.

To see examples of trustee statements, please click here.
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11.  How Long Do I Have to Claim my Coogan Funds?
Once your earnings have been deposited in The Actors Fund’s Unclaimed Coogan Trust, they are protected and there is no time limit for applying to reclaim them. back to top

12.  How Do I Stop Future Coogan Earnings From Going to the Actors Fund Unclaimed Trust?
The best way to make sure your earnings all go to the correct place is to provide complete, accurate information to each employer and payroll company, and maintain an easily accessible list of these as you secure work so that you can update the entire list whenever you make changes. 

Coogan account information should be provided to employers upon securing employment and we recommend that you confirm its receipt and accuracy with both the employer, and payroll company if relevant, a month after providing it.

Remember that employers can only hold Coogan earnings for 180 days from the start of employment, so you have limited time to ensure the receipt and input of correct, complete information. back to top

13.  I already gave my employer the Coogan information when I signed up to work.  Why are my earnings still going to The Actors Fund?
The requirement on the employee (parent/guardian of the young performer) is to provide Coogan Account information within 10 days of the start of employment.  But there is also a requirement on the employer to notify you once they receive that information, kind of like a receipt but through the mail. 

If you don’t receive this notice you should ASSUME that your Coogan Account information has not been established within the payroll system, and call your employer to correct the situation.  Otherwise this could result in more of your earnings being sent to The Actors Fund’s Unclaimed Coogan Trust. back to top

14.  Aside from the Initial Notification from the Employer, How Are People Being Notified About This Program?
The Actors Fund Unclaimed Coogan Trust provides a ‘Grantor Tax Information Letter’ to each beneficiary annually.  This notification is made to each beneficiary’s last known address.

In addition, The Actors Fund notifies beneficiaries within 60 days after the beneficiary has attained 18 years of age.  This notification is made to the beneficiary’s last known address.

Please note that The Actors Fund’s ability to deliver notices is dependent upon the accuracy and completeness of information provided by employers, so potential beneficiaries should check this website even if they have not received a written notice from The Actors Fund.

Also, The Actors Fund provides advertising and promotional items that are distributed at key events.  SAG-AFTRA and its Young Performer's Committee are also provided with information and updates, and SAG-AFTRA publications frequently include links to the website.  Advertising funding is provided by the SAG/Producers IACF. back to top

15.  What if the Beneficiary is an Emancipated Minor or is over 18?
The Actors Fund will notify (by mail to last known address) each beneficiary within 60 days of the date that the records indicate that the beneficiary has attained 18 years of age, or the date that The Actors Fund receives notice that the minor has been emancipated.

Please note that The Actors Fund’s ability to deliver notices is dependent upon the accuracy and completeness of information provided by employers, so potential beneficiaries should check this website even if they have not received a written notice from The Actors Fund.

Beneficiaries who are over 18 will be required to provide (1) proof of identity and (2) a certified copy of a birth certificate or passport. If the beneficiary is an emancipated minor, proof of identity and proof of emancipation is required. back to top

16.  What if the Beneficiary is Deceased?
After receiving appropriate documentation evidencing the death of the beneficiary (i.e. a certified death certificate) and the claimant's authority to collect the funds (i.e. probate court order) funds will be disbursed to the estate of the beneficiary. back to top

17. Will Interest be Paid on Unclaimed Coogan Money?
Yes. The amount paid will equal the principal plus “imputed” interest for the entire period during which The Actors Fund is the trustee of the money. back to top

18.  What is “Imputed Interest?”

Per SB 210, Imputed Interest is calculated at a rate equal to the lesser of the federal reserve rate in effect on the last business day of the prior calendar quarter or the national average money market rate as published in the New York Times on the last Sunday of the prior calendar quarter, adjusted quarterly. back to top