Writers Guild Pension Plan
One of the benefits of belonging to the Writers Guild is the ability to participate in the Producer-Writers Guild of America Pension Plan. Upon retirement, participants are paid a monthly annuity for the rest of their lives. Payments may continue to a beneficiary in the event of the participant’s death, depending on the option the participant selects at retirement.
Contributions to the plan are made by employers who adhere to the collective bargaining agreements with WGAE and WGAW. These include studios, networks, and production companies. Pension managers invest assets for growth and safety.
Who is eligible to participate in the Producer-Writers Guild of America Pension Plan (“Pension Plan”)?
Any person who is hired to perform covered writing services by a company that is signed to the Writers Guild Minimum Basic Agreement (MBA) may participate in the Pension Plan.
Additionally employees working in certain Guild-covered positions at news stations (e.g. ABC, WWOR, WNYW, WNYC temps at CBS, etc.) may also be eligible to participate, depending on where they work and their employment status.
Why should I participate in the Pension Plan?
The Pension Plan provides Participants with income during retirement as long as they meet the vesting and age requirements. Upon application for retirement under the Pension Plan, eligible Participants are paid a monthly benefit for the rest of their lives (with few exceptions). Contributions are made to the Pension Plan by Employers, so there is no cost to Participants. Employers begin paying into the Pension Plan immediately upon an employee’s performance of covered writing services.
How do I enroll?
There is no need to enroll. An employee automatically becomes a Participant upon working in what is considered a covered writing service.
Who contributes to the Pension Plan?
Many Employers who are party to collective bargaining agreements with the WGAE and WGAW—studios, networks, production companies—are required to contribute to the Pension Plan.
Am I allowed to contribute additional funds into the Pension Plan?
The Pension Plan does not allow for individuals to make contributions on their own behalf. Special rules apply if a writer owns at least 10 percent of the reporting signatory entity and hires himself to write a project. For more information, click here https://www.wgaplans.org/contributions/owner_writers.html.
When will I be vested?
Participants are vested after accruing five Qualified Years of service (not necessarily five consecutive years). Once a Participant is vested, he/she is eligible to receive a retirement benefit after meeting age requirements, even if they stop working as a writer in the entertainment industry. For more information on vesting, including guidelines about Qualified Years and details about Breaks in Service, see the Summary Plan Description.
What happens to my pension funds if I don’t become vested?
Participants who do not become vested are unable to receive retirement benefits. However, Participants who return to work after a Permanent Break in Service may be reinstated into the Pension Plan under certain circumstances. For details about breaks in service, see the Summary Plan Description.
When can I begin collecting my pension?
Vested Participants begin collecting benefits upon retirement under the rules of the Pension Plan. Normal retirement age is 65. Early retirement benefits may begin at 52, at a lower monthly payout. For details about eligibility and how benefits are calculated, see the Summary Plan Description.
Please contact the Pension Benefits Department at least two months prior to your anticipated retirement date. Retirement dates are always the first of the month.
What happens if I decide to return to work after I begin receiving retirement benefits?
If a Participant retires early (prior to age 65), to be considered retired under the Pension Plan, no covered writing services may be performed in the first month of retirement. A retiree will continue to receive a monthly benefit from the Pension Plan during reemployment. A retiree may also be entitled to additional pension benefits. Please notify the Pension Benefits Department within one month after such employment occurs to ensure that benefits will be properly adjusted. For more information about reemployment, see the Summary Plan Description.
How are benefits calculated?
There are a number of payment options, depending on what a Participant selects. For detailed information, see the Summary Plan Description.
Once a Participant selects a payment option, it cannot be changed on or after the Retirement Date. Administrative office staff is available to help calculate retirement benefits under any of the available options so that a Participant can decide which type of payment works best for him/her.
Can I collect my pension in one lump sum?
If the actuarial value of the retirement benefit is $5,000 or less, the benefit may be paid as a lump sum. If the actuarial value of your total payments exceeds $5,000, a lump sum payment is not permitted.
Can I name a beneficiary in the event of my death?
Yes. If a Participant dies before retirement and is survived by a spouse to whom the Participant has been married for at least one year, the surviving spouse will be entitled to a Surviving Spouse Benefit provided the Participant is vested on the date of death.
A same sex domestic partner may be considered a spouse for this purpose, as long as he/she meets the requirements of a Qualified Domestic Partner under the Pension Plan. If you would like to add your same sex domestic partner as a Covered Dependent under the Health Fund or for Pension Plan purposes, please contact the Health Fund Eligibility Department at eligibility@ to request a Same Sex Domestic Partner ("SSDP") packet. You will be required to file an affidavit of domestic partnership which is included in the packet, and submit along with it three of the supporting documents outlined on wgaplans.orgthis page of the plan’s site.
For a full explanation of the Surviving Spouse Benefit, see the Summary Plan Description.
Does the Pension Plan include a death benefit?
Yes. For details, please visit here.
Does the Pension Plan include a terminal illness benefit?
If a Participant is certified by a doctor to be terminally ill with a life expectancy of less than a year, s/he may be eligible to receive a Terminal Illness Benefit. For more details, see the Summary Plan Description.
Who administers the Pension Plan?
The fund is jointly administered by an equal number of Trustees from the Writers Guild of America, East and West, and Trustees from contributing employers in the industry. Professional investment managers invest the assets of the Pension Plan, including the contributions made on your behalf.
Do I have any say in how my pension fund is invested?
The Pension Plan does not provide for individually directed investments.
Will the Pension Plan keep track of contributions made on my behalf?
Yes. Once a year Participants receive a statement reporting how much money has been contributed up to that time. It is recommended that Participants retain copies of all contracts, pay stubs, etc., in the event of a discrepancy. Any errors or discrepancies should be reported to the Employer Compliance Department immediately.
Where can I find detailed information about the Pension Plan and its benefits?
For a full summary of the plan and explanation of benefits, please visit here.
Who can I call to speak to someone knowledgeable about the Pension Plan?
Information about the Producer-Writers Guild of America Pension Plan can be found on their website: www.wgaplans.org or call 1-800-227-7863, 8:30am-5pm (PST).
The Producer-Writers Guild of America Pension Plan is a separate legal entity from the WGAE. It is governed by a Board of Trustees comprised of union representatives from the Writers Guild East, Writers Guild West, and management representatives. For detailed information about the plan, contact:
Producer-Writers Guild of America Pension Plan
1015 North Hollywood Way
Burbank, CA 91505-2526
1-800-227-7863, 8:30am-5pm (PST)