Last July, NWU joined a coalition of 19 groups to lobby Congress for Mixed Earner Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. Under the leadership of SAG-AFTRA, the coalition has grown to 97 organizations. This week, new legislation was introduced updating the HEROES Act and including for the first time, benefits for those who derive their income from a variety of sources, as many of our members do. The new mixed-earner section is a recognition that mixed earners have been unintentionally harmed by the administration of the CARES Act and that Congress must provide a remedy.
At present, unemployed workers whose income derives from a combination of 1099 (contractor) or self-employment income and W2 (employee) wages are excluded from participating in the PUA program—despite Congress’s intentions to assist these workers in the CARES act. This has left roughly a million unemployed workers with unusually low weekly benefits because their full actual income is not being considered to calculate benefits. Furthermore, many mixed earners are now receiving less than $100 a week in benefits, and they are not receiving the FEMA $300 federal supplement provided by executive order.
Title VI of the amended HEROES Act: Additional Benefits for Mixed Earners will help to more fairly compensate unemployed mixed earners, as we wait to return to work. The current proposal will extend $125 in additional weekly benefits to mixed earners who received $5,000 or more in qualifying self-employment income in 2019, as reported on their tax return.
While we are glad to see this mixed earn er legislation, we are not done fighting. As future relief packages are debated, we will be asking for a higher figure and for retroactivity to account for the more than 28 weeks that mixed earners have received unequal pandemic benefits.
Other provisions of the updated HEROES Act include extending the $600 Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation supplement and the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, a second round of $1,200 stimulus checks, and an additional 13 weeks of unemployment benefits for individuals who will have exhausted their benefits before Jan. 31, 2021.