Today, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) released the following statement after House Democrats unveiled an updated version of the Heroes Act, which for the first time provides assistance to “mixed earners” who were previously left out of relief legislation:
“The newly released relief package demonstrates House Democrats commitment to getting the American people and small businesses the help they need.
“I am pleased that as part of this package, we have included a provision to help ‘mixed earners,’ many of them my constituents, who have received significantly reduced unemployment assistance because of a small amount of W-2 income. This bill would provide desperately needed help to millions of families who are still struggling, particularly in combination with the restoration of the $600 weekly payment.
“I will continue to fight for people with mixed sources of income to make sure they aren’t left behind, particularly seeking to make sure assistance is provided retroactively to help those who missed out in thousands in benefits due to the mixed earner loophole.”
The new version of the Heroes Act would provide additional benefits to “mixed earners.” Under section 601, the legislation would provide a federally-funded $125 per week additional benefit to individuals who have at least $5,000 a year in self-employment income, but were disqualified from receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) because they were eligible for regular state unemployment benefits. For individuals who are currently receiving the state minimum benefit, the additional payment would provide a similar total unemployment benefit to the minimum benefit amount for PUA, which is what workers eligible for PUA are currently receiving in all states. This provision would be effective for future unemployment benefits after a state made an agreement with the Department of Labor.
Schiff introduced in July the Mixed Earner Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Act to ensure that workers who earn a mix of traditional (W-2) and independent (e.g. 1099) employment income are able to fully access the unemployment assistance provided in the CARES Act.
The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program created by the CARES Act provides unemployment compensation to independent contractors, freelancers, gig workers, and others not normally protected by state unemployment insurance benefits. However, workers who earn a living through a mix of independent and traditional W-2 jobs are currently excluded from PUA even if they have lost a substantial portion of their income due to coronavirus-related disruption of their independent work. Due to the sporadic and unpredictable nature of independent work, many freelancers and self-employed workers in a wide variety of industries—and especially in music and entertainment—cannot access this crucial relief.
The Mixed Earner Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Act would ensure that mixed earners are able to access the same relief to make up for lost work that the CARES Act provided to those with more straightforward employment arrangements. Specifically, it would allow workers with substantial self-employment income to opt into the PUA program, which will enable mixed earners to receive unemployment benefits calculated based on their total earnings history from both wage and self-employment work.