The Actors Fund is a nationwide human services organization that helps all professionals in performing arts and entertainment during times of need, crisis or transition. In Southern California, The Fund administers more than a dozen programs addressing concerns of employment, affordable housing, health insurance, mental health, financial wellness and youth development.
The Looking Ahead and Unclaimed Coogan programs are two of these services, but they are unrelated aside from both being under The Actors Fund umbrella.
The Actors Fund was appointed trustee of unclaimed Coogan funds by the State of California in 2003. Banking, administrative and advertising expenses are paid annually by the Screen Actors Guild/Producers’ Industry Advancement Cooperative Fund. Since its founding, the Trust has received tens of thousands of deposits totaling nearly $4 million and distributed more than $1 million to beneficiaries.
If you are or were ever a professional young performer, some of this money might be yours!
How to Find Out if You Have Unclaimed Coogan Funds and Apply
+ 1. Begin at www.unclaimedcoogan.org
- Visit www.unclaimedcoogan.org and click on “Applicants” button on the left side of the screen.
+ 2. Search For Your Name
- Enter any part of your first or last name in the search field below (Try both legal and “aka” or “stage” names). Double check by searching under the last four digits of your Social Security Number in the same field.
- If you find a match, click on the “Beneficiary Application” button on this same page.
+ 3. Download and print
- Download and print the Beneficiary Application.
- If the applicant is a MINOR – The Actors Fund is required to verify identity of applicant by viewing an original Birth Certificate or original Passport, AND a trustee statement from the bank stating the minor’s account is in fact a COOGAN account, along with listing the name of the trustee and the Coogan Account number and deposit information.
- If the applicant is OVER 18, The Actors Fund is required to verify identity by viewing two forms of ID, an original Passport or Birth Certificate, AND another picture ID such as a state-issued Identification card or Driver’s License. A notarized affidavit of identity may take the place of the second photo ID.
+ 4. Submit and get notified
- Applicants may submit their applications along with their identity verifying materials either through the mail (be sure to include a self addressed stamped envelope for the return of your original documents) or in person through an appointment with Ina Williams, The Actors Fund’s staff responsible for Coogan Account administration and disbursements. She can be reached for an appointment at 323.933.9244 ext. 440.
- Once an application is received and approved, The Actors Fund must disburse funds within 15 days to the current Coogan account if the applicant is a minor, or via check sent directly to the applicant if over 18.
For the most direct way to check for funds in the Unclaimed Coogan trust, visit www.unclaimedcoogan.org. For answers to “Frequently Asked Questions,” please visit www.unclaimedcoogan.org. You may also contact Ina Williams, The Actors Fund’s Coogan Administrator, at 323.933.9244 ext. 440, during normal office hours.
Track Your Coogan Money
Q: What is the Coogan Law?
The Coogan Law, 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 blocked trust account 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. Several years after the law was passed, some employers were left holding funds awaiting trust account information from parents/guardians, technically leaving these funds “unclaimed.”
Because of this, SAG and MPAA proposed an amendment to the law, through SB 210, that this was put in place to ensure funds would be transferred to their rightful owners, and to have the money protected until that time. SB 210 designated The Actors Fund as trustee of all unclaimed Coogan funds and also exempts them from the Unclaimed Property Law, meaning the funds will stay in the Actors Fund trust in perpetuity until claimed by the rightful owner, never to be absorbed by the state. You can read the entire law and all amendments here.
Q: Why have my funds become “Unclaimed”?
Q: But I gave the Payroll Department all of my information…
Unfortunately a single communication between employee and production or payroll company might not ensure that your information is or remains accurate. It is very important to not only regularly update your account information with payroll departments but your contact information as well. If your contact information is old or inaccurate, there is no way to alert you that funds are being held for you. Also, it is a good idea to keep records of all jobs. Hold on to any paystubs or documents that contain studio and payroll contact information so that if you do discover that a certain studio or employer doesn’t have your information, you can contact them to update it so that any future residuals or payments will not continue to be sent to The Actors Fund.
Q: Why does the Actors Fund have my Coogan Funds?
Q: How do I claim my funds?
Q: Why do you ask for original documents?
The law requires The Actors Fund to verify the identity of beneficiaries using a certified copy. A certified copy is an original document provided to you by the appropriate local or state government agency with their original seal. The Actors Fund cannot accept any photocopies of documents, and cannot make exceptions. However, we know your original documents are sensitive, so if you are in southern California, we encourage applicants to make an appointment and present your documents in person. An appointment takes only about apporximately five minutes, allowing staff to confirm the information and make a copy for audit purposes. If you need to mail your documentation, please provide a stamped, self- addressed return envelope, and your documents will be dropped back in the mailed back to you within one business day.