American Federation of Musicians and Employers' Pension Fund

Let's look for a moment at the history and the benefits now available from this
extraordinary retirement program for professional musicians.

A Pension Fund for Musicians

The AFM-EP Fund was created in 1959 by AFM President Herman Kenin who negotiated it as part of a new five year agreement between the AFM and the phonograph record industry. By mid-1960, pension coverage was extended to network radio and television, pamphlet B traveling engagements, and the AFM's jingles contract. In July of 1961, symphony orchestras, arrangers, orchestrators, and copyists became eligible for inclusion in the AFM-EP Fund.

The concept of a pension fund for musicians, most of whom are casually employed for many different employers in the course of a year, a month, or even a week, would have to address the issue of portability. With the AFM-EP Fund, musicians would be able to build individual pension credit from different employers.

All employer contributions are made directly or through the AFM Local to the AFM-EP Fund, which is administered separately from the AFM. The Pension Fund has an independent administrator and a Board of Trustees having equal representation from the AFM and industry.

It's Quicker Than You Think

The vesting period for participation in the AFM-EP Fund is only five years. Being fully vested means that a participant has earned a right to a regular pension that cannot be forfeited. A musician may accrue the five years on a ¼ year, ½ year, ¾ year, or full year basis as follows:

  • 1/4 year credit for $750 in covered earnings;
  • 1/2 year credit for $1,500 in covered earnings;
  • 3/4 year credit for $2,250 in covered earnings;
  • 1 year credit for $3,000 in covered earnings.

Of course, the more work you do under contracts which have pension provisions, the greater the benefit you will receive when you retire. But, these quarter-year vesting provisions are necessary for musicians who may only do one or two shows at the Ordway, for example, making it easier to become vested in the pension plan and to secure a guaranteed pension benefit.

Who To Contact

If you have questions concerning your eligibility for participation in the AFM-EP Fund, please call the office at 646-7829. If you are currently participating in the AFM-EP Fund and you would like to check the status of your account, you should direct your inquiry to:

                                              Maureen Kilkelly
                                              Fund Administrator
                                              AFM-EP Fund
                                              304 East 44th Street
                                              New York, NY 10017

In your letter, state your Local Number, Social Security Number and Birth Date.

The following is a list of Contractors, Leaders, Organizations, Recording Facilities, and Collective Bargaining Agreements contributing AFM-EPFund pension payments on behalf of our members. We also have members who have incorporated and contribute to the fund on their own behalf. As the AFM-EPFund remains an excellent benefit of your Union membership, one of our main objectives as a Local is to expand the list of participating contributors and increase the number of opportunities for members to become vested in this plan.
Contractors, Leaders,
LS-1 Reports
Collective Bargaining
Organizations Recording
Allard Orchestral Services, Inc. Children’s Theatre Company Aurora Brass Quintet Asche & Spencer Music
Robert Anderson Guthrie Theater Dale Warland Singers Echo Boys
Robert Gilbertson Minnesota Opera Company Minneapolis Pops Full Harmonic Media Group
Steve Lund Music Mgt., Inc. Minnesota Orchestra Minnesota Sinfonia Hest & Kramer
Reuben Ristrom Minnesota Timberwolves Music Performance Fund Highbridge Music
Warren Starr Minnesota Twins Old Log Theatre In The Groove Music
Mixed Blood Theatre Twin City Gay Men’s Chorus Menten Music
Park Square Theatre Twin City Jazz Society Minnesota Public Radio
Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra Modern Music
Theater Latte’ Da Paisley Park
Pepe’ Music
Wow & Flutter
Vesting Requirements
Currently the American Federation of Musicians & Employers’ Pension Fund (AFM-EP Fund) requires a five-year vesting period. Participants need to earn $3,000.00 of covered scale wages in a calendar year to receive one-year of vesting. You may also vest in quarter-year increments with earnings of as little as $750.00 in covered scale wages.
Example of Benefit Received
If you earned $5,000.00 in covered earnings a year for 20 years at a 9% pension contribution, $9,000.00 would have been contributed to the pension fund on your behalf. At age 65 (based on the current return rate of $2.00/$100.00 contributed) you would start receiving a monthly check for $180.00. Shortly after turning 69 (at 50 months to be specific) you will have received all your contributions back ($9,000.00). By age 72 you will have received $15,120.00 from the fund. That amount represents not only all of your pension contributions, but you will have also received more money than you paid in annual and work union dues (on those covered earnings) over that 20 year period (based on $160.00/year 2009 annual dues and 2 ? % work dues on $5,000.00/year for 20 years ($2,500.00), a total of $5,700.00). Again, beyond age 72 you will have recouped all of the money contributed to the pension, all of your annual union dues, and all of the work dues paid on those earnings. Every year beyond 72 is essentially “free” money. Live long and prosper.
Another View
Had you put that same $450.00 a year in another type of savings/investment account for 20 years you would have accumulated the same $9,000.00. If your investment was fortunate enough to grow to $36,000.00 over 20 years, and you were able to find a safe investment vehicle that yielded a sustained 6% annual interest at your retirement, you would receive a similar monthly interest/benefit check ($180.00/month in this case). This is an unlikely scenario for most people given recent history – particularly people more interested in making music than tracking investments. The point being, your $9,000.00 in the AFM EP Fund will work as hard for you as $36,000.00 in the bank at 6% interest!
How Can I Get “Covered” Earnings?
Working under a Local 30-73 or an AFM Collective Bargaining Agreement is the primary way to receive “covered” earnings and pension contributions. Unfortunately, many musicians may seldom, or never, work under a Collective Bargaining Agreement. Fortunately, there are other avenues now available to musicians to make their “gig” a Union “gig” with “covered” earnings. A musician may start his/her own corporation and contribute to the Fund on their own behalf through their corporation. This method may appear cumbersome to some due to paperwork requirements and tax implications; but several of our members are currently using this vehicle to contribute to the Fund. The Fund just recently began accepting contributions from Limited Liability Companies (LLC). An LLC is significantly easier (and less expensive) for an individual musician (or group) to start and maintain. For more information on how to establish your own LLC call the Local 30-73 office 612-338-5013. Finally, any group or solo musician may use an AFM LS-1 Contract for their engagements. This is an easy to use single engagement Collective Bargaining Agreement that allows pension contributions to be made by the leader on behalf of the musicians including him/herself.

Twin Cities Musicians Union
American Federation of Musicians Local 30-73
©2009 - Twin Cities Musicians Union & Lonnie Knight Productions