His most visible TV work has been as host on ‘The Apprentice’ and ‘The Celebrity Apprentice.’
Buried in Donald Trump’s financial disclosure form, released Wednesday, is a bit of a surprise: listed among the Donald’s receipts is a $110,228 Screen Actors Guild pension. Though the amount is chump change for Trump, it’s natural to wonder how a billionaire acquired a union pension at all, and why it’s so high. Did someone make a mistake?
Probably not. Although his IMDb record discloses only a smattering of SAG work, if he was paid a sufficiently high fee for what appear to be mostly cameos, it’s quite possible that Trump achieved a pension this high, especially since the disclosure form suggests that he began drawing the pension in July 2011, several years after he turned 65, the pension plan’s normal retirement age. Delaying the receipt of a pension past that age results in a higher pension.
Indeed, Trump is probably entitled to a bump, from the AFTRA side of the house. His most visible TV work has been as host on The Apprentice and The Celebrity Apprentice. Although contestant gigs on reality shows are non-union, the hosting slots are generally covered by AFTRA or, now, SAG-AFTRA. If his hosting duties were covered work, that would entitle him to an AFTRA pension as well, and it too is likely to be in the six figures.
Although the unions merged in 2012, the SAG and AFTRA pension/retirement plans remain separate, so even the recent years of hosting would be considered “AFTRA work” for pension purposes, despite the fact that the union is now SAG-AFTRA.
The disclosure form doesn’t indicate the applicable year, so it’s not clear when Trump received the pension or if the amount has changed over time.
The size of the pensions may surprise working actors, whose average TV and film earnings are around $52,000 (2007 figures, the latest the union will release) and who typically don’t receive such generous pensions when they retire. But stardom has its perks.
It may seem odd that a billionaire would be a pensioner, but pensions, like Social Security, are not means-tested. And pensions are payable starting at age 65 even to people who continue working. All a qualified recipient need do is fill out a form and submit it to the SAG-Producers Pension & Health Plans or the AFTRA Health & Retirement Funds.
It might also seem ironic that a Republican – and thus a presumed anti-unionist – is receiving a union pension, but it’s not actually clear whether Trump is anti-union. On the one hand, in his most recent apparent statement on the subject, a 2011 interview with Fox’s Bill O’Reilly, Trump acknowledges that he uses union labor and says that he “has a great relationship with unions.” On the other hand, he also said in the interview that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker – now also a leading Republican candidate for President – was “maybe right for his state” when he took action to weaken and defeat public sector unions.
The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
Bookmark The Hollywood Reporter’s Labor Page for the most in-depth coverage of entertainment unions and guilds.
Arl: I know the SAG maximum pension is eight thousand a month, As to AFTRA, a little hard to find any info! According to what I managed find on the internet, it can go up to the max of 130 thousand a year! Here’s another light shedding article I found on the internet.:
“Hollywood Pension Disclosure
By Chris Palmeri 6 hours ago
Deep inside the 92 pages of financial disclosures for Donald Trump’s presidential run is a $110,228 pension the real-estate mogul receives from the Screen Actors Guild.
It may seem strange that a billionaire developer who moonlights as a reality-show host would collect a pension. But it’s not so uncommon in Hollywood. Union pensions are a big perk for actors — whose average income is about $48,000 annually, according to Payscale.com. They rarely generate the steady paychecks most workers receive throughout their careers.
Trump starred in the NBC reality series “The Apprentice” starting with its debut in 2004, and its spinoff, “The Celebrity Apprentice,” from 2008. He earned $213.6 million over 11 years, according to a statement from his campaign. The network, owned by Comcast Corp., parted ways with Trump in June, after the Republican candidate’s campaign announcement speech included disparaging comments about Mexican immigrants.
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Trump’s acting credits begin earlier. The 69-year-old New York native made appearances in 19 TV shows and movies, dating back to “The Jeffersons” in 1981, according the research site IMDB.com. He played himself in “Zoolander,” the 2001 Ben Stiller comedy, and in 1992’s “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York.”
It’s not clear whether the $110,000 figure is an annual amount. The reporting period for presidential candidates is the preceding year, plus the current year up to the filing date.
Hope Hicks, a spokeswoman for Trump, declined to comment on his pension, as did the union’s press office.
According to his financial disclosure form, Trump’s pension dates to July 2011, the month after he turned 65.
Guild members earning more than $20,000 a year can begin earning pension credits, according to the union’s website. Beneficiaries earn a minimum of $220 a month and a maximum of $8,000 a month, or $96,000 annually.
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Trump probably worked with the American Federation of Television Artists before its 2012 merger with SAG, according to Jonathan Handel, a labor expert who wrote about the candidate’s pension in the Hollywood Reporter.
Handel speculates Trump’s payments are higher because he’s eligible for benefits from his Aftra work. According to the Aftra Health & Retirement Funds website, the maximum payout is $108,000 a year, subject to adjustments that could make it go higher.
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Well one thing I can confirm for sure about Mr. Trump: The SAG-AFTRA ballots are out and he ain’t running for our union presidency!
The Ol’ SAG Watchdog
*Photo selected by the Watchdog