Some 19,000 current and former child actors have money coming to them, including more than 500 who are each owed over $1,000, and another 42 who are each owed more than $5,000. Some are owed much more. The most the fund has ever paid out to a single performer in unclaimed monies was $32,000, but many of the accounts are much, much smaller: one payout amounted to 6 cents. Just recently, however, the fund paid out $27,754 to four performers, and has contacted four others who are collectively owed over $32,000.
Some of the famous names still owed money – the fund won’t say how much – include Justin Bieber, Abigail Breslin, Saoirse Ronan, Shia LaBeouf, Taylor Lautner, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, Demi Lovato, Sarah Hyland, and Nicolas Cage (under his birth name Nicolas Coppola).
The money has been accumulating at the fund for years in unclaimed “Coogan Accounts” that was held out of child actors’ paychecks and residuals that was supposed to be handed over to them when they turn 18. If employers and payroll companies can’t locate the young actors or their parents, the state’s Coogan Law requires that the money be transferred to the Actors Fund, where it can sit for years waiting to be claimed.
The Actors Fund tries to locate as many of them as it can, but it’s a daunting task as thousands more names are added to the rolls each year. SAG-AFTRA tries to help too, sending out periodic email blasts to its members urging them to check the Actors Funds’ database to see if they or anyone they know is owed money. The list of current and former child actors owed more than $5,000 has been cut by more than half in recent years – down from 91 five years ago.
Last week, ATA executive director Karen Stuart sent out a blast to Hollywood’s talent agents. “The Actors Fund estimates that over 19,000 former/current young performers have accumulated deposits in the Unclaimed Coogan Trust,” she wrote. “About 580 out of the 19,000 have funds between $1000 and $5000. The link below can help you and your clients determine if money is unclaimed. The link also explains how your client can determine the amount of their unclaimed money and the procedure to follow to claim the money.”
The ATA also teamed recently with SAG-AFTRA to make it easier for agents to help clients collect unclaimed SAG residuals. The union is holding nearly $50 million in unclaimed SAG residuals for more than 100,000 performers it can’t locate.