Tuesday, April 19, 2005


I've been doing a bunch of freelance work lately. I like having a day job, actually, because it keeps my mind off of the business and it also stops me from worrying about making money. Two very good things.

Tomorrow, I start a gig with a new client in West L.A. This is a proofreading job and it'll last a week, at the very minimum, but could go on until August, depending on how I do. It feels sort of like an audition or a screen test, but proofreading is something I think I have a natural gift for. Plus, I had a very good teacher.

On top of that, my unemployment benefits just started up again. I'll get a check for the last couple of weeks I didn't work. Can you believe it? $404 a week! That's outrageous!

Anyway, I'll be glad to be working again and also having a safety net when I'm not working. Some of you are probably wondering how this unemployment thing works. Well, no, I won't be getting a check when I'm getting paid more than the amount of my benefits, per week. But if I only earn $399 gross this week, then I'll get a check for $5.

Does everyone get $404 a week? No way. Your benefits are determined by the three months when you earned your highest tax-paying income. Plus, this quarter must fall from Jan. to March, April to June, July to Sept., or Oct. to Dec. If your highest quarter just ended a couple weeks ago, that won't count toward your benefits. The EDD puts a buffer of three months from when you file for benefits.

The only way to figure this stuff out is to actually file for benefits. I totally screwed myself the first time I filed and ended up getting only $50 a week when I could've pulled in about $300. If you find that your benefits are not advantageous, you can also cancel your filing and return any checks sent to you. I didn't know about that before.

Since I just recently filed for new benefits, it might be advantageous for me to cancel my filing, if I start working again. But I don't care about that. If I start working again, I'm just making myself eligible for next year's benefits, which is a very good thing. And that's the working actor's goal: to make enough in one quarter so that you will keep getting the highest possible weekly benefit. Right now, you should aim to make about $11,000 in one quarter to get the highest. If you anticipate earning a good deal of residuals in a certain month, then it might be a good idea to do some temp work or extra work to bulk up that quarter. Anyway, that's what I would do.

Oh, and by the way, this is not "working the system." This is how working actors survive and thrive. Taxpayers don't pay for unemployment benefits. That's split between you, the employee, and your previous employer. So don't feel guilty about it. You earned it.

Plus, it's very expensive to live here. So every dollar counts. And I wouldn't mind putting some of the extra dough into a few classes of scene or character study. Or continuing with my improv workshops. Or getting back into martial arts training. Perhaps I could even take a weekend writing course. Or buy a new computer. Or pay for online casting services. The possibilities are endless when it comes to places to wisely spend your money.

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