Now is the right time to become an American Federation of Musicians member. From ragtime to rap, from the early phonograph to today's digital recordings, the AFM has been there for its members. And now there are more benefits available to AFM members than ever before, including a multi-million dollar pension fund, excellent contract protection, instrument and travelers insurance, work referral programs and access to licensed booking agents to keep you working.

As an AFM member, you are part of a membership of more than 80,000 musicians. Experience has proven that collective activity on behalf of individuals with similar interests is the most effective way to achieve a goal. The AFM can negotiate agreements and administer contracts, procure valuable benefits and achieve legislative goals. A single musician has no such power.

The AFM has a proud history of managing change rather than being victimized by it. We find strength in adversity, and when the going gets tough, we get creative - all on your behalf.

Like the industry, the AFM is also changing and evolving, and its policies and programs will move in new directions dictated by its members. As a member, you will determine these directions through your interest and involvement. Your membership card will be your key to participation in governing your union, keeping it responsive to your needs and enabling it to serve you better. To become a member now, visit


Home » Officer Columns » Secretary-Treasurer » Resources for Union Members Experiencing Financial Stress During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Resources for Union Members Experiencing Financial Stress During the COVID-19 Pandemic

  -  AFM International Secretary-Treasurer

As the already lengthy pandemic continues, we are seeing governmental support come to an end, putting increased financial stress on musicians who are out of work. The Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO has put together a resource list that may be helpful to you based on your individual situation.

Health Insurance (Medicaid) and ACA Health Insurance Subsidies

Medicaid is the federal- and state-funded program to provide health insurance for low-income Americans. Eligibility requirements vary by states, and are typically based on income, assets, age, and household size. If you do not qualify for Medicaid, you may qualify for subsidies through the health insurance exchange. It is important to note that income thresholds include non-wage income such as unemployment compensation and retirement account distributions.

Visit ( to find more information about state eligibility requirements and how to apply.

If you have children but do not qualify for Medicaid, they may qualify for CHIP. Visit ( to check.

Rent Assistance

Many states and municipalities are funding rental assistance programs to support those impacted by the pandemic. You can use the online map at ( to find one in your community.

Food Assistance (SNAP)

The supplemental nutrition assistance program (SNAP—formerly known as food stamps) provides financial support for low-income individuals and families to purchase groceries. Eligibility requirements are similar to Medicaid, however, the size of the benefit can vary.

You can find more information about eligibility for SNAP and applying in your state at (

Local Food Banks

Unlike SNAP and other programs, many food banks do not have strict eligibility requirements and will give assistance to any individual or family who has a need. Visit ( to find a food bank near you.

Additionally, many social service organizations and religious groups are currently operating temporary food assistance programs.

Assistance with Utility Bills

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) provides assistance to eligible individuals and families with heating and cooling costs. This program is administered on a state level. Visit ( to find contact information for your state’s program.

In addition, many utility companies operate their own internal assistance programs.

Pharmaceutical Assistance Programs

Some states offer programs designed to assist low-income individuals with the costs of pharmaceutical drugs. Some of these programs are limited to seniors, while others are open to beneficiaries of any age. Visit ( to see if your state has
a program.

Other Assistance

In addition to the resources listed above, don’t forget about the Actors Fund. If you work in the performing arts, the Actors Fund should not be overlooked. Visit ( for information.

Another resource is the Musicians Foundation that was featured in the International Musician (August 2018 issue, Secretary-Treasurer column, page 5). Visit their website at for more information.

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