With just two weeks to decide whether or not they want to be part of the settlement agreement between the government and the Retirement Fund, no one has yet asked the pension agency to remove their name from the case’s list.
Acting NMI Retirement Fund administrator Lillian Pangelinan disclosed this to Saipan Tribune yesterday, saying that members have until next week to submit their “opt-out” applications.
“So far, we have not received any opt out submissions,” she said.
The deadline to opt out is on or before 5pm on Sept. 20, a Friday.
Records obtained from the Fund indicate that there are a total of 3,160 retirees and beneficiaries on three islands. Of this number, retirees total 2,395; surviving spouses number 591; and surviving children total 174.
The bulk is from Saipan, which has a total of 2,081. Of that number, Pangelinan said that 1,565 are retirees and 396 are surviving spouses who continue to receive benefits from the pension plan. This is in addition to 120 surviving children.
On Rota, beneficiaries total 264, of which 216 are retirees, 37 are surviving spouses, and 11 are surviving children of members. Tinian, meantime, has 192 beneficiaries, of which 148 are retirees, 35 are surviving spouses, and nine are surviving children of members.
Pangelinan said the Fund also distributes benefits to “overseas” beneficiaries totaling 623. Of this number, 466 are retirees, 123 are surviving spouses, and 34 are surviving children of beneficiaries.
Any class member who timely requests for exclusion, or opt out from settlement case, shall not be a member of the settlement class and will not be entitled to any benefits from the settlement fund.
In the event many members choose to opt out from the settlement case, it is predicted that there will be no final settlement and many retirees and beneficiaries will get nothing from the Fund.
The final settlement order is expected to be rendered soon after the Sept. 30 hearing at the federal court.
The main goal of the settlement deal is to ensure that retirees who are in the class will receive at least 75 percent of their benefits in the future and to allow the CNMI to let members of the Fund who are not yet receiving benefits to withdraw from the Fund and retrieve their contributions. The deal will also provide a mechanism for retirees who are class members to enforce their rights under the settlement in federal court.
Meantime, the Inos’ administration welcomed the good news that no has so far opted out from the settlement. Press secretary Angel Demapan credited the series of townhall meetings held by Gov. Eloy Inos as a factor in convincing members to stay with the Fund.
“This is certainly good news as the administration made significant efforts to conduct public outreach to discuss the terms of the settlement agreement. The administration maintains that at this point, the settlement is the best deal for all the parties involved. The terms provide certainty to the members of the class,” Demapan told Saipan Tribune.
He added that the government remains committed to seeking new funding sources and to restoring the reduction once such funds become available.