Only a few members of the pension program chose to opt out of the settlement agreement between the government and the Retirement Fund, based on NMI Retirement Fund records.
Last Friday was the deadline for all retirees and active members of the defined benefit plan to opt out, if they wish to, from the settlement agreement, which is expected to be approved by the end of this month.
Based on Fund records, only 16 members chose to remove themselves from the agreement: 13 retirees and three active members.
Their removal from the settlement is expected to reduce the investment fund by $383,708: $272,425 from the pension of 13 retirees and $111,283 employee contributions plus interest from the three active members.
On Saipan, seven retirees opted out from the case.
All three active members who opted out from the case are from Saipan. They are employees of the Department of Correction, Division of Environmental Quality, and a member of the Legislature. Of these three, the member of the Legislature was the last to opt out, doing so on the day of the deadline last Friday; the first two filed their opt out requests in April and July, respectively. Another lawmaker who also opted out was classified as a retiree.
On Rota, five retirees opted out from the case.
Fund records show that there were no retiree or active member from Tinian who opted out, while one CNMI retiree now located in Guam opted out.
Both the government and the NMI Retirement Fund earlier said that those retirees and active members who will opt out of the settlement class are not entitled to claim any benefits from the settlement fund. It was also said that there is no guarantee for retirees who opt out that they would receive at least 75 percent of their pensions.
Because only a small portion of class members opted out from the settlement, it is anticipated by many that the final settlement agreement between parties will be approved during the Sept. 30 hearing at the federal court.
Fund records 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 on Saipan, which has a total of 2,081. 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.
Due to the refund laws that were signed last year, active members of the Fund were permitted to withdraw their contributions. Last month over 1,600 refund checks were issued by the pension agency.