Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP) said that CNMI retirees now receiving a 25-percent cut in their pension as a result of the global settlement agreement in Johnson v Inos may be eligible for a recalculation of their social security benefits, if they are also receiving such benefits.
Pension checks issued on Oct. 15 already reflected the 25-percent cut, prompting some retirees to ask whether they could receive more Social Security benefits.
Sablan helped answer the question.
“This is because these retirees may have been subject to the Windfall Elimination Provision when their social security benefit was first calculated,” he said.
The Windfall Elimination Provision lowers the social security benefit of persons who are also receiving a pension from an employer, such as the CNMI government, that did not withhold social security taxes.
“The Social Security Administration handles questions of this nature on a case-by-case basis. NMIRF pensioners, receiving social security, may want to contact their local SSA office to see if they are eligible for a recalculation of benefits,” Sablan said.
Meanwhile, retirees who opted out of the settlement class no longer received pension on Oct. 15.
One of them, 56-year-old Jesus Taisague, is now suing Gov. Eloy S. Inos, the CNMI government, and the NMI Retirement Fund.
In a statement on Friday responding to the lawsuit, the governor and Lt. Gov. Jude U. Hofschneider said, “Within the United States judicial system, it is every individual’s right to file a lawsuit if they believe they have been wronged.”
“We respect that right, but reserve further comment until after our legal counsels have had the opportunity to report back about the exact nature of Mr. Taisague’s lawsuit,” they said.