The NMI Retirement Fund released yesterday over $40 million in defined benefit plan contributions and said that applicants can get their checks starting today, Wednesday.
This developed as the CNMI government, through assistant attorney general Reena J. Patel, submitted in the U.S. District Court for the NMI Monday a statement of compliance with Betty Johnson’s class action settlement agreement.
Patel told the court that the required legislative action has been taken and final disbursements under the settlement agreement shall be made accordingly.
The Fund said that, with the requirements of the Betty Johnson class action settlement agreement having been met, it uploaded direct deposit payments yesterday.
Applicants can expect their employee contribution withdrawals to be credited to their bank accounts within 24-48 hours after upload.
The Fund also plans to distribute checks to all applicants beginning today, Wednesday, on Saipan, Tinian, and Rota from 8am to 5pm.
Applicants can pick up their checks at the Fund building on Saipan, the Rota Mayor’s Office on Rota, and the Tinian Mayor’s Office on Tinian.
Fund in-house legal counsel Viola Alepuyo said there are a total of 1,710 recipients: 1,372 on Saipan, 141 on Tinian, and 197 on Rota.
Alepuyo said 708 are checks and the rests are ACH (automated clearing house).
She said Fund administrator Lillian Pangelinan had stated that the plan was to disburse after Nov. 1 but because of the hard work and dedication of the Fund’s staff, distribution is earlier than scheduled.
“The staff, under the leadership of Rima Yamagishi, the Fund deputy administrator, deserve to be praised for working tirelessly and without complaint,” Alepuyo said.
The Fund reminded Public Laws 17-82 and 18-02 applicants that if they have not submitted their waivers, the Fund will not process their disbursement. “Anyone who needs to, please visit the Fund and execute a waiver,” the Fund said.
Public Law 17-82 allows Fund members to withdraw the full amount of their contributions without separating from the government. Public Law 18-02 compels the Fund to release up to 50 percent of members’ contributions within 30 days of submitting a refund application.
The disbursement came after the Legislature passed Friday a House Joint Resolution 18-11, HD1, that paves the way for the disbursement of over $40 million in remaining defined benefit plan employee contributions this week.
According to the Fund yesterday, the pension agency has received notice from Johnson and the CNMI government that the joint resolution conforms with the requirement of “legislative action” outlined by the settlement agreement.
“Therefore, PL 17-82/18-02 applicants can now receive their disbursements,” the Fund said.
The disbursements were originally set for last week but a clause in the original resolution proved to be unacceptable to Johnson’s lawyers.
Some $10 million were earlier disbursed following the preliminary approval of the settlement agreement on Aug. 6 in the U.S. District Court for the NMI.
Under the agreement, the remaining $42 million will be released after the court’s final approval of the settlement agreement and then after legislative approval. Designated judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood gave the final approval on Sept. 30.