Babauta to Tang: Stop taking money from retirees without court order

Celina Babauta

Celina Roberto Babauta is questioning the retirement fund’s court-appointed trustee’s decision to collect money from Commonwealth government retirees, and is calling for her to stop the process unless a court orders it.

In a letter dated Monday, Ms. Babauta is questioning Joyce Tang’s effort to collect overtime pay benefits received by retirees and survivors of the Northern Mariana Islands Retirement Fund (NMIRF).

“The settlement agreement, as I understand it, encompassed all potential claims, including those related to overtime pay and clearly outlined all agreed-upon compensations which included a revision of benefits for the Settlement Class while preserving their constitutional rights to accrued and unimpaired benefits,” Ms. Babauta wrote in her letter to Ms. Tang. “Therefore, any additional deductions from retiree benefits, such as overtime collection, would require prior court approval from the court that oversaw the settlement.”

Ms. Tang has yet to respond to the letter.

In January, the trustee sent letters to more than 200 retirees informing them it would begin deducting amounts from their pensions corresponding to their previous receipt of benefits based on overtime pay. The trustee said the benefits should not have applied.

“I urge you to cease any unauthorized collection of overtime pay calculated from NMIRF retiree’s or their eligible survivor’s benefits,” Ms. Babauta wrote. “Any such actions should be brought before the court for approval to ensure adherence to the terms of the settlement and protects the rights of the Settlement Class.”

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