Seeks TRO to stop SSA from suspending benefit payments

Olbiil era Kelulau (national congress) filed a lawsuit yesterday against the Social Security Administration for stopping payment of the supplemental benefits to all SSA retirees and beneficiaries.  OEK had issued a letter on October 17 demanding that the SSA Board of Trustees rescind their announcement and decision to stop the supplemental benefit payments by the end of the working day on October 18th.

Social Security Administration did not rescind their announcement as demanded.  Instead, it responded to the letter from OEK acknowledging the receipt and informing OEK that the attorney was reviewing the letter and they will respond “in due course.”

OEK, in its lawsuit, asks the court to issue a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO), stopping the Social Security Administration from following through on its announcement to stop payment of the supplemental benefits of Social Security retirees and beneficiaries.

Moreover, the lawsuit  demands that the court declare the supplemental benefits mandated by law legal benefits that the Social Security Administration should pay to the beneficiaries and that the SSA Board of Trustees and its administrator are not authorized by law “to reduce, suspend or eliminate any benefit passed into law.”  It also asks the court to stop the SSA from suspending, reducing, or eliminating Social Security benefits unless authorized by law.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit include Senate and House of Delegates of the Olbiil Era Kelulau and five social security beneficiaries, Hasinta Tabelual, Samuel Sakai Ngirchokebau, Beverlin Takeo, Abby Rdialul, and Rachel Rdialul.

Individual plaintiffs claim harm due to the previous suspension of the benefits. The harmful effects of suspension included the inability to pay power bills, food, medicine, and fees due to bill payments not going through as scheduled.

“If I do not receive my legal benefit in November, I am sure that I will have to make the same difficult decisions I had to make in May, choices between bills and fuel, penalties and food, interests and financial well-being.  I will risk having my power turned off and not affording my medication,” stated one of the plaintiffs Samuel Sakai Ngirchokebai, in his affidavit.

Social Security Administration issued an announcement letting Social Security beneficiaries know it will not be paying the $50 supplemental benefit (for all SS beneficiaries) and the $50(to retirees and disability beneficiaries) effective October 14.

The supplemental benefits are benefits authorized under RPPL 11-12 and 11-24 in addition to the SSA benefits earned based on SSA calculations.  The SSA announcement stated that the ROP SSA Actuarial Study of 2020 “revealed that the Fund will likely collapse in the year 2031 with respect to current practices.” 

The conflict between the SSA law mandates was noted by the SSA Board of Trustees Chairperson in May 2022 when the same issue arose.  The SSA Chairperson Ngiruchelbad said these two legal mandates conflict and place SSA Trustees in a “legal predicament.”

The SSA law requires that the Trustees act as fiduciaries and fulfill the mandate of the law, which states that the Social Security System “…be self-supporting and self-financing and not to be financed by public money (except to the extent that the government, in its capacity as an employer, makes contributions to the system)”.

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