By: L.N. Reklai

Social Security Administration (SSA) has failed to provide specific actions upon which its Board of Trustees terminated former ROPSSA Administrator Ulai Teltull, per her attorney’s December 8 written request to the Chairman of the Board, Hefflin Bai.

In the SSA Board of Trustees letter of termination of ROPSA & HCF Administrator Ulai Teltull, they alleged seven (7) wrongful conducts as causes of her termination.  The seven (7) alleged unlawful conducts were 1) Signing contract without the Board’s approval and knowledge, 2) Not divulging all pertinent information to the Board, 3) Giving false information to the leadership of Palau, 4) Insubordination to the Board of Trustees, 5) Putting the Board and Administration reputation at risk, 6) Loss of confidence from the Board of Trustees, and 7) Lack of Confidence from the Congress.

The letter did not provide any specific actions that support the allegations in the termination letter, and Teltull’s attorney requested the Board of ROPSSA for the specific acts that caused his client’s termination.

“In your letter, you mentioned seven (7) alleged wrongful conducts which you claimed constituted malfeasance or misfeasance that was the cause of her termination from the Social Security Administration as the Administrator of ROPSA and HCF.  …In order for Ms. Teltull to exercise her right to procedural due process, she is entitled to know the specific facts upon which these seven (7) alleged misconducts form the basis of her termination,” states the letter from Teltull’s attorney to SSA Board Chairman Heflin Bai.

“I want to know what these misconducts are because everything I did has records in the Board meeting minutes. The allegations are general with no substance but greatly defamed my character. SSA Board is confusing HCF contracts with ROPSA contracts. HCF has its own governing Board that makes decisions and approves separate contracts,” said Ulai Teltull, former SSA Administrator, when reached for comment.

Palau Social Security Administration’s Board of Trustees made a sudden turn-around decision and fired its Administrator after the House of Delegates passed a joint resolution expressing a lack of confidence in SSA and calling for the termination of the SSA Board Chairman and Administrator.

SSA has been going back and forth for over a year with the national congress over the funding source for the SS Supplemental Benefits.  SS Supplemental Benefit, authorized by law without an actuarial study, was previously funded by local revenue. Because of low government revenue, the burden of funding shifted to SSA.

SSA Board of Trustees appeared in public forums and at OEK public hearings, saying they could be held liable for violating their fiduciary duty and would stop payment of the Supplemental Benefits.  OEK, with four SS beneficiaries, filed a lawsuit to prevent SSA from stopping Supplemental Benefit payments.

Social Security Administration Act makes individual SSA Board members liable for mismanagement of the Fund. “Title 41 PNCA “§ 774. Mismanagement of Fund. Any person who has a fiduciary relationship with the Fund and who is found guilty of mismanagement of the Fund, whether by malfeasance, shall be guilty of a felony and is liable to imprisonment for a period not to exceed fifteen (15) years or a fine of not more than one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000) or both.”

Meanwhile, the House of Delegates issued a joint resolution (not yet addressed by the Senate), expressing a lack of confidence in the SSA Board, its Chairwoman Johanna Ngiruchelbad, and SSA Administrator Ulai Teltull and called for the removal of the latter.

The SSA Board, a few days after receiving the information on the OEK resolution, immediately reorganized, unseated Ms. Ngiruchelbad as Chairwoman of the Board, and terminated SSA Administrator Ulai Teltull’s contract, citing seven (7) alleged misconducts. 

Ms. Teltull has retained an attorney to handle her case.

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