Social Security Office Defies Court Order to Return Pension Withheld from Woman for Her Faith in Falun Gong
(Minghui.org) As part of the financial persecution against Falun Gong practitioners, the Liaoning Province Social Security Bureau issued a notice in 2016 to withhold pension benefits from Falun Gong practitioners being imprisoned for their faith.
The Social Security Office in Linghai City, Liaoning Province not only followed the policy to stop a local resident's pension since 2016, but also demanded that she return payments received during her imprisonment for practicing Falun Gong between 2009 and 2014.
Ms. Wei Xiuying refused to return the money, and the Linghai Social Security Office filed a civil lawsuit against her in 2018. After a local trial court ruled against her, she filed an appeal as well as an administrative complaint against the social security office for illegally withholding her pension since 2016.
Ms. Wei won her administrative lawsuit, and the social security office filed an appeal. The local appeals court ruled in favor of her in both appeal cases.
The social security office was ordered to return the full pension payments withheld during the past two years, but it has refused to comply with court order and continued to seek payments from Ms. Wei.
Ms. Wei has applied for a compulsory execution of the court order.
Sentenced to Seven Years for Her Faith
Ms. Wei, a resident from Linghai City, Liaoning Province, was arrested in April 2009 and sentenced to a seven-year prison term five months later for practicing Falun Gong, a mind-body discipline that has been persecuted by the communist regime since 1999.
She served time at Liaoning Women's Prison and was released on medical parole on April 14, 2014.
Social Security Office Demands Return of Pension Payments
In November 2016, the Linghai Social Security Office suddenly stopped her pension payments and demanded that she return the 130,000 yuan she had received during her five-year imprisonment.
Ms. Wei went to the social security office in December 2016 to inquire about the case. She was told that Liaoning Province Human Resource and Social Security Office had just issued a notice saying that Falun Gong practitioners shouldn't receive pension payments while they were imprisoned or detained at labor camps for not renouncing their faith.
Court Rules Against Ms. Wei in Civil Lawsuit
Ms. Wei refused to acknowledge the persecution policy and didn't return the money.
She was served a summons on March 30, 2018 and learned that the Linghai Social Security Office had filed a civil lawsuit with Linghai City Court against her for not returning the “illegal income.”
The court ruled in favor of the social security office on June 28, 2018.
Ms. Wei Files Appeal and Administrative Lawsuit
Ms. Wei asked her lawyer to file an appeal with the Jinzhou City Intermediate Court (Linghai is under the jurisdiction of Jinzhou City) on her behalf.
While reviewing her case, the lawyer noted that the notice from the Liaoning Province Social Security Office to stop pension payment to Falun Gong practitioners imprisoned for their faith is unconstitutional.
Ms. Wei thus had the lawyer file an administrative lawsuit with the Linghai City Court against the Linghai Social Security Office for withholding her pension. The court held a hearing for the administrative lawsuit on August 24, 2018.
The officers from Linghai Social Security Office admitted that they had stopped Ms. Wei's pension since November 2016 to offset the funds she received during her imprisonment. Ms. Wei's lawyer argued that such action was illegal.
Ms. Wei Wins Administrative Lawsuit
The Linghai City Court ruled on August 30, 2018 that it was illegal for the social security office to withhold Ms. Wei's pension. The judge ordered the social security office to make full payment to Ms. Wei within ten days of the ruling.
The social security office objected to the decision and appealed to the Jinzhou City Intermediate Court.
Ms. Wei Wins Her Appeal in Civil Lawsuit
Jinzhou City Intermediate Court ruled on January 21, 2019 to overturn the Linghai City Court's decision in favor of the social security office. The higher court stated that the social security office, as a government agency, is not a private party, as Ms. Wei is, and that its original civil lawsuit against her shouldn't have been heard by the lower court in the first place, as the lower court should only handle disputes between private parties.
The higher court's ruling was final.
Social Security Office Drops Appeal in Administrative Lawsuit
Ms. Wei was informed by the intermediate court in March 2019 that the social security office had dropped their appeal in November 2018. So the lower court's ruling in her administrative lawsuit became effective and the social security office must pay Ms. Wei full amount of her withheld pension.