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Liaoning Woman Wins Appeal Over Suspended Pension for Her Faith

July 17, 2022 |   By a Minghui correspondent in Liaoning Province, China

(Minghui.org) Ms. Xu Yuzhi, of Fushun City, Liaoning Province, finished serving one year in prison for her faith in Falun Gong on November 6, 2020. Her local social security bureau suspended her pension in June 2021 and ordered her to return the payments issued to her between her arrest on November 8, 2019 and May 2021. She refused to comply and the social security bureau filed a lawsuit against her.

After the local court sided with the social security bureau in ordering her to return the fund, Ms. Xu appealed with the local intermediate court, which reversed the lower court’s ruling and dismissed the social security bureau’s lawsuit against her.

Lower Court Rules Against Ms. Xu

Ms. Xu, 71-year-old retired award-winning elementary school teacher, was arrested on November 7, 2019, after being reported for talking to people about Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999.

She was later sentenced to one year and fined 4,000 yuan. In June 2021, seven months after she was released, the Fushun City Social Security Bureau suspended her pension.

The social security bureau argued that while reviewing the retirement accounts, they noticed that Ms. Xu had received a total of 74,630.06 yuan in pension payments between her arrest date and May 2021.

They claimed that according to the No. 69 notice from the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security in 2012, no retirees shall be entitled to any pension payments while imprisoned. As such, the pension she received during and after her prison sentence was gained through “fraud” and it was “illegal income” for her.

When Ms. Xu refused to return the fund, the social security bureau sued her with the Shuncheng District Court.

Ms. Xu hired a lawyer to represent her. The lawyer argued that the notice cited by the social security bureau was only an administrative document, without any legal binding power.

He said that as a retired teacher, Ms. Xu is entitled to receiving a pension in accordance with the law. At present, no law mandates the cancellation of pension benefits of retirees, unless under the circumstances of their deaths. He emphasized that there is no clear provision prohibiting retirees sentenced to fixed prison terms from continuing to receive pension while serving time.

The lawyer further pointed out that the social security bureau had no legal basis or evidence to accuse Ms. Xu of committing fraud and fabricating evidence to get her pension. She retired legally and is meeting every condition to receive her hard-earned benefits.

Despite the lawyer’s argument, the Shuncheng District Court ruled in favor of the social security bureau on April 7, 2022 and ordered Ms. Xu to return the specified pension fund.

Appeals Court Rules in Favor of Ms. Xu

Ms. Xu appealed with the Fushun City Intermediate Court, which accepted her case on May 12 and made the final ruling on June 16.

The higher court stated in their decision letter that they carefully reviewed the documents both parties submitted. They agreed with Ms. Xu that the No. 69 notice was illegal. As the document itself was only effective for two years, when no updated version was provided, the existing version would automatically become invalid.

The higher court also said that it’s an administrative action for the social security bureau to issue pension payments to Ms. Xu as a government agency. The social security bureau and Ms. Xu were not equal civil entities, and the case should not be resolved through civil litigation or be accepted as a civil case.

As such, the higher court decided to reverse the lower court’s verdict and dismissed the lawsuit filed by the social security bureau. The court also ordered the 1,666 yuan litigation fee Ms. Xu had paid be returned to her.

It has been thirteen months since Ms. Xu’s pension has been suspended. She urged the social security bureau to follow the higher court’s order and reinstate her pension.

Related article in Chinese:社保滥诉退休金为“不当得利”-抚顺女教师上诉