(Minghui.org) Ms. Zhang Wenzhu’s pension was suddenly stopped in September 2020, about four years after she finished serving time for her faith in Falun Gong, a mind-body discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese Communist Party since July 1999. She was later told she would have to reapply for retirement with her years of service at a local factory wiped out.

Ms. Zhang, 56, of Xuancheng City, Anhui Province, used to suffer many ailments. Her health quickly improved and she was able to do household chores without any trouble after she began practicing Falun Gong.

Because she refused to give up her faith, Ms. Zhang was arrested on May 28, 2013, and sentenced to three years. She was tortured in prison and upended injured and in poor health. She was released in May 2016.

Ms. Zhang worked in a textile factory until 1993 when she became a full-time housewife. Her family started to make contributions to her pension insurance in 1998. When she reached 50 (the legal retirement age in China) in 2014 while still serving time, her family stopped making contributions and applied for her retirement benefits. By then, their contributions had totaled nearly 110,000 yuan.

In 2015, she began to receive her pension. By the time the local social security office suspended her pension in September 2020, she had been receiving payments for over six years, totaling 105,000 yuan.

Her family went to the social security office, where they were told that according to a new notice, those serving time aren’t allowed to apply for retirement or receive pensions while they are incarcerated.

According to the new notice, the contributions her family made for her between 2013 and 2014 after her arrest, about 11,000 yuan, couldn’t be counted and would be returned. But the office only returned 40% of the 11,000 yuan and credited the remaining 60% to a public account. Additionally, Ms. Zhang was ordered to return the 105,000 yuan she had been paid over the past six years and to re-apply for retirement with her years of service at the textile factory wiped out. The social security office refused to give a reason for why her work at the factory would no longer count in her new pension benefits calculation.

Since the contributions her family made on her behalf between 2013 and 2014 didn’t count, she still had an eight-month gap to reach the minimum 15-year-contribution requirement in order to qualify for retirement benefits. Ms. Zhang thus paid 6,400 yuan and re-did her retirement application in March 2021.

Ms. Zhang also agreed to return the 105,000 yuan she had been paid within four years. The social security office in turn agreed to issue her new payments again starting in April 2021. Since her service at the textile factory before 1993 was erased for no reason, she receives only 1,040 yuan a month now, which is half of what she was paid before.

When her family tried to argue with the social security office for arbitrarily suspending her pension without any legal basis, a staff member said, “There’s no use talking about it with us. It’s a national policy and you aren’t the only ones affected by it.”

Chinese version available

Category: Accounts of Persecution