(Minghui.org) A local district government in Nanchang City, Jiangxi Province, invalidated an order by the social security bureau requirering that Ms. Xiong Meiying return 131,946.14 yuan of retirement funds she received while serving time for practicing Falun Gong. Four months later, the social security bureau still refused to acknowledge the ruling, and continued to go after her for the retirement funds.

Ms. Xiong, a retired nurse in Nanchang City, Jiangxi Province, went to the social security bureau three times, demanding that the agency resume her pension payments, but to no avail.

Pension Suspension

Ms. Xiong, 74, was arrested on September 24, 2016, for distributing informational materials about Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999. She was sentenced to 3.5 years in Jiangxi Women’s Prison on June 27, 2017.

In October 2019, while she was still serving time, the Shengmi Town Health Center she retired from stopped issuing her pension payments.

When Ms. Xiong was released in March 2020 with poor vision from tortured while in custody, her house had collapsed and valuable items were stolen. She was even more devastated to find that her pension had been suspended.

The local Honggutan District Social Security Bureau told Ms. Xiong that after a recent pension reform, her workplace failed to make contributions to her pension account, which disqualified her from receiving any future pension payments.

Two staff members from the social security bureau further demanded on August 20, 2021 that Ms. Xiong return the 131,946.14 yuan she had received between September 2016 and October 2019, citing a policy from the Jiangxi provincial government that bars retirees from receiving retirement benefits while serving time. They threatened to take legal action against her if she didn’t return the money in time.

To seek justice, Ms. Xiong filed an administrative motion to reconsider her case with the Honggutan District government in August 2021. She said that she began working in 1965 and retired in December 1998. Prior to her latest prison term, she had received pension benefits for over 20 years. She said pension benefits are the legal assets of retirees, and suspending pensions from those who have been imprisoned is unconstitutional and illegal. She demanded that the social security bureau withdraw their notice for her to return the funds.

On November 15, 2021, following a hearing on October 22, Ms. Xiong received a letter from the Honggutan District government. The letter stated that the social security bureau’s request for her to return the pension was invalid and that the agency had been ordered to withdraw the notice.

The letter explained that the provincial government’s policy that the social security bureau referred to was a temporary version and that it had already expired on June 26, 2018. When the social security demanded that Ms. Xiong return her pension on August 20, 2021, there was no updated policy in place, thus rendering their demand invalid.

Three Visits to the Social Security Bureau

In late November 2021, one week after the Honggutan District government’s ruling, Ms. Xiong and her family went to the social security bureau and asked to talk to its director, Liu Hongxia, about when they would resume her pension. They were blocked outside by security personnel, who claimed that Liu wasn’t in the office.

Ms. Xiong and her family went to the social security bureau again in mid-January 2022. But its staff members again refused to provide further information.

During their third visit on January 17, a deputy director surnamed Dan received them. She didn’t respond to Ms. Xiong’s question about when they would resume her pension payment, but gave her a copy of the notice “Basic pension insurance regulations for staff of public institutions and institutions” issued by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security in 2015.

Similar to the notice the bureau cited from the provincial government previously that had been deemed expired and invalid by the Honggutan District government, the document shown by director Dan ruled that the social security bureau had the power to suspend a retiree’s pension, and demand the refund of overpayment, when the retirees became ineligible to receive the pension due to disappearance, prison sentence, or death.

Director Dan ordered Ms. Xiong to sign a document, agreeing to pay back the 131,946.14 yuan, but she refused to comply.

As Ms. Xiong tried to argue with her, the bureau’s staff members began to take her photos. Her family condemned them and also took photos of the staff members. Only then did the staff members begin to leave.

Related reports:

Order for Falun Gong Practitioner to Return Pension during Her Prison Term Ruled Invalid

Jiangxi Woman Seeks Justice Against Financial Persecution for Her Faith

Ms. Xiong Meiying Persecuted in Jiangxi Province Women’s Prison

Retired Nurse Placed on Trial for Her Faith