Workforce

Federal retirement claims on the rise

Image: Serg001 / Shutterstock 

The number of retirement claims received by the Office of Personnel Management so far this calendar year is already around last year's total, according to new data released by the personnel agency.

Through nine months of 2018, OPM has received 85,308 retirement claims, almost 9,500 a month. At this time last year, OPM had received 66,933 -- and ended up receiving 86,923 over the entire year, about 7,200 a month.

A wave of retiring feds has been predicted for years. While Paul Light, a professor of public service at New York University, said the numbers "are not unexpected," he tempered expectations that they necessarily augur the long-awaited retirement bubble's bursting.

"The retirements are not yet a sign of what some of us call the 'silver tsunami,'" he said. "A very large number of federal employees are going to retire sometime in the coming decade, and this could be the beginning of the rotation."

As far as external reasons an increased number of feds may be moving on, "[t]he economy is good, inflation is relatively low, investments are at post-recession highs and the president is hardly asking federal employees to stay longer," Light said.

Light also pointed to internal changes -- namely, the reorganization proposal, plus the proposed retirement cuts and pay freeze -- as potential motivators.

"There is now enough uncertainty surrounding the OPM reorganization, pay raises, and retirement cuts that some federal employees may be thinking it's a good time to go," he said.

The Trump administration proposed cutting retirement benefits $143 billion over the next 10 years. Additionally, the White House is looking to shift core human resources functions out of OPM and consolidate some functions with the General Services Administration. The administration recently replaced the personnel agency's Senate-confirmed Director Jeff Tien Han Pon with the Office of Management and Budget's Deputy Director Margaret Weichert, reportedly for slow-rolling OPM's end of the consolidation.

About the Author

Chase Gunter is a staff writer covering civilian agencies, workforce issues, health IT, open data and innovation.

Prior to joining FCW, Gunter reported for the C-Ville Weekly in Charlottesville, Va., and served as a college sports beat writer for the South Boston (Va.) News and Record. He started at FCW as an editorial fellow before joining the team full-time as a reporter.

Gunter is a graduate of the University of Virginia, where his emphases were English, history and media studies.

Click here for previous articles by Gunter, or connect with him on Twitter: @WChaseGunter

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