Workforce

Retirement claims for feds spike in January

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The Office of Personnel Management received a sharp increase in retirement claims during January 2020, according to recent statistics.

OPM received 17,134 claims for retirement and processed just over 10,000 cases. It was a marked difference from December 2019, during which OPM received 5,205 cases and processed 6,687. The average monthly processing rate for January 2020 was 58 days, versus an average of 61 days for the fiscal year to date.

The January surge caused the backlog of claims to spike to almost 24,000. OPM is looking to reduce that backlog to 13,000 cases.

The total number of retirement cases for January 2020 is the highest since December 2012, which fielded a total of 19,765 incoming cases the month after former President Obama won his second term.

Retirement claims tend to spike around the end and the beginning of calendar years.

Jeffrey Neal, a former chief human capital officer at several federal agencies, explained that the reason for end-of-year retirements is because workers accrue annual leave that exceeds the use-or-lose limit in their last year before retirement.

"They have to be gone by the end of the last pay period of the year in order to get a payout for the leave," Neal told FCW in an email. "It can amount to up to 26 days of pay in addition to the 240-hour use or lose limit."

A sizeable portion of the federal workforce is eligible for retirement, including some 45% to 55% of IRS employees.

About the Author

Lia Russell is a former staff writer and associate editor at FCW.

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