Insight By EconSys

How to prepare for a record number of retirement-eligible federal employees

This content is provided by EconSys

From 2000 to 2016, the number of employees 60 or older grew from 94,000 to more than 260,000. While the retirement tsunami predicted by the Hudson Institute in 1988 hasn’t yet manifested as many federal employees have opted to work longer, a significant percentage of the civilian workforce in the Federal Government is or will soon be eligible for retirement.

The shift has been so dramatic that some agencies are composed almost entirely of workers over 45 years old and only 1.2% of federal employees are 24 or younger (compared to 13% in the private sector). The result of the growing gap between younger and older employees is that the Federal Government now has a record number of retirement-eligible employees – more than 18% of its civilian workforce. Whether an actual tsunami occurs or not, it’s more important than ever to prepare for annual retirements to increase.

Challenges in Addressing Higher Number of Potential Retirees

Until recently, 2013 was the high-water mark for federal employee retirements with 114,697. The number decreased steadily through 2016 but jumped by more than 12% in 2018. While a further surge hasn’t yet materialized in 2019, the concern remains. This persistent state of limbo creates planning challenges and additional workload in resource-strapped agencies. In addition to the high number of potential retirees, federal retirement specialists must contend with:

  • Continuing changes to the retirement process for federal employees, including both FERS and CSRS.
  • No mandated retirement age, meaning continued delays in retirement by federal employees are difficult to plan for.
  • A growing backlog of applicants. While the backlog has decreased slightly in the early months of 2019, it remains over 23,000.
  • Struggles to recruit younger applicants mean the number of employees over 45 can be three or even four times greater than those under 45, setting significant potential retirement problems in the future.

While we don’t know if an actual retirement tsunami will happen, resource-limited agencies are already working to keep up with current demand. Additional resources and tools will be needed if the number of applicants further increases.

Implementing a More Efficient System to Support the Retirement Process

The software systems used by federal retirement specialists are often inefficient and outdated, some of them decades old. These legacy software systems can lead to longer processing times and a higher risk of errors in applications. Common issues like the need to rekey service history when a change is made can add a significant amount of time to a single application.

Benefits for retirements specialists of a more robust software solution include:

  • A flexible service history view that can display and support editing of the same information as the eOPF.
  • A fully-functional Federal Erroneous Coverage Corrections Act (FERCCA) calculator.
  • Self-serve tools for employees to compute estimates and submit error-free applications.
  • Reporting and case tracking functionality to streamline application management.

With workload expected to remain the same or increase for federal retirement specialists and workforce reductions a constant concern, having a more efficient system designed to handle the retirement process is beneficial.

A Comprehensive Retirement Calculator Solution

With more robust technology, federal HR specialists can directly address how long it takes to process retirement applications without the need to rekey data or worry about errors. EconSys is a trusted partner to more than 100 federal agencies, providing the only OPM-certified FERCCA calculator on the market. Learn more about how EconSys can support federal retirement processing for any size agency.