Retirement tsunami or aging in place?

Ever since the late 1990s some experts on government matters have been predicting a tidal wave of retirements from key federal agencies. That sparked fears of a...

Ever since the late 1990s some experts on government matters have been predicting a tidal wave of retirements from key federal agencies. That sparked fears of a brain drain as experienced feds fled their jobs heading for the shuffle-board courts.

The predictions made sense at the time because so many feds were at or approaching retirement age. Also most workers at that time were still under the old Civil Service Retirement System which provides a much bigger annuity — fully indexed to inflation — than the Federal Employees Retirement System that replaced it. CSRS was setup as a stand-alone pension plan.

By contrast people under the FERS plan need Social Security and investments in their Thrift Savings Plan accounts to match CSRS benefits.

For whatever reason the tidal wave didn’t hit and the brain drain didn’t happen. Or if it has, nobody has noticed.

When President Donald Trump was elected there was much speculation in the media that feds would quit or retire in droves. Again, it didn’t happen. But now there is a new retirement tsunami watch, still Trump-related because is part of the aftermath of the recent 35-day partial government shutdown.

Many federal agencies and operations are still recovering from the impact of yanking 800,000 feds temporarily off the payroll, missing two paycheck cycles, forcing some to work and forcing others to stand by.

Some people still haven’t gotten all the back pay due them. And it could be months or years before pending court cases are settled that may or may not mean extra compensation for those hit by the shutdown.

Some people now believe that federal retirement rates, which have steady for years, may be about to trend upward once February claims that couldn’t be handled during the shutdown enter the system. They point out that a lot can’t happen during 35 days of mass-confusion, which different agencies handled in different ways.

In some agencies there were no employees to file claims because they were at home, while for others there was no way to get the claims to the Office of Personnel Management.

Last week Federal News Network reported little change in the number of retirement claims filed between January and February of this year compared to the same two months in 2017. December and January are the two most popular months to retire. New retirement claims filed in February were down from the month before, which is normal.

Monthly numbers, including processing rates, can be found on OPM’s website.

Andre H., who retired two years ago, said he never believed there would be a tidal wave of retirements “until now.” He said he’s still in touch with people from his old office and he’s detected “a major attitude change” since the shutdown.

“The pay raise was a surprise, and helped,” he said. But he points out the retiree cost of living adjustment 2.8 percent is bigger than the 1.9 percent pay raise “and you don’t have to do traffic when you’re retired!”

That’s a good point — We’ll be watching the March numbers to see if the water is rising.

Nearly Useless Factoid

By Amelia Brust

When Estée Lauder launched her cosmetics company she added the accent to the first name to make it sound French. But actually, Lauder was a New Yorker of Hungarian-Jewish descent and Estee — a derivation of Eszti — was her nickname. Her birth name was Josephine Esther Mentzer and her married name was Lauter, later changed to Lauder.

Source: Wikipedia

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