Despite ominous news of civil service reform legislation and executive orders meant to shake-up the federal workforce, about 9.1 percent fewer retirement claims were received in May than the month before.
Nearly 26.4 percent fewer retirement claims were processed last month than in April, according to the latest monthly report from the Office of Personnel Management. The agency counted 7,625 claims received in May versus 8,390 claims in April.
Historically, January, February and July are popular months for retirement claims, with numbers falling in between and typically reaching their lowest point around the holiday season.
January is also when the claims backlog tends to tick upward, as seen this January when OPM reported 24,225 claims yet to be processed — its highest peak since at least October 2014.
As for last month, that backlog rose nearly 3 percent to 18,024 from 17,489 in April. By comparison, the steady state goal is 13,000 claims.
The 58-day average processing time for claims was unchanged between April and May, and the fiscal-year-to-date average processing time rose slightly from 57 days in March and April to 58 days last month.
Feds are feeling the pressure after President Donald Trump signed signed three executive orders on May 25 that aim to reduce the time it takes to fire poor-performing federal employees, overhaul union rights and cut official time privileges. As a result, the National Treasury Employees Union and the American Federal of Government Employees are suing the Trump administration over the orders.
On top of that, the president has proposed cutting $109 billion from federal retirement over 10 years by raising retirement contributions, eliminating the cost-of-living adjustment and cutting the Social Security supplement.
But one piece of good news came last week when the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board announced more withdrawal options from the Thrift Savings Plan. All TSP participants will be able to take one withdrawal every 30 days, and those who have left federal service will have no other limitations beyond the 30-day requirement for partial withdrawals.