Federal retirement numbers show no surge in February

The recent 35-day partial government shutdown may have caused hundreds of federal workers to re-evaluate their retirement plans, but for the time being the Office of Personnel Management is showing no immediate surge in departures.

New retirement claims filed with OPM were down in February from the month before, following a similar pattern to both 2017 and 2018. And just as in those years, this February’s number of claims processed also increased from January.

According to numbers released by OPM this week, February saw 10,792 retirement claims received compared to 13,264 claims in January — an 18.6 percent decrease. The number of claims processed came in at 10,543 last month, up 29.2 percent from the 8,162 claims processed in January.

Year over year, February also saw fewer new retirement claims and more claims processed, with the monthly backlog falling from 24,225 claims in 2018 to 23,370 claims in 2019. However, the backlog did increase by 249 claims from January to February of this year.

Meanwhile, the average processing time for retirement claims stayed flat at 58 days in both January and February. The fiscal year-to-date average processing time dropped from 60 days to 57 between January and February, according to OPM’s numbers. Feds who submitted their claims during the shutdown were expected to wait longer than usual for those claims to be processed.

Nevertheless, federal retirement has been trending upward for several years, and the shutdown did little if anything to improve impressions of the government as a secure employer. Total federal retirements steadily dropped from 2013 to 2016 and began to pick up slightly in 2017.

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