The Office of Personnel Management’s latest report of retirement claims may not be a reliable picture of the coronavirus’ impact on the federal workforce size to date. But compared to 2019 the number of claims is significantly down.
Last month, OPM received 6,566 retirement claims compared to 10,048 claims in March 2019 — a nearly 35% drop — which followed the 35-day partial government shutdown. March 2020 retirement claims were also down about 15% from this time two years ago, when OPM received just 7,767 new claims.
OPM processed far fewer claims last month than in February — 8,931 in March compared to 9,627 the month before. This is different from what happened in 2019, when the agency managed to process more claims in March than in February.
Meanwhile, like most federal agencies OPM has had to shift to maximum possible teleworking as the COVID-19 crisis continues.
As for the length of time needed to process retirement claims, the average time for March increased to 61 days from 54 days in February. The year-to-date average processing time only increased by one day, to 60 days, according to OPM’s report.
This brought both metrics nearly in line with OPM’s goal of a two-month average process time.