If you’re like most federal workers, the only pay raise you’ve had in the past three years came because you got a within-grade-raise or, even less likely, a promotion. But that may be about to change in a good way if the narrow-to-clogged promotion pipeline in agencies opens up big time in 2014.
The more office retirement luncheons you attend means that many more higher-paying, higher-grades jobs will open up. If you’ve been stuck in the same job and grade for years, this could be launch time.
Effective Jan. 11 of this year, people retiring under the FERS program will be able to credit all their unused sick leave toward their service time in government. For some people — with months or even a year or more of unused sick leave — the new perk is invaluable. Someone with a year of sick leave could boost his or her starting annuity by about 1.1 percent. Not a lot, but better than a sharp stick in the eye.
Up until now, FERS employees could apply only half of their unused sick leave time toward retirement. This year, however, FERS workers now get full credit for unused sick leave, just like CSRS employees have enjoyed all along. For people with six months to a year of unused sick leave (which many people have), it will be an immediate and lifetime annuity booster.
Although pundits have predicted a tidal wave of retirements from government, the tsunami has yet to overwhelm the government and strip offices of some of their most experienced workers. The lack of pay raises, the lousy external job market and the battering that TSP accounts took during the recession kept many retirement-ready feds on the job.
There was a surge in retirements last year, in January, February and March. But after that, monthly retirement rates ran below the estimates of the Office of Personnel Management. Overall, slightly more people retired in 2013 than in 2012. But this may be the year to break all records.
In addition to the rocky (outside of Washington and a few other hot spots) economy, many feds were not anxious to pull the plug until the Office of Personnel Management solved its long and chronic problem of processing retirement applications. The delays (some lasting up to year) meant that many, too many, retirees had to tap into their TSP accounts or savings until their first full retirement payment was credited to their bank account.
The government’s perennially poor budget picture (including the ill- fated shutdown and the dubious sequestration process) made it tough for some agencies to implement succession-planning programs, and caused younger and mid- career workers to get stuck on the promotion ladder. The failure to set up the phased retirement program (allowing retirement eligible workers to mentor their successors on a part-time schedule) also apparently reduced the number of anticipated retirements and contributed to the lack of promotion opportunities.
Federal retirements taper off in December Fewer federal employees filed for retirement in December than in any month in nearly the last two years, according to updated statistics from the Office of Personnel Management. Just 4,952 federal employees filed for retirement in December. But even with fewer employees retiring in December, OPM’s retirement processing failed to keep pace with projections. The agency had expected to process 11,500 retirement cases but actually ended the month clearing a little more than 6,440.
Senator sues OPM over health care regulations Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) has filed a lawsuit against Katherine Archuleta, the head of the Office of Personnel Management, seeking to overturn an OPM regulation that allows lawmakers and their staffs to continue receiving a government contribution toward their health insurance premiums.