The number of retiring federal employees rose last year, driven higher in part by a wave of U.S. Postal Service early-outs, according to Office of Personnel Management statistics. By summer, however, the volume of new pension claims had ebbed to a threshold below that of 2012, the figures show.
Overall, OPM received about 114,700 claims last year, up almost 8 percent from the total of 106,400 for calendar 2012. More than one-third of those applications arrived in January and February as droves of clerks and other postal workers were leaving with the encouragement of $15,000 buyouts, combined with a standard early retirement package that relaxed standard age and creditable service requirements.
But the exodus didn’t last, despite the inconvenience and financial hardship caused by sequester-related furloughs affecting hundreds of thousands of employees and last October’s partial government shutdown. Starting in July, the volume of new monthly pension claims stayed consistently below the 2012 benchmarks. For the second half of last year, the number of new claims added up to approximately 39,800, down almost 20 percent from 2012.