Jessica Klement, vice president of advocacy at the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association, details what the shutdown means for federal retirement benefits, and what most concerns active employees.
While the partial government shutdown is making finances difficult for federal employees right now, it’s also impacting some people who planned on leaving public service. According to the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association, some federal retirement benefits are not being processed. Jessica Klement, vice president of advocacy at NARFE, says that the shutdown interrupted key steps in the retirement process for furloughed employees. “You let your agencies know what your retirement date is. Chances are you started the retirement paperwork two to three months before that date. Which is why for most people, hopefully, the shutdown isn’t affecting retirement plans,” Klement said. “Let’s say your retirement day was January 4. The government’s still shut down, and your agency has to send the paperwork to the Office of Personnel Management. So the first question is, did your agency do that before the government shut down? The next question is, did the Thrift Savings Plan get it? Once OPM gets it, they send it to the thrift savings plan and let them know that you are separated via retirement… OPM retirement services are working, but that agency to OPM step still needs to happen.” For the employees who are not retiring, Klement says that many federal workers she’s talked to are concerned about receiving a pay raise. “Adding insult to injury, the president took action to freeze federal pay in the midst of the shutdown. He has the authority to do so independent of congressional action. So, in addition to being furloughed and not getting paid, the president also froze pay for 2019,” Klement told Government Matters. “The House and Senate have passed a 1.9% average pay raise for employees next year. I’m hopeful that once this chaos ends and the government is reopened, that is something we can move forward with.”