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OPM Reduces Retirement Backlog, and Gas Reimbursement Rates Decrease Slightly

A weekly roundup of pay and benefits news.

The backlog of pending federal employee retirement requests reached its lowest point in the last two years last month, as the Office of Personnel Management prepares for the annual surge of new retirees in January and February, according to statistics released Monday.

In December, 5,205 federal workers filed for retirement, a significant decrease from the 7,822 claims filed in the previous month. And although the number of claims processed by OPM also fell, from 7,314 requests in November to 6,687 last month, that was enough to reduce the backlog by nearly 1,400.

By the end of the year, the number of pending retirement requests stood at 16,908, down from 18,390 claims at the end of November. That figure marks the lowest backlog since December 2017, when the backlog fell to 14,515 pending claims.

Despite the drop in the overall backlog, the monthly average time to process retirement requests shot up from 62 days in November to 66 days last month.

Meanwhile, the General Services Administration last week announced the 2020 reimbursement rates for use of a personal vehicle to travel for agency business, delivering slightly bad news to most feds who use their own cars for work.

If no government-furnished vehicle is provided, automobile gas reimbursement rates are $0.575 per mile this year, down from $0.58 in 2019. If a government-furnished vehicle is available, the federal government will reimburse employees $0.17 per mile, a decrease from $0.20 per mile last year.

If feds travel via motorcycle, they will receive $0.545 per mile, down from $0.55 per mile in 2019. And if federal employees use their own airplane, they will receive $1.27 per “statute mile,” which is roughly 0.87 nautical miles. That marks an increase over last year, when pilots received $1.26 per mile in reimbursement.

If traveling as part of relocating for a federal job, the gas reimbursement rate is $0.17 per mile this year.