SACRAMENTO — Twenty-four percent more federal employees filed for retirement last fiscal year than did in 2017.
Most retirees have been able to enjoy the time off with pay for a job well done. But those who applied for retirement around the start of the government shutdown say that’s not how it’s working for them.
After decades of work, Phillip Miedema was throwing up his hands instead of relaxing on what should have been his 21st official day of retirement from civil service with the U.S. Coast Guard in Alameda.
“My retirement’s in limbo,” he said. “The paperwork’s not being processed because the people that would process it have been furloughed.”
Based on papers submitted around Dec. 1, 2018, his retirement was set to take effect Dec. 31. What’s now the longest government shutdown in U.S. history started at midnight that same day.
“If I’m considered retired I can’t collect unemployment,” Miedema told FOX40.
That means he can’t even take advantage of the Band-Aid measure Gov. Gavin Newsom is bucking the federal government with by extending state unemployment insurance to those furloughed or working without pay as the shutdown showdown over border security continues.
Right now, the only thing to sustain them is his wife’s social security earned as a teacher’s aide.
“That’s the only income we have coming in right now and that doesn’t cover the bills,” Miedema said.
Employees of the Retirement Services division of the government’s Office of Personnel Management, or OPM, keep working during shutdowns. But Miedema hasn’t been able to confirm if his paperwork got passed on to retirement services from OPM or if it made it to OPM at all.
Miedema says now all he wants is a law to be passed so the federal government “can never do this again.”
“I don’t care which side it is but they should not be able to hold 800,000 people hostage for their political stunts,” he said.