business man or gov employee drowning in paperwork (Photo: Shutterstock)

A report in Government Executive suggests that now might not be the best time to retire, especially for federal employees. No, not because of the stock market’s volatile behavior.

Related: How to get Social Security help when offices are closed due to COVID-19

Because of stay-at-home orders: While federal employees might have been planning on retiring before the world went sideways, the potential complications of doing so during the pandemic, with staff possibly out of the office and chances for difficulties increased.

The report compares it to trying to retire “during the furlough of 2018–19 that went on for 35 days.” Only essential work was processed during that period, necessarily slowing paperwork on other things—such as retirement—and “those employees who had the unfortunate timing to retire during the furlough had to live with uncertainty about the status of their retirement claims.”

The same could hold true during the pandemic, since although most employees are still working there could be delays not just in processing retirement applications but also in implementation of benefits.

With many employees teleworking, and the federal retirement system “is still paper-based,” that can cause delays—although the Office of Personnel Management does say that all work within retirement services is still being processed.

However, according to the report, “much of the work [for the retirement system] is done at an underground facility in Boyers, Pennsylvania. So far, the operation remains open and employees have continued to report for work, but that could change.”

The Thrift Savings Plan is also continuing to operate, at least for now, with forms being processed and personnel available to answer questions. In addition, employees can access their accounts online.

However, warns the report, “This is a changing situation, though, and that could eventually affect the TSP’s operations.”

If you have a choice, it appears it might be best to hold off on submitting your paperwork until after the situation stabilizes a bit.