Welcome to the May edition of our monthly newsletter for federal employees! You likely know better than anyone that the government is a beast of an organization, and it can be hard keeping up with all the goings-on. As your financial experts who are dedicated to helping you to financial independence, we like to stay on top of all the news.

This month’s news is predictably centered around Pandemic-related events, such as a proposed hazard pay for federal employees, rollover leave time, and record-low interest rates. But don’t take our word for it! While we’ve provided summaries of each article, we invite you to check out each one for yourself to get all of the juicy facts and information.

SENATORS WANT A 25% PAY RAISE FOR SOME FEDERAL EMPLOYEES
Source: FedSmith

The COVID-19 is stressing pretty much everyone out, but none more so than those essential employees who are working on the frontlines. This week, a group of 19 senators sent a letter to the Office of Personnel Management with a list of demands for protecting public-facing employees, including a 25% raise for hazard pay.


LEGISLATION WOULD ALLOW FEDERAL EMPLOYEES TO CARRY OVER UNUSED ANNUAL LEAVE
Source: My Federal Retirement

Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-VA) has introduced legislation that would allow federal employees to keep their federal leave, instead of losing it due to an inability to take time off during the COVID-19 crisis. Frontline workers who haven’t been able to take time off would be able to save it for next year.


TRUMP MOVES TO REPLACE TSP BOARD MEMBERS, PROMPTING CONCERNS OF POLITICIZATION
Source: Government Executive

Trump nominated three new board members for the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board, which is responsible for managing the federal government’s retirement savings program. The nominations are an apparent effort to prevent the Thrift Savings Plan from implementing a 2017 decision that would base the international fund on a broader index that includes investments in Chinese companies. The nominations have come after months of lobbying by Republican lawmakers, spurring concerns that the decisions were made for political expedience rather than fiduciary prudence.


OPM’S RETIREMENT BACKLOG IMPROVES BY 6.5% AMID CORNOAVIRUS PANDEMIC
Source: FedSmith

While COVID-19 continues to bring much of the world to a halt, not everything is grim — the Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM) retirement backlog is trending in a positive direction this month. The office processed more claims than they received (8,115 to 6,740, respectively), bringing the backlog to below 20,000 for the first time since the beginning of the year, marking a 6.5% drop over March. For obvious reasons, the backlog is higher right now than it was during this period last year, but improvement is improvement nonetheless.


DEMOCRATS CALL FOR RETROACTIVE EXPANSION OF PAID PARENTAL LEAVE TO FEDERAL EMPLOYEES
Source: Federal News Network

The Federal Employee Paid Leave Act (FEPLA) was successfully passed in 2019, and was considered a landmark achievement for the wellbeing of federal employees. The law provides up to 12 weeks of paid parental leave for federal employees, and it was lauded by many as being “historic.” However, the benefits don’t take effect until October 2020. Recently, House Democrats have been pushing to hasten the implementation date so that expecting parents can reap the benefits immediately. The global health crisis has been a factor in this decision, as many workers are facing more complex challenges at home due to lifestyle changes.


IS NOW A GOOD TIME TO REFINANCE A MORTGAGE?
Source: My Federal Retirement

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a pretty massive blow economically. Stock downturns have caused ripple effects in the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), IRAs, and non-retirement investment accounts. But there is some silver lining — interest rates, both short-term and long-term, are at record lows, and there may never be a better time to refinance your mortgage. This is the best window we’ve seen in years, and it’s possible we might not see an opportunity this great again.