The OPM Retirement Processing Backlog

By on August 14, 2011 in Current Events, Retirement with 108 Comments

Since my article of April 20, 2011 about the OPM delay in finalizing retirements, I have received many comments from readers. There was a deluge of comments in the week or two after the article appeared, and a trickle after that.

By and large, the comments questioned OPM’s assertion that the average time it takes to finalize a retirement is 117 days, though there were a few positive comments. This may be because those who are receiving poor (delayed) service are quicker to comment than those who are happy with the level of service they receive. On the other hand, it could also be because the actual time taken to finalize an annuity is more that the time claimed by Bill Zielinski of OPM.

A few of the comments are listed below:

  • This has been going on for more
    than a year and we are expected to applaud a 15% improvement! How about this – OPM be given a mandatory 45
    days to process ALL retirement claims. OPM implemented the same time limit on all agencies for recruitment and
    would not entertain ANY exceptions, regardless of the complexity of the
    recruitment – and we were given only a matter of weeks to make it happen. It’s about time OPM stopped lecturing
    everyone else and started leading by example.
  • It took 37 days to get my final.
  • I should have recorded the
    responses I heard on the phone! But,
    hey, all it took was a call to my Congressman and within two days my money was
    there. Need I add that this whole ordeal
    took close to a year?!
  • I think it is a disgrace to wait
    196 days. I was taking money out of
    savings to meet the bills. I have a
    spouse who was contributing to the checking account also. Best be prepared if you are the sole source
    of income when planning your retirement.
  • I retired on 11/3/10 and am still
    waiting for my CSRS case to be finalized. I’m only receiving 30% of my annuity too. The main OPM retirement line gave me the
    branch and group number that is handling my case back in February, but when I
    called all I consistently got was a voice mail with a promise to return my call
    which didn’t happen until early April. Now I’m being told my case probably won’t settle until June 1st
    because of the backlog. Seven months is
    absurd!
  • CSRS here. I retired 2/28/11 and received 1st
    interim payment on 4/6/11 but it was only 31.5% of my estimated annuity.
  • It mostly depends on how complex
    your retirement situation is…my experience was better than I hoped for.
  • I retired 289 days ago and continue
    to receive monthly payments of $570 – which is less than ¼ of my expected
    annuity. Repeated calls to OPM have
    yielded no information on my paperwork other than it is sitting in an office
    known as “FERS-1”. In the last couple of
    months I have attempted to contact that office but usually get disconnected
    because of a full mailbox. Those times I
    was able to get through and leave a message no one has returned my calls.
  • I retired on 8/26/10 and I’m still
    receiving my interim benefit amount! I
    have worked for one agency with no break in service. What is so difficult about that?
  • Yes, we’ve been living off the
    annual leave lump sum, but it is almost gone. Those McDonalds jobs are starting to look attractive!
  • I am at 210 days as an Interim,
    receiving a monthly allowance instead of retirement pay. Fortunately I am qualified for military
    retirement, Social Security and was a TSP participant, all three of which were
    able to receive, review, process and approve all my applications seamlessly
    with full benefits starting right on time.
  • I retired 6/30/10 (FERS). My interim retirement check was processed
    timely. However, it was not until 4/2011
    that my case was finalized.
  • I just talked to a NARFE rep. Said that most packages are taking in the
    neighborhood of 6 months and “complicated” packages (which I know mine is, to
    some extent) are taking longer.
  • Retired on 10/31/10 – 204 days and
    still waiting. Customer service center
    informed me last week that it was taking 28 to 32 weeks to process retirement
    claims.
  • I sent an email inquiry to OPM,
    they responded that it takes 10 – 12 months to process the application.
  • Two words – “PLAN AHEAD”!! Many of you have worked 30 to 40 years to
    save, invest and plan for retirement and now you are saying you can’t live on
    what you have saved for 4 – 6 months. Everyone knows that OPM is slow and takes forever to get your final figures
    and get you your back pay.
  • I retired on 12/31/10 and was
    finalized by 3/18/11. I received 78%
    interim pay. I was pleasantly surprised
    by the process. Thanks OPM!
  • I’ve been retired over 4 months and
    get 31% of estimated pension. I called
    OPM yesterday and was told that employees that retired in March 2011 (when they
    received my files from my agency) will not get their pensions finalized for 6
    to 8 months.

Asked about the above comments, an OPM official stated that OPM could not comment on these cases as the retirees were not identified and that, in general, they do not comment on specific cases due to privacy.

John Grobe’s latest book, The Answer Book on Your Federal Employee Benefits, has just been released by LRP Publications. The book is written in an easy to understand question and answer format and covers all areas of federal benefits from the perspective of an employee at various stages of their career. Order your copy at shoplrp.com.

© 2016 John Grobe. All rights reserved. This article may not be reproduced without express written consent from John Grobe.

About the Author

John Grobe is President of Federal Career Experts, a consulting firm that specializes in federal retirement and career transition issues. He is also affiliated with TSP Safety Net. John retired from federal service after 25 years of progressively more responsible human resources positions. He is the author of Understanding the Federal Retirement Systems and Career Transition: A Guide for Federal Employees, both published by the Federal Management Institute. Federal Career Experts provides pre-retirement seminars for a wide variety of federal agencies.

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  1. wwwestny says:

    I am an ex spouse of a federal employee. He retired June 16, 2012 and I have yet to receive a penny of my court ordered benefits. No interim benefits for ex spouses. This is ridiculous and forces me to live a substandard lifestyle while I wait for the Feds to release my money. All efforts for information are met with a brick wall. I even contacted my Congressman……no results yet!!

  2. Pwest1943 says:

    I am an ex spouse of a federal employee. I have not received any $$$ for my court ordered benefits. This has gone on for 8 months……this is crazy!! I have no income except for social security and can’t get any information because it’s not my claim…..how’s this for government efficiency!!

  3. Roy J Spencer says:

    It has been over 9 months since I retired and I have been receiving approximately 50% of what the FAA calculated.  Thank goodness I was prepared but I never thought it would be this long.  I contacted my Congressmen and his office reported they would be happy to add my name to their list of people who are awaiting their full retirement.  I told them, “no,” that I wanted to give the OPM one more month, but this is it.  I’m not waiting any longer if I have to enter my 10th month of being severely underpaid.  If this was any thing other than the Federal government, their would be a national outrage and the government would come to the recipients rescue.  We have met the enemy and they are us.   

  4. Stellasasha says:

    I am convinced I will never get any annuity when I’m ready – 10 years down the road reading these horror stories about OPM’s handling of annuities.  Reason 1 – US Govt is broke – in debt to the tune of 16 trillion, paying a billion a day in interest alone on this debt.  Reason 2 – Obamacare (Thank you John Roberts) will make it even worse!  If you think the gov’t is doing a poor job handling retirement processing, just wait til you need medical help in a few years when this monstrosity is actually implemented.  Just a total mess – pure and simple.

  5. Jusjaznic says:

    I retired effective December 31, 2011 and have yet to recieve a interim payment.  I have been calling since February 1st and am told that my case is in batch which means it still have to go to processing.  I sent a email via the retirement website on or about Feb 1st and I have yet to get a response.  After 27 years of Federal employment, it is a shame that you cannot address your concerns to someone other than the robots that look up your information as they evidently have a list of responses which are all the same and cannot do anything about your situation and cannot transfer you to anyone that may make a difference.  I also left comments on the White House web site on or about February 1st and yeap, you got it, no response to date there either.

  6. Thelma Mcclure says:

    I retired June 30, 2011.  Begin Receiving my intrem check in August.  However, I still do not have my full annuity check.  Some of the others I worked with and retired the same day received their full annuity check in January. One I know retired either 2 or 3 months later and I am told already received his full annuity check. 

    I was under CSRS and according to the figures I was given just before retirement, My buy out check was less that was calculated also.  I just wonder if they figured it incorrectly.

    Also when I contacted OPM I get no answer on the contact line for the representative that worked my case.  I know she retired a month or so later, and was given another persons name but the same number.

    It seems when you retire that they want to forget about you. 

    I need to begin receiving my full retirement entitlement as soon as possible.
    It is now 7 month. From July 1 – Jan 28 (today) it is 212 days.

    It seems that this is a long time for this to be processed.

    Thanks for any assistance you can provide in getting the retires money to them in a more timely fashion.

    Former IRS Employee for over 30 years.

  7. R_kosinski says:

    I retired CSRS Feb 28, 2011 and am still waiting for my full retirement instead of the interim pay.  It has been 11 months.  Besides calling OPM, I have contacted my Congressman but have still had no luck in gettting any results from anyone.  Instead OPM informed me they had just received my paperwork after 8 months after submission.  I would be interested in finding out the grades of those who received their full retirement in a timely manner.

  8. Dan Larrick says:

    I retired 17 Jun 11. After 3 phone calls, and two emails (I waited to contact OPM beginnng 1 Oct 11)I received an email (18 Jan 12) and was told
    ” Your
    retirement case file is currently being processed in the Boyers

    office.  At this time it is not assigned to an
    individual.  Due to the

    fact
    there are over 40,000 applications on hand, and we are processing

    them
    in the order received, you may expect to receive an average of 10

    interim
    payments prior to finalization.

     

    Basically, it is taking 10 months to finish a FERS retirement package. My Congressman will be receiving a letter with backup documenation shortly. Do not know if it will help, but this is totally unacceptable.

  9. Deckee says:

    We need legal representation for a federal etired employees’ class action suit.  It is unacceptable that OPM is getting away with this.  We are attacked by Congress and OPM.  These are not good times to be a federal employee or a retired federal employee.  Congress is against federal employees; thus, they will not mandate OPM to hire retired federal annuity processors.  Trainees will not be able to get OPM out of this awful backlog.

  10. Dwight G Frey says:

    Bad, Worse, Worst>>> I retired 12-30-2010.  Today is 12-19-2011.  Yes you are correct, my retirement case is UNRESOLVED…Ridiculous….

  11. Bugville1 says:

    I think we are entitled to interest if we are made to wait more than a couple of months for our full annuity. Let the HR retirement staff at the retiring employee’s agency help to reduce this backlog. Mine seemed very knowledgeable, though they certainly didn’t tell me about this rediculous backlog. I’m calling my congressmen next week as I’m getting nowhere with OPM. How about a class action lawsuit??????  

  12. Lislor says:

    OPM, why are you so slow in your preparation in hiring effective employees or should have trained
    your current employees way back 3-4 years ago to process Retirement annuities? They would have been  
    experts by the time Baby Boomers are ready to retire?  You are punishing us who worked our tails off,
    and yet we have to wait many many months of our earned money to barely live on our annuities. 
    Do something and be resourceful!    

  13. Retiree & loving it says:

    I retired 1/31/2010 and I was finalized September 2010, but only when I called in complaining. It makes no sense to take as long as they have for processing retirement packages. Employees should be outrage and voice your concerns as I did to your congressional person as well as the President Retirees have paid their dues and do not deserve to be treated in this manner. I retired as the time when our President approved giving FERS employee time for their sick leave. Since OPM was having problems calculating the percentages is to be expected, but from reading that they are still backlog makes no sense at all. Hire some retirees back to help with the backlog, or pull employees from other areas to help out. I believe it takes about 6 months to train people in this area, so train people, or get rid of those who are not moving their caseload with time frame given.
    Call in complaining, get fax numbers and jam up the fax machine with complaints. The bottom line is to stop taking business as usually.  It makes no sense. Others have previously retired prior to 2010 and had no problem getting finalized. So what’s up with this.

  14. Frankiebpr says:

    I retired Jan 2010 and began receiving partial payment the following month, thank God I cashed in over 400 hrs of A/L which helped me financialy until my full payment received in May 2010. I think more and more employees are retiring in order to take hold of their TSP nest egg. Once I found out that the Government could legally use these funds without you knowing what has happen, I did not think twice and did a complete withdrawal. I must add that I paid dearly this decision when filing my Income Tax; but I rather have my money on my side than to find out I would have to attain to the unexpected. Yes I am a Boomer who took a head start on my retirement.

    Best of luck to those awaiting for the full retirement annuity.

  15. Agentmom007 says:

    I’M NOT SURE IF THIS IS GETTING THROUGH SINCE THERE’S ACTUALLY SOMEBODY SCREENING INPUTS TO THIS SITE.  I CAN ONLY SAY THAT IT IS A DISGRACE THAT THE RETIREMENT PROCESS IS SO CUMBERSOME AND TAKES SO LONG FOR A FINAL TRUE UP OF THE PENSION AMOUNT.  iT TOOK MONTHS FOR THIS FINAL TRUE UP AND IT SHOULD BE ACKNOWLEDGED.

  16. AGENTMOM007 says:

    WHAT A DISGRACE – I ALSO WAITED FOR SEVERAL MONTHS FOR MY FINAL PENSION ADJUSTMENT!!!  IT WAS A TEDIOUS AND BURDENSOME PROCESS THAT SHOULD BE COMPLETELY DONE ELECTRONICALLY BUT ISN’T.  FOR ANYONE RETIRING NOW, BE PREPARED.

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