FedSmith.com Users Unimpressed with OPM's Retirement Processing

By on December 19, 2012 in Current Events, Retirement with 34 Comments

We recently asked our users who are recent retirees what their experience has been like with getting their applications processed by OPM. While some users reported a positive experience, the results indicated a general dissatisfaction with the process overall.

We took a similar informal survey of our users back in August which showed that over half of respondents who were under FERS were still waiting on on their payments, whereas CSRS retirees were doing a little bit better.

Results this time around don’t look very impressive for either group. Here’s how the responses broke down:

Have you received your full annuity payment yet?
No 65.9% No 67.4%
Yes 34.1% Yes 34.2%


Have you noticed an improvement in processing and/or correspondence with OPM as the backlog has been reduced?
No 41.5% No 53.5%
Yes 12.2% Yes 25.6%
Not Sure 46.3% Not Sure 20.9%

OPM has been gradually reducing its backlog of retirement processing applications throughout this year, although as of last count, there are still over 31,000 outstanding applications.

Some respondents submitted comments about their experience. A sampling of these from both FERS and CSRS retirees are included below. Feel free to share your thoughts about your own experience in the comments at the end of the article.
FERS Comments

  • I had problems with my HBI change. I ended up in the hospital on 02/02/2012 without proof of insurance because I changed plans and had to wait until OPM processed my paperwork. When I called OPM after my discharge, I was advised to use a credit card to pay the charges. Who has a credit card to cover inpatient care along with charges from physicians and technicians who performed an MRI and a CT scan and lab work? I didn’t receive my new proof of insurance card until after the middle of February. I was so stressed out because I was receiving bills from all of the providers and the hospital, which was over $44,000 alone for one night. Only after I kept calling OPM, an examiner decided to expedite my paperwork. Retirees shouldn’t have to go through this whether or not it’s an emergency. Retirees shouldn’t have to wait for OPM to process their HBI change. If I wouldn’t have continued to call OPM, I probably would have had to wait longer to get proof of medical coverage.
  • I had heard horror stories, but I only received three “estimated” payments before the correct amount was sent to me, and the “catch-up” for the shortfall arrived 10/15/12, so I was made whole very quickly. I thought the process went very smoothly.
  • It took OPM 11 months to complete my retirement. Calls to OPM, Denver HROC, etc. it was a stressful situation.
  • 8 months later and I am still only receiving about 25% interim payment.My bank account is almost gone. I don’t know any other retirees that have had any problems.
  • Last month I received a call from OPM indicating that they were now working on my file. The employee was polite, kind and sounded competent. While I’d like to have my retirement pay finalized by now, I know he wasn’t the problem, and I thanked him for his care in attending to my case.
  • I changed my life insurance when I retired. OPM lost my letter of instruction. I sent it again. Then they failed to get it right. It took awhile, as it takes forever to get through on the phone, but they finally got the amount correct and paid me retroactively.
  • Retirement processed 5 months to the day after retirement. Totally Unsatisfactory!

CSRS Comments

  • OPM is doing a great job w/backlog and not enough employees, worked with them on a daily basis when I was working. They are great people give them credit.
  • I have used the retirement services web site to follow the status of the OPM’s work on my application. It always gave me the current status and OPM’s communications and actions were timely.
  • There is no communication. I call regularly. When I do find a person to talk to they will not give me any information. I visited the walk site in early December. I was told that they were waiting for information that was requested on November 8. This will take another 60 days. As you can guess. When I see your reports that OPM is speeding up the processing time. I think they are not telling the truth
  • Have not even recieved a phone call. This is seriously screwed up. and archaic. Making me a nervous wreck.
  • I paid a deposit for past service to add to my annuity in June 2010, per information supplied by OPM. That has yet to be processed or added to my monthly annuity payment. I can never get anyone by phone or email that can answer any questions as to why it is taking so long for such a small adjustment. OPM is doing a horrible job in my opinion, giving me the classic government run around and total neglect.
  • After nine months, I received a cute book, however, the calculations were wrong. I sent a letter of dispute and received only the postal delivery slip. No response has been forthcoming. Our government at work? Is this the best we can do?
  • I think they are doing a good job. They are being bombarded by everything as are all federal workers. Do more with much, much less.

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


About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of FedSmith.com. He enjoys writing about current topics that affect the federal workforce. Ian also has a background in web development and does the technical work for the FedSmith.com web site and its sibling sites.

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  1. rickwalters says:

    Retirement counseling and/or guidance is nonexistent at my Veterans administration hospital.
    Our “retirement expert” will not meet with an employee unless said employee has already given notice that they plan to retire and that date is less than 30 days away. Any requests for
    guidance or help in interpreting the rules and regulations are met with a referral to a website or an article, no other assistance is offered. God how I miss our old retirement expert, she was knowledgeable, personable and always willing to help.

  2. Emmett White says:

    I’ve been retired for 14 months now and am still not receiving my full retirement. That is because the person who handled my case, at OPM, couldn’t figure out the OPM form that was given to me when I paid back my military service. It is an easy form to understand and only an idiot would have problems with it. As it stands, I’ve been receiving my benefits minus 7 years from a 38.5 year career. I can’t get any action at OPM. All they do is lie to me about how they’ll retrieve my record and call me when they get it. I’ve tried twice now with NARFE representatives who are supposed to help. After waiting 6 months, the NARFE rep I talked to couldn’t even find my case. So, I’m now into month two of the next journey with NARFE. I’m currently trying to find a lawyer who can represent me. There are plenty who represent Fed employees in disability cases, but I can’t find one who will represent retirement issues other than disability. So, I keep waiting wondering how long it will be before I get my full benefits and whether or not OPM will have to pay interest to me for their mistake.

  3. Sam says:

    It was amazing to look at the chart and see the number of claims processed dropped nearly 50% when the overtime was cut. Does that mean the processors were working 80 hour weeks? Or was there a childish work slowdown when they lost their overtime pay? Sounds like a self-fulfilling prophecy….keep the backlog high, get overtime pay!

  4. Mike says:

    Have been following this issue very closely to see when I should drop my retirement paperwork. I can retire in 6 years, 3 months and 25 days, and best estimate so far is that I need to submit my forms in say oh 3 years, 4 months and 18 days in order to hit paydirt on December 31, 2019! Mark twain homeboy!!!

  5. Concerned in Colorado says:

    I completed my request for a supplemental retirement under CSRS for 18 months additional OPM service in Jul 2012. It was approved in Oct 2012, but have not heard anything from OPM. I sent a letter to them about a week ago, but have heard nothing yet.

  6. Slow says:

    Its nice to see some folk’s are having luck with OPM processing retirements faster. From my perspective, I can’t understand why it could take 4-months to process a FERS non-disability retirement (actually mine isn’t done yet), it’s been 4-months since I retired, just counting the days as I wait for someone to get off their but.

    OPM’s secure emailing system is a joke, sure you will get an immediate automated response but, if you were expecting someone to actually answer your email…..Good Luck!

    • Ribs61 says:

      I’ve noticed a lot of comments with this word, “luck”. I’m glad some people have gotten lucky but it really should NOT be a matter of luck.

      Congress should be ashamed of the mess they have created. Of course they have many reasons to be ashamed.

  7. glancyfl says:

    I submitted my Service Buy Back paperwork to OPM 9 Jan 2012.  OPM confirmed to me in writing that it would take 16 months to process.  16 months – – that is incredible!

  8. deborah says:

    I submitted my Service Buy Back paperwork to OPM 9 Jan 2012 – I’m being told by OPM in writing that to expect 16 months to finalize my buy back paperwork – I am buying back 3.6 yrs fm 1977 – total of nearly 3k – which by-the-way OPM informed me that I will be incurring interest the entire time. 

    I can’t fathom their logic in any shape or form. 

  9. Jerry says:

    I retired CSRS on Dec. 19, 2012 (worked Four 10-hr days into the pay period which ended on 12/29/2012 ).
    Final Paycheck was 1/8/2013.    First interim check came on 2/1/13 and Annual Leave paid on 2/5/13.  
    The retirement paperwork  given to OPM on 1/11/13,   given to caseworker on 2/5/13 and finalized on 3/4/13.
    52 days overall (less than 2 months) I have nothing but praise for their dedicated work. I’m sure they’re doing the best they can with what they have.

  10. Ken says:

    I’m under CSRS. I retired November 30, 2012. In January 2013 and February 2013, I received interim payments. About the 2nd week of February, I received notice of the final processing of my application for retirement. It contained all of the information about what I was paid and what I was due for the interim payments months.  My finalized benefit amount matched exactly what was estimated by my agency’s  human resources department. OPM did a great job for me. I have no complaints.

  11. credit card processing says:

    I talked to were very knowledgable and helpful, readily admitting that it sounded like a mistake had been made. My claim was immediately assigned to a specialist, and I had my claim finalized and my backpay issued within 30 days of my last call. I received my first finalized payment in December. The finalized amount of my FERS benefit was exactly was HR had estimated, and the SSS was $20 less

  12. Pjkelsy says:

    I retired on 9/31/12 and still only getting 80% of my annuity.  Also talked to at least 12 people during health insurance open season to get my health insurance changed.  The last person I talked with said she would personally make the change.  Received my health insurance card and still under old, more expensive plan.  WHAT IS THE PROBLEM???  We have given years working for our agencies and when we retire we are treated this way?  Just not a good thing.  Also the people who are processing our paperwork should realize that they will be on this side some day.  Why don’t they make the system better before they are waiting for their money and changes they want made.  PLEASE hear us!

    • Tyberwoods says:

       Hi, I retired the same time from FERS 9/30/12 and I am still wanting for my first penny of retirement.  Actually you are lucky.

  13. Catlady971 says:

    wow—OPM is getting kudo’s–amazing..  I retired in Sept 2010 and in October 2010 I received an overpayment letter due to changes to time and attendance.  I have yet to this day gotten any of my paperwork letting me see what changes to my time and attendance warranted them taking the money back out of my annunity.  I got the estimated annunity for one year then it dropped suddenly to approx $400 lower.  I had the same insurance problem.  They kept paying the wrong insurance company all 2012.  I finally got to talk to somebody and I had the original paperwork when I changed it in 2010.  They just gave me a refund for the overpayment they made to the wrong insurance company.  I am sorry people but all I have had is horrible experiences with OPM.  I am glad they have gotten better. Federal employees should be treated with respect not causing health problems to get worse because they can’t seem to get their stuff together.   

  14. Barrysegel says:

    Retired 12/31/11-finally made whole the following September but effective october
    Lied to every month I called and told the next month.
    What a horror- 9 months with only 60% of what I was entitled to. My bills were due. and to add insult to injury,OPM does not pay interest on your money that they hold.
    I found the formula and calculated it in 10 minutes. It turned out that my calculation was off by $10
    Such incompetance should be a crime!

  15. IcekingZ says:

    Retired March 31, 2006. Received first check April 1st with no problems. Other retirees from my agency who retired at the same time ended up waiting for up to 7 months.

    • Hostess1953 says:

      You received your first check the day after you retired????

    • DzneeFan says:

      Not possible. Checks received on April 1st are payment for the preceding month (March). Since you were still an active employee during March, you were not entitled to an annuity on April 1st.

  16. Waitinforfri says:

    record time! Good for you, not so good for most of us.
    I have called and called to no avail. Most reps are darn right rude

  17. HappyRetirees says:

    I retired June 30th of this year (FERS). My interim payment amount was less than 20% of my estimated payment. I made several calls to OPM in October after it appeared that no correction would be forthcoming. The reps I talked to were very knowledgable and helpful, readily admitting that it sounded like a mistake had been made. My claim was immediately assigned to a specialist, and I had my claim finalized and my backpay issued within 30 days of my last call. I received my first finalized payment in December. The finalized amount of my FERS benefit was exactly was HR had estimated, and the SSS was $20 less than the estimate.

    My husband retired the same day (also FERS, different agency). His interim payment was about 70% of HR’s estimate. He had only contacted OPM to ask questions about the process. His claim was also finalized in November, with his first finalized payment in December. Probably just a coincidence, because our last names are different, but we are both very pleased with the service we received from OPM.

  18. retired and lovin it! says:

    Retired 9/3/12 and finalized in 2 months 10 days.  OPM is rocking. (CSRS)

  19. Willie says:

     Retired CSRS June 1, 2012,    leave check for AL within 2 weeks, received 65% interim pay for two months, , 90 days to receive full payment,  all went smoothly. 

  20. guest says:

    i had no problems, interim was 70% and on time, final money was right on, 4 months to finalization.  one agency, no break in service, CSRS 

  21. Waitinforfri says:

    Record time, your one of the lucky ones.  Most of us wait and wait.   I submitted my retirement package electing March 31 as my date, at the time I was out on OWCP.  All the proper documents where there as asked, even a copy of my marriage liciense! God knows why they wanted that.
    Recieved a CSA # in April.   On Oct 1, I elected to retire under CSRS.  You would think a seamless transition. Yeah right.
    I have called and called to no avail.  One rep tells me one thing, one rep another.
    The last word I got, was “maybe” April?   7 months!!!!!!!!  
    So far, I have lost my Benefeds, for no premium paid.  No word on if my Blue Cross is still there for me.
    This is a huge injustice for all of us that have served half our lifetime.

  22. Carlsbadlady says:

    Expansion of government, stealing from social security, government insurance have all caused this to happen.  I am retired and there is only so much money from taxpayers.  I really do not like this but the expansion of government has caused this to happen to us.  In addition they are taking over 700 billion out of medicare to support Obamacare.  I wanted to keep my Federal insurance when I retired but in the 90’s that was taken away and we were mandatorily put on Medicare to support that.  

  23. Pat says:

    I am due to retire in December, 2013 and I am uncomfortable looking forward to it.  It is amazing to me that the Office of Personnel Management is probably the most important bureaucracy in the Federal Government and it seems they perform supply side economics philosophy to personnel management.  The fact that they are still adjudicating retirement applications by hand makes me feel as though they have never progressed out of a 1950s mental philosophy toward work.  

  24. Sharding1952 says:

    I retired in August and and received a low interim payment in September but it was increased in October.  I started receiving my full retirement this month (December) so I really have no complaints.  In fact, I was pleasantly surprised because I had heard and read about low long it took to get your full retirement.   My retirement was relatively easy, same agency, no military time,  no break in service and CSRS.  It does seem as if OPM is decreasing their backlog.  I really appreciate that they processed mine in what I regard in a timely manner. 

  25. mamabevo says:

    OPM processed my retirement package in record time!!  I heard so many horror stories of how long it took to get payments finalized.  Thank you OPM!!!

  26. outin12 says:

    Only took 3 months. OPM did a great job! Thanks guys

  27. Sultmichael says:

    I retired in 30 Sep 2012.  I was to receive my  last 40 hour work week and my earned leave two weeks after I retired.  That worked out great. 
     I was also to receive the buyout payment also. Tthat came two weeks later. But,  When I got my LES they reduced the buyout by $6300.00 to pay back the government for the leave they paid me.  They said I was taken off the rolls and then put back on the rolls so my award (Buyout) could be paid, but  the paperwork was never resubmitted to take me back off the rolls. Or it was coded worng at DFAS?   So DFAS took out the first payment from the buyout..  I received under $13,000.00 after Deductions in all.   I called DFAS to explain the problem and to find out what was going on.  They informed me that two forms to correct the problem needed to be submitted.  They told me I had to Contact My HR and or  Army Benifits.  During that time DFAS had put in a remedy ticket to correct the problem first problem.  I had contacted Army Benifits to see what they can do.  They came back and mentioned that will submit the correct forms to correct this problem.  Two weeks later DFAS payed the $6300.00 but garnished my pay again another $4170.00.
    I was to receive $36,558.00 before deductions.  That’s leave and hours worked and buyout award.  My Deductions totaled $22,ooo.oo.    As of right the problem is still being worked.  I was informed that If I didn’t contact the Army Benifits office every two weeks the ticket wourd be closed and i would have to start all over again.  They only keep the working tickets open for 10 days and if not complete they are closed.   So  My little  nightmare for retirement is already started.  Also to let you all know.  When you retire before 62 you don’t start receiving your Supplement Retirement until your case for retirement is completed.  I don’t know if theywill  back date it or it starts when you case is completed.  We will see.   Good luck.   

    • LaborAttorney says:

      You should call them every day, not every 2 weeks.  Make yourself a pain.  That’s what they will respond to.

    • guest says:

      so how does that relate to OPM processing retirement packages?  seems like you have issues further upstream?

    • Catlady971 says:

      totally understand how you feel!!!  DFAS is just not with it and what they don’t realize is that the so called overpayments are their fault not ours.  A friend of mine just got a letter from DFAS and they said they overpaid her and she had to repay $7000.  She retired in August 2010–
      Welcome to the world of total confusion and total disappointment–