OPM’s Retirement Backlog Grows 15% in July

By on August 5, 2016 in Retirement with 13 Comments

Image of person buried under a pile of papers holding a help sign

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) saw its retirement claims backlog grow by 15% last month thanks to an increase in the number of new claims received.

OPM received 9,238 new claims in July, almost double the number it received in June which pushed its backlog of outstanding claims up to 15,562 from where it stood the month before (13, 529). OPM processed more claims than it did in June, but it still wasn’t enough to stop the backlog from growing considerably.

The statistics for July 2016 have an uncanny resemblance to 2015. Last year, the backlog in July grew by 13%. And going back another year to 2014 shows that the numbers at that time were almost the same. In July 2014, OPM’s backlog grew over the previous month by about 10%. But perhaps what stands out the most about the historical figures is that there has consistently been an increase in July.

OPM now prints on its monthly report in the “inventory” column that “steady state is 13,000.” Presumably, this means it expects to have roughly this number of claims in the backlog at any given time, or maybe 13,000 is a goal; the report doesn’t offer an explanation so one can only speculate.

A quick look at the historical numbers will show that a backlog of “only” 13,000 would actually be quite an improvement in almost any given month. However, 13,000, at least for these latest figures, is not the average; the average for the inventory figures listed here is actually 16,301, so 13,000 would indeed be an improvement (about a 20% improvement).

Having summarized these reports for several years now and seeing how unwavering they are in their predicability, I would guess based on looking at the table below alone that we will see some modest gains on the backlog in the fall, only to see that OPM falls woefully behind again when January 2017 comes to a close and that predictable surge of applications comes pouring in after the first of the year. This past January, for example, the backlog grew by a whopping 73%.

The process reminds me of watching a rat running in a wheel. It’s an amusing exercise to watch, but the rat never makes any gains in his position despite all of the exertion.

Hopefully, all of that spinning won’t leave too many of you wondering where your annuity payment is.

 

Month Claims Received Claims Processed Inventory (Steady state is 13,000) Avg. # of Days to Process Case in 60 days or less Avg. # of Days to Process Case in more than 60 days
Oct-14 10,155 8,785 14,137 36 104
Nov-14 5,746 5,844 14,039 37 107
Dec-14 4,077 6,447 11,669 45 99
Jan-15 18,629 7,662 22,636 43 91
Feb-15 9,219 7,841 24,014 33 103
Mar-15 5,478 8,898 20,594 46 99
Apr-15 6,292 8,660 18,226 49 74
May-15 7,845 10,697 15,374 47 79
Jun-15 6,920 7,783 14,511 44 99
Jul-15 9,862 7,918 16,455 45 97
Aug-15 7,341 7,446 16,350 45 98
Sep-15 6,300 7,944 14,706 43 94
Oct-15 8,374 10,438 12,642 38 86
Nov-15 6,019 6,099 12,562 37 98
Dec-15 4,753 5,916 11,399 40 104
Jan-16 15,423 7,061 19,761 38 94
Feb-16 11,293 8,362 22,692 36 96
Mar-16 5,741 9,222 19,211 44 118
Apr-16 7,241 11,935 14,517 50 92
May-16 7,210 7,692 14,035 37 103
Jun-16 5,929 6,435 13,529 37 115
Jul-16 9,238 7,205 15,562 38 110

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

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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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