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)||% Processed in 60 days or less (YTD)||% Processed in 60 days or less (Monthly)||Avg. # of Days to Process Case in 60 days or less||Avg. # of Days to Process Case in more than 60 days|