The OPM Retirement Processing Backlog

This is a follow-up article to the author’s article on the OPM retirement processing backlog.

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
  • 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
  • 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.

Agencies can request to have John Grobe, or another of Federal Career Experts' qualified instructors, deliver a retirement or transition seminar to their employees. FCE instructors are not financial advisers and will not sell or recommend financial products to class participants. Agency Benefits Officers can contact John Grobe at to discuss schedules and costs.

About the Author

John Grobe is President of Federal Career Experts, a firm that provides pre-retirement training and seminars to a wide variety of federal agencies. FCE’s instructors are all retired federal retirement specialists who educate class participants on the ins and outs of federal retirement and benefits; there is never an attempt to influence participants to invest a certain way, or to purchase any financial products. John and FCE specialize in retirement for special category employees, such as law enforcement officers.