Why Does it Take So Long to Process Federal Employee Retirement Applications?

Why does it take so long for federal employees to get their retirement benefits? Perhaps it is the fault of the employees and the agency benefit specialists that assist in preparing the applications for retirement. OPM is offering training to improve their job performance.

FedSmith has recently published articles, and hundreds of comments from readers, about how long it takes for those retiring from the federal government to have retirement applications processed by the Office of Personnel Management and for the payments of federal retirees to be fully completed. Many readers who are retired indicate it takes a very long time for their payments to get straightened out. (See, for example, The OPM Retirement Processing Backlog; Berry to Congress: Annuity Processing Backlog is Bad, Will Get Worse; and About That OPM Retirement Processing Backlog….

Perhaps it is coincidental but the Office of Personnel Management has just issued an announcement of upcoming training on speeding up the processing of retirement applications. The purpose of the training: To eliminate errors in the retirement applications.

The message in the training announcement, perhaps intended to be a subtle one to the federal workforce, appears to be that the delays for which OPM has been largely criticized are caused by those filling out the applications rather than OPM itself.

The announcement is directed at the benefit specialists in agencies that assist in preparing the retirement applications.

For those who may have missed it, here is the information on the training seminar.

Save the Date–February 1-2

will be conducting the Retirement Application Processing Symposium
(RAPS) on February 1-2 at NIH in Bethesda, MD.  RAPS will be 2 days of
workshops focusing on preparing employees for retirement and the actual
completion of the retirement application.  The audience for these
workshops is benefit specialists who are involved in counseling
employees for retirement or preparation of the retirement application.

recent audit of retirement applications reviewed by OPM found 18% of
the applications contained errors.  These errors slow the processing and
frequently result in time consuming follow up actions with agencies and
the retirees.  Helping benefits officers to provide more complete
information to employees and to better understand the application
process will help reduce those errors.

We are planning to offer the following workshops:

  • Retirement Application Processing
  • FEGLI Basics
  • Military and Civilian Deposits
  • Government Pensions and Social Security
  • Using Retirement Estimates as a Counseling Tool

Complete workshop and registration details will be available Monday, December 19th.

About the Author

Ralph Smith has several decades of experience working with federal human resources issues. He has written extensively on a full range of human resources topics in books and newsletters and is a co-founder of two companies and several newsletters on federal human resources. Follow Ralph on Twitter: @RalphSmith47