Full Annuity Payments – How Fast?

FedSmith.com recently polled our users to see how long it took recent retirees to receive their full annuity payments. Here are the results.

FedSmith.com recently conducted a survey of our readers which asked about recent retirements and how long it took before retirees started receiving their full (as opposed to interim) annuity payments.  The questions we asked retirees were:

  1. What was your retirement date?
  2. Are you CSRS or FERS?
  3. Have you received your full payment yet?  If so, when?

There were a total of 347 responses, 56.8% CSRS vs. 43.2% FERS. Based on comments from some respondents, feelings about how OPM is handling the retirement process were mixed as some retirees were pleased but others were very unhappy.

Received Full Payment Median Wait (months) Still Waiting Total Respondents
CSRS 121 (61.4%) 5 76 (38.6%) 197
FERS  66 (44.0%) 7 84 (56.0%) 150
Total 187 160  347


Clearly, OPM is faster at processing CSRS cases. Almost certainly the reason is calculation of the FERS annuity supplement, payable generally when the retiring employee is under 62. The average completion rate for these cases, per worker, is just 3 per day.  In contrast, they can do 8-10 CSRS claims per day. When Mr. Berry, OPM head, was asked by Congress earlier this year how this can be, he had no answer.

Unfortunately, it is only going to get worse. Despite hiring 100+ new employees during the last two years, the rate of FERS retirements continues to increase steadily. Currently, it is only 44%, but it will gradually climb until it approaches 100%.  At the same time, phased retirements will be starting, requiring more calculations!

When calculation of the supplement is so data intense, intricate, and lengthy, you may ask why doesn’t OPM simply find and purchase one of the commercial software packages dedicated to this task?  This software can, typically, do a full calculation of the supplement in just a few minutes. With the magnitude of the workload, OPM could even pay to have the selected software customized for their purposes. Why don’t they do this? I do not know.

About the Author

Robert Benson served 35 years in various Federal agencies, as both a management analyst and IT specialist. He is a graduate of Northwestern University.