FedSmith.com Users Unimpressed with OPM’s Retirement Processing

We recently asked our users who are recent retirees what their experience has been like with getting their applications processed by OPM. While some users reported a positive experience, the results indicated an overall dissatisfaction with the process.

We recently asked our users who are recent retirees what their experience has been like with getting their applications processed by OPM. While some users reported a positive experience, the results indicated a general dissatisfaction with the process overall.

We took a similar informal survey of our users back in August which showed that over half of respondents who were under FERS were still waiting on on their payments, whereas CSRS retirees were doing a little bit better.

Results this time around don’t look very impressive for either group. Here’s how the responses broke down:

Have you received your full annuity payment yet?
No 65.9% No 67.4%
Yes 34.1% Yes 34.2%


Have you noticed an improvement in processing and/or correspondence with OPM as the backlog has been reduced?
No 41.5% No 53.5%
Yes 12.2% Yes 25.6%
Not Sure 46.3% Not Sure 20.9%

OPM has been gradually reducing its backlog of retirement processing applications throughout this year, although as of last count, there are still over 31,000 outstanding applications.

Some respondents submitted comments about their experience. A sampling of these from both FERS and CSRS retirees are included below. Feel free to share your thoughts about your own experience in the comments at the end of the article.
FERS Comments

  • I had problems with my HBI change. I ended up in the hospital on 02/02/2012 without proof of insurance because I changed plans and had to wait until OPM processed my paperwork. When I called OPM after my discharge, I was advised to use a credit card to pay the charges. Who has a credit card to cover inpatient care along with charges from physicians and technicians who performed an MRI and a CT scan and lab work? I didn’t receive my new proof of insurance card until after the middle of February. I was so stressed out because I was receiving bills from all of the providers and the hospital, which was over $44,000 alone for one night. Only after I kept calling OPM, an examiner decided to expedite my paperwork. Retirees shouldn’t have to go through this whether or not it’s an emergency. Retirees shouldn’t have to wait for OPM to process their HBI change. If I wouldn’t have continued to call OPM, I probably would have had to wait longer to get proof of medical coverage.
  • I had heard horror stories, but I only received three “estimated” payments before the correct amount was sent to me, and the “catch-up” for the shortfall arrived 10/15/12, so I was made whole very quickly. I thought the process went very smoothly.
  • It took OPM 11 months to complete my retirement. Calls to OPM, Denver HROC, etc. it was a stressful situation.
  • 8 months later and I am still only receiving about 25% interim payment.My bank account is almost gone. I don’t know any other retirees that have had any problems.
  • Last month I received a call from OPM indicating that they were now working on my file. The employee was polite, kind and sounded competent. While I’d like to have my retirement pay finalized by now, I know he wasn’t the problem, and I thanked him for his care in attending to my case.
  • I changed my life insurance when I retired. OPM lost my letter of instruction. I sent it again. Then they failed to get it right. It took awhile, as it takes forever to get through on the phone, but they finally got the amount correct and paid me retroactively.
  • Retirement processed 5 months to the day after retirement. Totally Unsatisfactory!

CSRS Comments

  • OPM is doing a great job w/backlog and not enough employees, worked with them on a daily basis when I was working. They are great people give them credit.
  • I have used the retirement services web site to follow the status of the OPM’s work on my application. It always gave me the current status and OPM’s communications and actions were timely.
  • There is no communication. I call regularly. When I do find a person to talk to they will not give me any information. I visited the walk site in early December. I was told that they were waiting for information that was requested on November 8. This will take another 60 days. As you can guess. When I see your reports that OPM is speeding up the processing time. I think they are not telling the truth
  • Have not even recieved a phone call. This is seriously screwed up. and archaic. Making me a nervous wreck.
  • I paid a deposit for past service to add to my annuity in June 2010, per information supplied by OPM. That has yet to be processed or added to my monthly annuity payment. I can never get anyone by phone or email that can answer any questions as to why it is taking so long for such a small adjustment. OPM is doing a horrible job in my opinion, giving me the classic government run around and total neglect.
  • After nine months, I received a cute book, however, the calculations were wrong. I sent a letter of dispute and received only the postal delivery slip. No response has been forthcoming. Our government at work? Is this the best we can do?
  • I think they are doing a good job. They are being bombarded by everything as are all federal workers. Do more with much, much less.

About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of FedSmith.com. He has over 20 years of combined experience in media and government services, having worked at two government contracting firms and an online news and web development company prior to his current role at FedSmith.