FedSmith.com Users Still Gloomy About OPM’s Retirement Processing

Results of our recent survey indicate some improvement in the sentiment among our recently retired users about how OPM is handling their applications, but the frustration is still palpable.

As we have been reporting for some time now, OPM is currently experiencing a substantial backlog of outstanding retirement claims. The backlog is gradually being reduced, but, as of the time of this writing, there are still over 20,000 outstanding claims waiting to be processed.

At the end of last year, we asked our users about their experience in dealing with OPM for their retirement applications. The feedback wasn’t exactly stellar with many recent retirees reporting at that time that they hadn’t received their full annuity payments or seen an improvement with OPM’s processing or correspondence.

As the backlog of applications continues to be slowly reduced, we were curious to know if our users had noticed an improvement in the processing status of their applications. The results from our latest survey show an overall improvement (albeit a small one) in users’ experiences.

60% of respondents to our latest survey retired under CSRS and 40% under FERS. 70% of CSRS retirees said they have received their full annuity payment while only 52% of the FERS retirees had received theirs.

The respondents who have not yet received their full annuity payments have been waiting as much as three years to as little as only a month or two. Not surprisingly, these individuals were more likely to report that they haven’t noticed an improvement in how OPM is handling the applications (60% said they have seen no improvement).

However, all respondents were more negative than positive on OPM’s performance: 38% of all respondents said they have not seen an improvement in how OPM is handling the applications versus 22% who had (another 40% weren’t sure if there has been an improvement). At the end of last year, 48% of all respondents said they had seen no improvement and 32% were not sure.

Comments from respondents were about as varied as the responses on the other questions. A few randomly selected ones are included below:

  • They actually overpaid me the first 7 months. I called, I wrote, I emailed from the very first payment…….then the day I got the right amount it was an OPM EMERGENCY to repay them. Which I did but they absolutely refused to list to me when I repeatedly told them they were over paying me. Very odd
  • i have had two other co-workers retire and CSRS applications are finalized much quicker than FERS applications. I am very satisfied with OPM’s service of my application.
  • I retired on Dec 31, 2012. I was pleasantly surprised when my full annuity and all the back funds arrived on May 1, 2013. I was fully expecting a 6 to 7 month wait and budgeted accordingly. OPM rocks!
  • The process was slick as a whistle and I was very surprised, as I was an end of year retiree.
  • Horrible-have talked with no one @opm. won’t answer phone-no way to email. assigned to specialist 3-25-13- no money. have already spent $14,000 of my savings. money running out. have been to sen rockefeller 4x. sending partial payments of 1,049 a month. can u live on $12,600 a year. utilities, home, car, , ins. gas, food, medicine ($2,300 out of pocket yr.) worst experience of my life.
  • It would be logical for OPM to finalize the simplest claims immediately (thereby decreasing the pending number of claims sooner), but OPM’s methods defy logic. I hope my claim is finalized during my lifetime.
  • I have received a annual retirement computation. Have not received my VSIP. I have been told it will take up to 8 months to get it complete. The first check could take six to eight weeks then longer to get the a mount correct. It is a shame it takes this long. I am very dissatisfied.
  • I had the benefit of spending most of my career with the Postal Service which is light years ahead of most agencies in terms of automated payroll records which make it easy for OPM to process the annuity calculation.
  • 9 months and they still haven’t got mine straight even though they had already closed my file. They weren’t too happy to reopen it either. These people are next to impossible to reach( right on par with The Wizard Of Oz). When the woman who handled mine finally called me back I had to pry every morsel of information out of her and it was clear she didn’t want to reopen my file and had no information present to answer the question of why my Soc Sec Supplement went down with the addition of 5 more years of service they had previously missed. My initial contact at OPM made the comment “well most people don’t make that much” and shut right up when I asked her “based on what figures”. The whole tale is actually stranger than what I just mentioned but you surely get the idea. All I can say is the advice I was given. Make sure you take plenty out of your TSP the first year.in case of problems and KEEP ALL YOUR RECORDS of breaks in service, especially repayments and such.
  • Extremely difficult to get through to a ‘real person’ regarding questions as to when I may expect my full payment. Very frustrating that it took 8 months finalize…and I worked for the same federal agency my entire 22 years of federal service! OPM definitely needs to improve their processes.

Our thanks to those of you who took the time to respond to the survey and share your feedback. We wish all of our users who have retired the best of luck with the process!

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.