OPM’s Retirement Backlog Improves by 1% in September

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By on October 5, 2019 in Retirement with 0 Comments

Line graph showing the trend in the number of claims in OPM's retirement backlog from October 2017 to September 2019

The backlog of outstanding retirement claims at the Office of Personnel Management stayed relatively flat in September.

7,456 new claims were received during the month, and OPM processed 7,656 which brought the total backlog down to 17,376. It stood at 17,576 at the end of August, so this was a 1.1% decrease.

By way of comparison, the backlog was at 17,628 at the end of September 2018, nearly identical to this year. In September 2017, the backlog was 16,828, also not far off from the trend.

The typical trend we see is that the fall is a pretty quiet time for new retirement applications coming into OPM, but also in terms of the number that get processed, so the backlog doesn’t change all that much or maybe goes down modestly. It then spikes dramatically in January and February when the end of year retirement applications start pouring in. This past January, for example, the retirement backlog jumped up to just over 23,000.

OPM has previously defined the “steady state” of the backlog to be 13,000. According to its strategic plan for processing retirement applications, “By having no more than 13,000 claims on hand, the staff will be able to adjudicate 90 percent of all the claims covered by this plan within 60 days.”

However, the agency hasn’t hit its stated target by being at or below the 13,000 mark since December 2015 at which time the backlog stood at 11,399.

The latest complete statistics from OPM are included below.

Month Claims Received Claims Processed Inventory (Steady state goal is 13,000) Monthly

Average Processing Time in Days

FYTD Average Processing Time in Days
Oct-17 8,850 6,818 18,860 64 64
Nov-17 5,572 5,138 19,294 68 66
Dec-17 5,568 10,347 14,515 60 63
Jan-18 14,590 8,638 20,467 63 63
Feb-18 13,290 9,532 24,225 46 59
Mar-18 7,767 13,262 18,730 49 57
Apr-18 8,390 9,631 17,489 58 57
May-18 7,625 7,090 18,024 58 58
Jun-18 9,397 9,223 18,198 65 59
Jul-18 8,281 8,145 18,334 57 59
Aug-18 8,826 9,647 17,513 56 58
Sep-18 7,142 7,027 17,628 64 59
Oct-18 9,012 6,911 19,729 63 63
Nov-18 7,510 8,077 19,162 61 62
Dec-18 5,782 6,925 18,019 60 61
Jan-19 13,264 8,162 23,121 58 60
Feb-19 10,792 10,543 23,370 58 57
Mar-19 10,048 13,217 20,201 50 55
Apr-19 6,993 9,392 17,802 56 55
May-19 7,877 8,451 17,228 62 56
Jun-19 8,201 6,928 18,501 60 56
Jul-19 8,000 8,088 18,413 55 56
Aug-19 8,878 9,715 17,576 50 56
Sep-19 7,456 7,656 17,376 57 56

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Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of FedSmith.com. He enjoys writing about current topics that affect the federal workforce.

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