More Federal Employees Retired at End of 2019 Than in Recent Years

February 5, 2020 3:09 PM , Updated February 21, 2020 2:10 PM
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Line graph showing the trend in OPM's average processing time for retirement claims from October 2018 to January 2020

The backlog of outstanding retirement claims at the Office of Personnel Management rose by 42% in January over the prior month thanks to the typical wave of federal employees retiring at the end of a calendar year.

The number of new claims received in January jumped by 229% over the previous month (5,205 were received in December and 17,134 came in during January).

The typical end of calendar year spike in the number of retiring federal employees pushed the backlog up to 23,983, well above the low point it reached to close out 2019.

However, despite how much the number of new claims and the backlog grew, OPM was able to step up its pace of processing the retirement claims last month. It processed 10,059 during January, 50% more than it did during December and the most it went through in a month since last March.

The average number of days it took OPM to process the claims improved as well in January, going from 66 days in December to 58 days last month.

Examining OPM’s data from recent years shows that the number of federal employees retiring at the end of last year was also higher in comparison to recent prior years based on the numbers of incoming January claims. Here’s how the numbers compare:

  • January 2020: 17,134 new claims/23,983 inventory
  • January 2019: 13,264 new claims/23,121 inventory
  • January 2018: 14,590 new claims/20,467 inventory
  • January 2017: 15,317 new claims/23,087 inventory
  • January 2016: 15,423 new claims/19,761 inventory

The latest complete data from OPM are included below.

MonthClaims ReceivedClaims ProcessedInventory
(Steady state goal is 13,000)
Monthly Average Processing Time in DaysFYTD Average Processing Time in Days
Oct-189,0126,91119,7296363
Nov-187,5108,07719,1626162
Dec-185,7826,92518,0196061
Jan-1913,2648,16223,1215860
Feb-1910,79210,54323,3704657
Mar-1910,04813,21720,2015055
Apr-196,9939,39217,8025655
May-197,8778,45117,2286256
Jun-198,2016,92818,5016056
Jul-198,0008,08818,4135556
Aug-198,8789,71517,5765056
Sep-197,4567,65617,3765756
Oct-197,0446,53817,8825959
Nov-197,8227,31418,3906261
Dec-195,2056,68716,9086662
Jan-2017,13410,05923,9835861

*Disability determinations are only included in the pending number after approval.

**Pending retirement cases produced in less than 60 days, on average took 36 days to complete; whereas cases that were produced in more than 60 days, on average, took 130 days to complete.

© 2020 Ian Smith. All rights reserved. This article may not be reproduced without express written consent from Ian Smith.

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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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