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

According to OPM’s latest retirement data, the number of federal employees that retired at the end of 2019 was higher than in recent years.

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

*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.

About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of 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.