Retirement Backlog Climbs Over 20k in November

The retirement backlog at OPM edged slightly higher in November putting it over a milestone figure.

The backlog of outstanding retirement claims at the Office of Personnel Management closed out November at just over 20,000 according to the agency’s latest report.

OPM received 5,876 new claims during the month and processed 5,459 to put the backlog at 20,022.

The average monthly processing time improved slightly over October at 74 days. So far in 2020, it has averaged 72 days. As the report notes, “Average Processing Time in Days represents the number of days starting when OPM receives the retirement application through final adjudication.”

The current backlog is actually right about in line with where it has been over the last few years with one exception. Here are the figures for the end of November going back to 2016:

  • November 2019: 18,390
  • November 2018: 19,162
  • November 2017: 19,294
  • November 2016: 16,019

December tends to be a slower month for retirement claims and also one in which OPM tends to chip away at the backlog which is certainly beneficial considering that January is normally the busiest month for new retirement claims to hit the agency. New claims have topped the five figure mark each January dating back to 2015. This is not surprising since the end of the calendar year is often a good time for federal employees to retire.

How will things go in OPM’s retirement office to close out 2020? Stay tuned!

MonthClaims ReceivedClaims ProcessedInventory (Steady state goal is 13,000)Monthly Average Processing Time in DaysFYTD Average Processing Time in Days

Average Processing Time in Days represents the number of days starting when OPM receives the retirement application through final adjudication.

*Initial retirement cases produced in less than 60 days, on average took 47 days to complete; whereas cases that were produced in more than 60 days, on average, took 114 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.