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Fewest Federal Employees Retired in 2020 Than in Last 6 Years

How many federal employees put in their retirement papers in 2020?

2020 saw the smallest total number of federal employees file their retirement paperwork with the Office of Personnel Management since 2015.

According to the latest figures from OPM, a total of 92,088 retirement claims were filed in 2020. That is the lowest number since 2015 and significantly less than in either 2019 or 2018. Here are how the totals compare:

YearTotal Claims ReceivedTotal Claims Processed%
202092,08889,30997%
2019101,580102,691101%
2018107,612104,10897%
201795,92396,505100%
201693,71390,01596%
201597,03297,302100%

As the table above shows, OPM did a nice job of keeping its pace with the claims that came in each year, processing nearly all of them.

One might wonder, therefore, how it’s possible for OPM to process over 100% of the retirement applications received in a year? Keep in mind there is a standing backlog and has been for quite a few years now, so those years represent time periods in which the backlog got improved upon somewhat.

As things stand now, the current backlog at the end of 2020 stands at 19,687, so although these data show that the agency is generally keeping pace with incoming claims, it has no shortage of work to do to in playing catch up, even in terms of getting the backlog back down to its stated goal of 13,000.

Since January is usually the most popular month of the year for federal employees to retire, expect to see the backlog go up next month.

December 2020 was also a month when OPM made some strides against the backlog, getting it back down below 20,000.

The latest data from OPM are included below.

How big will the surge be in January? Stay tuned for my column next month!

MonthClaims ReceivedClaims ProcessedInventory (Steady state goal is 13,000)Monthly Average Processing Time in DaysFYTD Average Processing Time in Days
Oct-197,0446,53817,8825959
Nov-197,8227,31418,3906261
Dec-195,2056,68716,9086662
Jan-2017,13410,05923,9835861
Feb-209,2739,62723,6295459
Mar-206,5668,93121,2646160
Apr-206,7408,11519,8896861
May-206,6488,36018,1778364
Jun-206,5557,30017,4328165
Jul-206,8196,62017,6319568
Aug-206,7755,83618,5707368
Sep-206,2446,54018,2747369
Oct-208,3236,99219,6057777
Nov-205,8765,45920,0227476
*Dec-205,1355,47019,6877475

Disability determinations are included in the pending number after approval. 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 46 days to complete; whereas cases that were produced in more than 60 days, on average, took 111 days to complete.

About the Author

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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