The backlog of retirement claims at the Office of Personnel Management climbed 3.43% higher in March and is starting to approach a milestone figure that won’t be appealing to retirees awaiting their benefits payments.
The backlog is inching towards the 30,000 mark having climbed over 27,000 last month (27,368). It moved higher thanks to a larger number of new claims coming in during March (9,664) and only 8,756 claims processed. However, the number processed was higher than in February and was also done so at a faster average pace.
The retirement backlog is now the highest it has been in the last 6 years. Since 2015, the highest the backlog got until now was 24,225 at the end of February 2018. In 2021, it has remained above 26,000 so far and has averaged 26,932 so far this year.
One might think that is because the number of new claims coming in has been higher in the first quarter of 2021 than in other recent years. Turns out that is not the case though. The numbers break out as follows:
|Year||Average Monthly Claims Received in Q1||Average Monthly Claims Processed in Q1|
As the numbers indicate, the higher backlog today is due to fewer claims being processed in Q1 2021 in comparison to past years. More new claims came in on average over the last few years but OPM was able to better keep up with the incoming applications (column 2 in the table above) which helped keep the backlog from growing as quickly.
The latest complete retirement processing statistics are included below.
|Month||Claims Received||Claims Processed||Inventory (Steady state goal is 13,000)||MonthlyAverage Processing Time in Days||FYTD Average Processing Time in Days|
*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 115 days to complete.