OPM’s Retirement Backlog Grows in June

The backlog of retirement claims at the Office of Personnel Management edged slightly higher in June.

June 2021 saw the smallest number of new retirement claims coming into the Office of Personnel Management during a month so far this year. Despite that, the backlog of outstanding retirement claims still increased slightly over the previous month.

The reason for the increase appears to be twofold: OPM only processed 6,884 claims in June and the average processing time was 78 days. Compare that with May in which OPM processed 8,451 claims and did so in an average of 70 days.

The total backlog now stands at 24,999, the highest it has been in the middle of the year since July 2013 (25,601) and 43% higher than it was a year ago. It has, however, come down from its peak in January when it hit 26,968.

The backlog has slowly crept upward as the number of new claims coming in exceed the number that get processed per month. Some years OPM has kept pace, others it has fallen behind. In the last five years, this is how the pace looks between January and June:

Claims ReceivedClaims ProcessedDifference
202155,37150,059-9.6%
202052,91652,392-1.0%
201957,17556,693-0.8%
201861,05957,376-6.0%
201749,91750,4841.1%

The difference has been more dramatic in 2021 so far which has driven the backlog higher. One noticeable difference this year over last year is that March and April had higher numbers of new claims coming in; those two months were 43% higher this year over 2020.

The latest retirement processing data are included below.

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
Jan-2113,8506,56926,9688578
Feb-217,4958,00326,4607778
Mar-219,6648,75627,3686976
Apr-219,41411,39625,3867175
May-217,6848,45124,6197074
*Jun-217,2646,88424,9997875
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 40 days to complete; whereas cases that were produced in more than 60 days, on average, took 107 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.