Despite Fewer Incoming Claims, Retirement Backlog Grows Again in September

The retirement backlog at OPM continued to grow to another new high in September.

The backlog of outstanding retirement claims at the Office of Personnel Management grew yet again in September despite far fewer new retirement claims received than in the prior month.

OPM received 7,589 new claims in September, 15% less than the number received during August (8,976). Despite that, only 7,344 were processed, approximately 1% fewer than had been processed during August. This helped drive the total backlog up to 28,810, .86% higher than where it finished in August.

The total backlog is the highest that it has been since 2013 when it sometimes topped 30,000 and even 40,000.

Another factor that likely helped increase the backlog in September was the total case processing time. OPM reported that it took 94 days on average to to process an application, the highest that statistic has been all year so far. As OPM notes, this figure “represents the number of days starting when OPM receives the retirement application through final adjudication.”

So far in 2021, the monthly average processing time has averaged 81 days.

More Federal Employees Retiring in 2021

As I noted in my article last month, more federal employees have retired on average so far in 2021 than in prior recent years. That trend has continued with September’s data.

These are the monthly averages:

YearAverage Monthly Claims Received
2021 (so far)8,984
20207,674
20198,465
20188,968
20177,994

The latest retirement 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
Jul-218,9226,92027,0019176
Aug-218,9767,41228,5659378
*Sep-217,5897,34428,8109479
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 39 days to complete; whereas cases that were produced in more than 60 days, on average, took 112 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.