Retirement Backlog Slashed Nearly 10% in October

OPM successfully reduced its backlog of outstanding retirement claims in October despite more incoming claims than in the month before.

Despite more incoming claims than the month before, the Office of Personnel Management managed to reduce its backlog of outstanding retirement claims by 9.4% in October.

OPM received 8,006 during the month and processed 10,711. That was 46% more claims processed than in September (7,344). That led to lowering the retirement backlog to 26,105 total claims; still a large number to be sure, but it reverses the trend of the last several months which saw the backlog grow to its highest levels since 2013.

The end of the year is the most popular time for federal employees to retire. Consequently, January is the month in which OPM sees the greatest numbers of incoming retirement claims, frequently pushing the backlog up substantially. It behooves OPM and prospective retirees, therefore, for the agency to reduce the total retirement backlog as much as possible in the months leading up to the end of the year.

With this in mind, this is where the retirement claims backlog has stood at the end of October for the last 5 years:

October 202126,105
October 202019,605
October 201917,882
October 201819,729
October 201718,860

As can be seen, 2021 is poised to be a year in which the backlog could grow to unprecedented levels depending on how much headway OPM makes on it in the next two months and how many federal employees end up retiring at the end of the year.

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-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
*Oct-218,00610,71126,1059595
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 43 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.