OPM Retirement Backlog Soars to Another New High in January

The OPM retirement backlog reached another new high in January 2022.

The OPM retirement backlog has topped the 30,000 mark thanks to the typical flood of federal employees retiring at the end of the year.

The Office of Personnel Management received 13,266 new federal employee retirement claims in January 2022. The total backlog now stands at 31,307, a 17% increase over last month when it closed 2021 at 26,730. This is the highest the backlog has been since 2013.

OPM was able to process 8,689 retirement claims last month which was the most processed in a month since last October when it processed a little over 10,000. However, the average monthly processing time in January was 94 days which was the highest that figure has been since last October.

January 2022 OPM Retirement Backlog vs. Other Years

Although the total backlog the highest it has been in almost a decade, how does January 2022 compare with past years?

The table below shows the total number of federal employee retirement claims received in the month of January as well as the number processed and where the backlog stood going back to 2016.

2022 has the highest total backlog, but one of the lowest numbers of incoming retirement claims to start the year, meaning fewer federal employees retired at beginning of this year than in past years.

Claims ReceivedClaims ProcessedInventory
January 202213,2668,68931,307
January 202113,8506,56926,968
January 202017,13410,05923,983
January 201913,2648,16223,121
January 201814,5908,63820,467
January 201715,3177,32723,087
January 201615,4237,06119,761
Average14,6928,07224,099

For federal employees who have recently retired, a higher OPM retirement backlog means they might be waiting longer to have their applications processed. OPM provides an interim estimated annuity payment until the application is fully processed after which time a full annuity payment then begins to be issued. For details, see OPM’s retirement FAQs.

Did you retire recently? Have you encountered any delays with getting your application processed? Feel free to share your experience in the comments at the end of the article.

OPM Retirement Processing Status – January 2022

The latest complete data from OPM 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
Nov-218,2668,01026,3617988
Dec-217,5697,20026,7309289
*Jan-2213,2668,68931,3079490

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 49 days to complete; whereas cases that were produced in more than 60 days, on average, took 113 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.