The OPM retirement backlog remained relatively unchanged in August due to the number of claims processed and received being almost the same.
For August 2022, the number of retirement claims processed by the Office of Personnel Management was 8,019 and the number of claims received was 8,032, a difference of only 13. Consequently, the total retirement backlog did not change much last month, finishing the month of August at 29,237.
OPM also improved its speed on processing the retirement claims. The monthly average processing time in August improved by five days over July and is also the lowest it has been since April.
That is certainly good news for federal employees who may be waiting on their retirement applications to be processed, but the processing time does not look as good when looked at over a wider time period.
One possible explanation for the significant growth of the OPM retirement backlog over the last couple of years is the speed of processing the claims. This table shows the average number of days it took OPM to process retirement claims over the last five years.
|Year||Average Processing Time (Days)|
Obviously, 2022 is only through the end of August, but the figures are not that much different even when looking at the same time periods.
Presumably, the pandemic is to blame for the sharp increase in the amount of time it takes OPM to process the claims, although 2022 has seen COVID become much less of a factor now that much of the drama has subsided as compared to 2020 when it was all still new, there were no vaccines, etc.
Could telework be a factor? If OPM has more staff members working remotely, might this impact the processing time? If so, then the pandemic is still at least indirectly responsible.
It is unlikely that it would be due to the number of federal employees retiring. 2018 had more federal employees submit retirement claims than in any of the other years. The table below shows the total number of retirement claims that OPM has received through the end of August for each of the last five years.
|Year||Total Retirement Claims|
Regardless of what the cause may be, the fact remains that the OPM retirement backlog has grown over the last few years, most of which took place in 2021 and 2022.
The latest data on the retirement backlog are included below.
OPM Retirement Backlog Processing Status – August 2022
|Month||Claims Received||Claims Processed||Inventory (Steady state goal is 13,000)||Monthly Average Processing Time in Days||FYTD Average Processing Time in Days|
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 36 days to complete; whereas cases that were produced in more than 60 days, on average, took 127 days to complete.