OPM Retirement Backlog Falls to 2022 Low in November

The OPM retirement backlog has fallen to its lowest point so far in 2022 as of the end of November.

The OPM retirement backlog fell again in November. It now stands at its lowest point so far in 2022.

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) received 6,604 new retirement claims in November and processed 7,442 during the month. That brought the total retirement backlog down from 25,227 at the end of October to 23,849, a reduction of 5.5%. Last month, the OPM retirement backlog was reduced by 5.3%.

All of this is good news heading into the end of the year since that is the busiest time for federal employees to retire. The OPM retirement backlog normally jumps sharply in January and February with the end of year retirement applications pouring into the agency.

What Were the Best Months in 2022 for the OPM Retirement Backlog?

The OPM retirement backlog has been at its highest levels in quite some time this year. In March for instance it reached levels not seen in nearly a decade. It peaked for the year at 36,349 total claims that month.

However, despite the growth early in 2022, OPM has made considerable headway in reducing it in the latter part of the year. These are the months when the most retirement claims were processed in 2022:

MonthClaims ProcessedAverage Monthly Processing Time (Days)
April 202211,39380
May 202210,26688
July 202210,70692
September 202210,68192

So far in 2022, OPM has processed a total of 100,210 retirement claims from federal employees. The agency received 97,329 new retirement claims.

How Does November 2022 Compare to Past Years?

MonthClaims ReceivedClaims ProcessedInventory
November 20226,0647,44223,849
November 20218,2668,01026,361
November 20205,8765,45920,022
November 20197,8227,31418,390
November 20187,5108,07719,162
November 20175,5725,13819,294

OPM Retirement Backlog Processing Status – November 2022

MonthClaims ReceivedClaims ProcessedInventory (Steady state goal is 13,000)Monthly Average Processing Time in DaysFYTD 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 40 days to complete; whereas cases that were produced in more than 60 days, on average, took 126 days to complete.

How Long Does it Take OPM to Process Retirement Claims?

OPM says on its website that it aims to process federal employees’ retirement applications within 60 days. With a backlog this big though, it stands to reason that some new federal retirees will be waiting longer, and indeed, comments from FedSmith readers indicate this is what has happened to them.

This is an answer to one of the frequently asked questions from OPM’s website:

Retirement Services strives to complete retirement claims within sixty days. If we need additional information from you or your former employing agency, however, your claim could take longer to process. It may take more time than average if, for example, your retirement claim has special circumstances (e.g. applying a specific retirement law, evaluating a court order, etc.) It may also take more time if we need to contact you to make a benefit election (e.g. a service credit deposit), or your former employing agency for additional information, or another agency such as the Social Security Administration, if a benefit from them impacts your claim. 

What Can Federal Employees Do to Speed Up the Retirement Application Process?

According to OPM, the best ways for federal employees to speed up their retirement application processing is by submitting their retirement application packages earlier and making sure everything is completed correctly. This is another FAQ from OPM’s website:

You can help reduce delays in processing by submitting your application in advance and by making sure your Official Personnel Folder (OPF) is complete. If you submit your paperwork early, your personnel and payroll offices will be able to complete their action before your retirement date.

Common OPM Retirement Application Errors and How to Avoid Them

Any errors federal employees make on their OPM retirement application packages will just slow the process down even further, so it is important to avoid any mistakes.

OPM has listed some of the most common errors that it finds on federal employees’ retirement application forms for both the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) and the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS). Among them are inaccurate service dates, missing signatures, or lack of proof for the FEHB five year requirement heading into retirement.

These articles provide more information on common mistakes that show up on OPM retirement application forms and how federal employees planning to retire soon can avoid making them:

About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of FedSmith.com. He has over 20 years of combined experience in media and government services, having worked at two government contracting firms and an online news and web development company prior to his current role at FedSmith.