OPM Retirement Backlog Slashed by 11% in April

The April 2023 OPM retirement backlog was reduced by over 2,500 claims.

The OPM retirement backlog was reduced by just over 2,500 claims in April 2023.

The Office of Personnel Management processed 10,839 retirement claims during the month while only 8,298 new claims came in which helped bring the OPM retirement backlog down from 22,925 at the end of March to 20,384 to finish April, a reduction of 2,541 claims (11%).

OPM processed 21% more claims in April than in March which helped reduce the total backlog.

The monthly average processing time was about the same as last month. It took OPM 70 days on average to process federal employees’ retirement claims; in March it took 69 days.

OPM’s stated goal for the backlog is 13,000, but this is a level that has not been achieved since 2015. At the end of October 2015, the OPM retirement backlog dropped to 12,642. It proceeded to go lower for the remainder of that year, but in January 2016 it jumped back up to 19,761, a whopping 71% increase, with the surge of federal employees retiring at the end of a calendar year.

How Has the OPM Retirement Backlog Fared in April?

So far in 2023, the median figure for the total backlog is 23,213; it has averaged 22,917 total claims.

The median figure for new claims received by OPM is 8,958 and the median figure for claims processed is 9,991.

The table below shows how the OPM retirement backlog has fared from April 2019 – April 2023. Relative to other years, April 2023 had an overall higher total claims backlog.

Claims ReceivedClaims ProcessedTotal Backlog
April 20238,29810,83920,384
April 20229,98311,39318,974
April 20219,41411,39625,386
April 20206,7408,11519,889
April 20196,9939,39217,802

Which Federal Agencies Have the Most Errors on Retirement Applications?

Errors on retirement applications are the most common culprit of delaying processing of federal employees’ retirement applications. Compared to last month, the percentages of cases with errors rose considerably among the agencies reported to have the most errors on retirement applications. The State Department, for instance, takes the top spot in both March and April. However, in March, it had an error rate of only 35%, but in April over half of the cases had errors.

According to OPM, these are the agencies that have the highest percentages of errors on non-disability retirement application packages:

Agencies% of Cases With Errors
Department of State53
Environmental Protection Agency46
Department of Interior41
Department of Treasury38
General Services Administration37

The same holds true for the agencies with the fewest reported errors in April. Last month, agencies with the fewest errors on retirement applications were in the single digits. This month, however, the top 5 have higher percentages of cases with errors.

These agencies collectively have the fewest retirement application errors according to data from OPM:

Agency% of Cases With Errors
United States Postal Service9
Department of Energy11
Department of Health and Human Services14
Joint Payroll Office15
National Aeronautics and Space Administration21

The governmentwide error rate was 24% as of the end of April 2023, also higher than the 18% reported in March 2023.

OPM Retirement Backlog Processing Status – April 2023

MonthClaims ReceivedClaims ProcessedInventory (Steady state goal is 13,000)Monthly Average Processing Time in DaysFYTD Average Processing Time in Days

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.