OPM Retirement Backlog Grows by 5% in August

The OPM retirement backlog has increased for two months in a row.

After steadily declining for most of 2023, the OPM retirement backlog grew for the second straight month in August, rising by 5.3% to finish the month.

The latest data from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) show that the total backlog of retirement claims went from 17,047 at the end of July to 17,963 at the end of August, an increase of 5.3%. The OPM retirement backlog had declined every single month of 2023 when it went from 24,858 at the end of January to 16,370 at the end of June. It then reversed course in July and has now increased for two months in a row.

OPM received 7,383 new retirement claims during August and processed 6,467. It took 74 days on average to process claims.

So far in 2023, the monthly averages are as follows:

Claims ReceivedClaims ProcessedTotal Inventory

The OPM Retirement Backlog: August 2019 – August 2023

The table below shows the statistics on the OPM retirement backlog during August for the last five years. Despite increasing during July and August, the total inventory is still the second lowest number during the last five years at the end of August.

Claims ReceivedClaims ProcessedInventory
August 20237,3836,46717,963
August 20228,0328,01929,237
August 20218,9767,41228,565
August 20206,7755,83618,570
August 20198,8789,71517,576

Agency Error Rates on Retirement Applications – August 2023

Errors in retirement applications are the most common reason for causing delays in processing federal employees’ retirement applications

According to OPM, the agencies with the lowest percentages of errors on retirement applications in August were the Postal Service (9%), the Administrative Office of the US Courts (10%), and NASA (10%).

Agencies with the highest error rates in August were the State Department (43%), Environmental Protection Agency (39%), and Agriculture Department (31%).

The best way federal employees can avoid processing delays on their retirement applications is to submit “healthy” retirement applications. OPM describes a “healthy” retirement application as one that is a “complete and accurate package that does not have to be developed for missing, inaccurate, or discrepant information.”

OPM released a new guide earlier this year to help federal employees better understand the retirement application process. One of the main points of emphasis in the guide is to reduce errors on retirement application packages since these are the main culprits for processing delays. Tips include making sure all forms are signed and checking for incomplete or incorrect information.

OPM Retirement Backlog Processing Status – August 2023

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 130 days to complete.

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.