The OPM retirement backlog was slashed by 12% in September to set another six-year low point, breaking the six-year low that was previously set in June 2023.
The total OPM retirement backlog now stands at 15,852. The last time it was at that level was in December 2017 (14,515).
The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) processed 8,879 retirement claims in September 2023, 37% more than it did during August. That, combined with fewer incoming claims during the month (6,768), allowed for a significant reduction in the outstanding backlog of claims.
So far in 2023, the average number of incoming retirement claims is 7,887 and the average number OPM has processed is 8,525. The retirement backlog has ranged this year from the new low set in September (15,852) to 24,858 (January).
The monthly average processing time also improved in September, going to 70 days from 74 in August. The average so far in 2023 is 75 days.
The OPM Retirement Backlog: September 2019 – September 2023
The table below shows the statistics on the OPM retirement backlog during the month of September for the last five years. The number of retirement claims that came in during September 2023 was among the lowest in that time, and the number of claims OPM processed is among the highest.
|Claims Received||Claims Processed||Inventory|
Retirement Application Errors by Agency – September 2023
OPM reports which federal agencies collectively have the most and least errors on retirement applications during the month. The listings are for error rates for agencies with at least 15 cases reviewed during the month.
|Agency||# of Cases||% of Cases with Errors|
|DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY||221||26|
|DEPARTMENT OF LABOR – DOL||36||25|
|DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY||17||24|
|DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY – DHS||253||24|
|DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE – DOJ||161||24|
|DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE – USDA||198||23|
|DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE – All DOD||1,489||23|
|DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION||101||23|
|DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE – DOC||78||22|
|BUREAU OF THE FISCAL SERVICE – BFS (formerly BPD)||32||19|
|DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS – VA||554||17|
|DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES – DHHS||114||16|
|DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR – DOI||109||16|
|SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION – SSA||79||14|
|NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION – NASA||26||12|
|ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE OF THE US COURTS – AOUSC||71||11|
|ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY – EPA||27||11|
|GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION – GSA||23||9|
|UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE – USPS||1,451||6|
Note that the governmentwide error rate was 17% last month.
Errors in retirement applications are one of the most common causes of delays in processing. When a federal employee’s retirement application is free from errors, OPM refers to this as a “healthy” application, so to the greatest extent possible, federal employees want to avoid errors on their retirement applications to ensure their full annuity payments begin as soon as possible.
OPM Retirement Backlog Processing Status – September 2023
|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 40 days to complete; whereas cases that were produced in more than 60 days, on average, took 122 days to complete.