OPM Retirement Backlog Slashed by 14% in March

The OPM retirement backlog fell to its lowest level since last fall at the end of March 2024.

The backlog of retirement applications at the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) was substantially reduced in March, going from 19,591 at the end of February to 16,823 at the end of March, a 14% reduction.

OPM received 7,943 retirement claims last month and processed 10,711 which was the key factor in cutting the retirement backlog. It took 55 days on average to process applications.

The OPM retirement backlog is at its lowest average level at the end of the first quarter of a year since 2020. The table below shows the average figures for retirement claims and total inventory during January – March for each of the last five years.

YearAverage Claims ReceivedAverage Claims ProcessedAverage Inventory

January through March is considered the “surge period” for new retirement applications because so many federal employees retire at the end of a calendar year.

In January, OPM received 12,997 retirement applications and another 8,794 retirement claims in February. The retirement backlog increased by 46% during January but it has declined steadily since then.

Apparently, OPM’s efforts to reduce the retirement backlog are making a difference. The backlog declined steadily throughout last year and has already returned to about the same level as of the end of October 2023.

OPM announced planning efforts last November to prepare for the annual retirement surge which included bringing more employees into its Retirement Services operations center to assist with processing retirement applications during the first quarter of the year. OPM also launched a new retirement quick guide in May 2023 to help federal employees better understand and prepare for the retirement application process.

According to OPM’s retirement quick guide, federal employees can expect the retirement application process to take 3-5 months based on current estimates as of March 2024.

OPM’s retirement guide is a short, three-page document that walks federal employees through what to expect as a retirement application is processed and benefits are determined, including helping federal employees estimate when they can expect to receive their interim and first annuity payments. It is updated periodically to reflect current estimated processing times.

OPM Retirement Backlog Processing Status – March 2024

MonthClaims ReceivedClaims ProcessedInventory (Steady state goal is 13,000)Monthly Average Processing Time in DaysFYTD Average Processing Time in Days
January 202312,4049,14224,8589390
February 20239,56210,92023,5006584
March 20238,3548,92922,9256981
April 20238,29810,83920,3847079
May 20236,0968,35518,1257178
June 20234,8546,60916,3707478
July 20237,2616,58417,0478578
August 20237,3836,46717,9637478
September 20236,7688,87915,8527077
October 20236,9246,09816,6787373
November 20235,2076,05915,8266669
December 20235,6627,19614,2926869
January 202412,9976,46720,8226668
February 20248,79410,02519,5914762
March 20247,94310,71116,8235561

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.