OPM Retirement Backlog Drops to 8 Year Low

The OPM retirement backlog has fallen to a level not seen since 2016.

The OPM retirement backlog has dropped to its lowest level since May 2016. It has been reduced every month so far in 2024.

The total outstanding retirement claims at the Office of Personnel Management fell to 14,035 at the end of May 2024. Interestingly enough, it was exactly the same at the end of May 2016. The average of the OPM retirement claims backlog so far in 2024 is 17,470.

At the end of April, the OPM retirement backlog was 16,077, so it was reduced by 13% in May. OPM received 6,751 new retirement claims last month and processed 8,793 which is what helped drive down the total inventory.

Processing peaked in February and March this year when the total number of federal employees’ retirement claims processed by the agency exceeded 10,000 each of those months. So far in 2024, OPM has averaged 8,729 retirement claims processed each month.

On average, it took 60 days to process retirement claims. The average so far in 2024 is 58 days.

As of May 2024, OPM estimates in its retirement Quick Guide that federal retirees will get their first full annuity payments within 3-5 months of retiring. That was also the same estimate given by OPM at the end of both March and April.

The OPM Retirement Backlog: May 2020 – May 2024

The table below shows the statistics on the OPM retirement backlog during the month of May for the last five years. As the data show, May has been a favorable month for reducing the outstanding retirement claims inventory since OPM has averaged processing more of federal employees’ retirement claims than it receives.

Claims ReceivedClaims ProcessedInventory
May 20206,6488,36018,177
May 20217,6848,45124,619
May 20227,67310,26622,026
May 20236,0968,35518,125
May 20246,7518,79314,035

OPM Retirement Backlog Processing Status – May 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
April 20246,9017,64716,0776161
May 20246,7518,79314,0356061

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 37 days to complete; whereas cases that were produced in more than 60 days, on average, took 119 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.