For the fourth straight month, the number of federal employees filing for retirement has outstripped the Office of Personnel Management’s expectations, according to new data released by the agency.
OPM expected to receive 7,000 retirement applications in October and actually received 8,138. While above expectations, it’s not quite the surge in applications received by last month, when OPM also expected to receive 7,000 retirement claims and actually received 11,952.
OPM also beat its projections for processing retirement claims. The agency projected it would process 11,500 applications last month but actually processed 12,228. OPM has processed more claims than expected in every month this year but one.
The better-than-expected processing performance put a big dent in the longstanding backlog of retirement claims, which dropped by 4,090 claims last month. That’s the largest drop month-to-month since February.
Overall, OPM has cut the backlog by 24,022 claims since January — a more than 39 percent drop.
The backlog now stands at 37,086 claims.
OPM expects to receive 7,000 applications both this month and next. It predicts far more — 21,000 claims — in January, when people federal employees nearing retirement flock to the exits.
If OPM continues hitting its targets, it expects the backlog, which has long plagued the agency, to be entirely wiped out by September 2013.
Francis Rose is the host of In Depth, which airs weekdays from 8-10 a.m. on 1500 AM in the Washington, D.C. metro area and online everywhere. Francis has covered all three branches of the federal government as a broadcast journalist since 1998. He joined Federal News Radio in 2006, and launched In Depth in 2008 as a daily show focused on connecting federal executives to the information they need to do their jobs better.