Decline in processed claims inflates OPM’s retirement backlog

The Office of Personnel Management lost ground in processing its retirement backlog in October, primarily due to a slowdown in the number of claims OPM processed.

The total inventory of backlogged retirement claims rose by about 2,000, leaving OPM nearly 6,000 claims away from its self-ascribed “steady state” of 13,000.

The number of claims OPM received was almost static between October and September; it rose by only 40 claims. The reason for the increase in backlog is that OPM only managed to process 6,818. That’s 2,032 fewer claims than OPM received in October, and 2,289 fewer than it was able to process in September.

OPM also processed fewer claims in 60 days or less. Only 59 percent were processed within that time period, down from 65 percent in September. However, those cases were processed in an average of 44 days, an improvement of one day since September.

Of those cases that took longer than 60 days to process, the average number of days it took was 93, which is the same as September.

OPM ran into roughly the same circumstances in 2016 — while the number of retirement claims it received rose negligibly, it was unable to process as many as it had the previous month, resulting in an increased backlog.