OPM retirement claims backlog rises ahead of 2018 spike

The Office of Personnel Management has reported a backlog of unprocessed federal employees’ retirement claims that is significantly higher than it was a year ago, just before it expects to receive a spike in new cases in 2018.

OPM’s inventory of unprocessed retirement claims rose to 19,292 in November, a 2.3 percent increase in the agency’s backlog from October, but more than a 20 percent increase compared to November 2016.

The agency received 5,572 new claims in November, more than a 37 percent decrease in the volume of claims it received in October. However, OPM was unable to chip away at its overall retirement backlog. It processed 5,138 claims in November, more than a 24 percent decrease over the month prior, when it actually received a higher volume of new claims.

OPM’s backlog stands at more than 6,000 claims beyond its own “steady state” benchmark, and traditionally sees a spike in new claims in January and February, the most popular months for federal employees to retire. The agency brought its backlog down to 14,530 claims in June, the lowest it’s been this calendar year.

So far in fiscal 2017, OPM has processed 58 percent of claims within its 60-day standard timeframe, and in the month of November, the agency processed 57 percent of claims within the 60-day window.

In its monthly metrics snapshot, OPM determined that it took 97 days, on average, to process claims that took longer than its 60-day benchmark, four days longer than the average calculated in October. Claims processed within the 60-day window took an average of 46 days to complete.