OPM makes modest progress on retirement claims backlog

The Office of Personnel Management sped up its processing of federal retirement claims in September. But this only resulted in a modest reduction in its overall claims backlog, which crept up during the summer.

OPM’s inventory of unprocessed retirement claims fell to 16,828 in September, a 1.6 percent change in the agency’s backlog from August.

The agency received 8,810 new retirement claims in August, more than a 23 percent increase. However, the uptick in new monthly claims didn’t hamper OPM’s ability to process more claims. It processed 9,107 claims in September, more than a 28 percent increase over the month prior.

Despite the improvements, OPM’s backlog still remains more than 3,000 claims higher than its own “steady state” benchmark. The federal HR office had been reducing its inventory of unprocessed claims, which traditionally spike in January and February, the most popular months for federal employees to retire. In June, the agency had brought the backlog down to 14,530 claims, the lowest point of the calendar year, only to see its backlog start to rise again in July.

So far in fiscal 2017, OPM has processed 57 percent of claims within its 60-day standard timeframe, and in the month of September, the agency processed 65 percent of claims within the 60-day window.

In its monthly metrics snapshot, OPM determined that it took 93 days, on average, to process claims that took longer than its 60-day benchmark, eight days shorter than the average calculated in August. Claims processed within the 60-day window took an average of 45 days to complete.