Retirement claims backlog hits highest point in 4 years after February surge

The Office of Personnel Management’s retirement claims backlog hit its highest point in at least four years after an unusually large February surge. Last month, 13,290 federal employees filed for retirement, the highest number of claims in a February since 2013.

February usually sees the second highest number of claims after January; this smaller surge usually produces the highest backlog of the year. This year, February saw only 1,300 claims less than January, an unusually small gap.

Currently, the retirement claims backlog stands at 24,225, the highest it’s been since at least January 2014. The only other time in the past four years that it’s topped 24,000 was February 2015, when it hit 24,014.

The current backlog is more 11,000 claims higher than what OPM refers to as its “steady state inventory” of 13,000.

OPM did manage to process 9,532 claims in February, improving on January by nearly 900. That’s not quite as much progress as they made in December, when processed claims exceeded 10,000, but it’s significantly more progress than OPM made in most months in 2017.

But this high rate of retirement did not adversely affect turnaround rate. In fact, OPM managed to improve the speed in which cases were processed. In February, OPM processed 76 percent of claims in 60 days or less, a 20 percent increase over January. And the average number of days those cases took was 27, down from 35 in January and the lowest it’s been since 2014.