The Office of Personnel Management engineered a sharp upturn in retirement claims processed during the month of September. This coincided with a static rate of new claims being received, which led to the retirement backlog dropping back toward OPM’s steady state inventory benchmark.
September saw 6,946 new retirement claims, an increase of only 128 more than in August. Meanwhile, OPM managed to process 8,134 claims, an increase of 2,088 or 35 percent more claims than in August.
This leaves the OPM backlog of retirement claims at 15,146 as of the end of September, which is comparable to, although slightly higher than September 2015, when the backlog stood at 14,706.
Both 2015 and 2016 saw a small spike of around 3,000 new claims in the month of July, followed by a September recovery.
The inventory backlog typical surges to its highest point in January, as federal employees file for retirement benefits following an end-of-year retirement. The rest of the year is spent trying to make up that backlog.
The percentage of claims processed in 60 days or less dropped from 72 in August to 64 in September. That’s the lowest it’s been since May 2015, when it stood at 45 percent. Since then, it had remained fairly steadily in the 70s and 80s.
The average number of days to process a case in 60 days or less rose to 45 in September, up from 42 in August.
Daisy Thornton is Federal News Network’s digital managing editor. In addition to her editing responsibilities, she covers federal management, workforce and technology issues. She is also the commentary editor; email her your letters to the editor and pitches for contributed bylines.