The Office of Personnel Management has made some progress in working through the spike in retirement claims it saw earlier this year. However, the agency still has a higher overall backlog in claims than it did a year ago.
OPM saw 7,216 new retirement claims filed in March, more than a 20 percent decrease from the spike in claims reported in February, when its retirement claims backlog hit its highest point since October 2015. The agency processed 10,602 claims last month, almost 28 percent more than it was able to process in February.
OPM received nearly 1,500 more claims in March 2017 than it did in March 2016, though the numbers don’t quite validate predictions that the presidential transition would trigger an outsized number of federal retirements in the first few months of 2017. OPM received 5,741 claims in February 2016.
With the uptick in claims processed, OPM drove down its claims backlog by more than 14 percent in March, although the backlog remains nearly 7 percent higher than it was in March 2016. At 20,530 claims, the backlog stays above OPM’s steady-state benchmark of 13,000 claims. However, OPM will likely spend the rest of the calendar year driving down its retirement claims backlog, when fewer new claims are filed.
At this point in fiscal 2017, OPM has processed 61 percent of its claims in 60 days or less, compared to 82 percent in March 2016. Of those claims processed within that 60-day window, it took OPM an average of 38 days to process. Claims beyond that window took an average of 105 days to process.