The Office of Personnel Management took advantage of the lowest number of new retirement claims since December 2016 to reduce its backlog by nearly 3,000 claims. OPM’s retirement backlog currently sits at 16,140 claims, the lowest number yet in 2017.
OPM processed roughly the same amount of claims in May as it did in April, improving by 161 claims for a total of 8,340 last month. In addition to that, OPM received only 5,548 new claims, a drop of more than 1,000. That allowed the agency to reduce its overall backlog by 14.7 percent.
Compared to May 2016, OPM received 23 percent fewer claims, and processed 8.4 percent more.
An improvement in the speed of processing also contributed to reducing the backlog. In April 2017, OPM only managed to process 27 percent of its claims in 60 days or less. In May, that number rose to 44 percent. The average number of days it took to process those claims was 48, down from 51 in April. However, that’s still higher than the 38 days it took in February and March of this year.
Despite this significant progress, the backlog is still about 3,000 claims higher than OPM’s self-reported “steady state” of 13,000 unprocessed retirement claims.
The latest numbers from OPM show familiar patterns that the agency has experienced year after year. The agency sees a spike in retirement claims in January and February, as the first months of the year are typically the most popular months to retire. The January spike drives the backlog up, and OPM makes some progress working through unprocessed claims during the quieter spring months.
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.