Backlog grows, processing slows for OPM retirement claims in October

For the third month in a row, the Office of Personnel Management’s retirement claims backlog has ticked upward. The latest monthly report from the agency counted 19,729 claims in its inventory for October, versus 17,628 claims in September and 17,513 claims in August.

The uptick is similar to that of October 2017, when the inventory rose about 12 percent. However, year over year OPM’s retirement backlog has generally increased, as seen in the chart below. And while new retirement claims between September and October 2017 nearly flatlined, last month had a sharper increase to 9,012 claims received, or 26 percent.

October also saw fewer claims processed than in the prior month, keeping with the pattern of 2017, according to OPM’s latest report. Only 6,911 claims were processed last month compared to 7,027 claims in September.

The monthly average time needed to process claims dropped slightly in October from 64 days to 63 days. But the year-to-date average time rose to meet it, going from 59 days to 63 days as well.

The end of the year is usually a popular time for federal employees to retire, but many are waiting slightly longer to do so. OPM reported last month that the average age of retirement is steadily increasing. Currently, the average age is between 61 and 62 years old, while Massachusetts, Maryland and Delaware are home to the oldest average retirees at 63 years old.