OPM retirement claims, backlog rose again in June

The backlog for federal retirement claims continues to grow after more applications filed in last month. While April and May 2019 produced record low numbers, June took a different turn as the Office of Personnel Management received more claims with less being processed.

While OPM only received 324 more claims in June than in May, the agency’s inventory of claims reached 18,501 last month, an increase of more than 1,200 to the backlog. Still, the agency was able to drop its processing time from 62 to 60 days in June.

Government officials have made attempts in the past and recently to modernize the retirements claim process to avoid the backlog issue, but have yet to find a successful alternative. According to a June report from the Government Accountability Office, the agency has yet to hit its own goals.

Others have placed blame on OPM’s unfocused approach to IT modernization, inconsistent agency leadership and persistent staffing challenges.

OPM did however receive 1,196 more claims in June 2018 than in June 2019. The partial government shutdown at the beginning of the year drove numbers up, the influx of retirement claims seems to finally be settling down this summer.

OPM said less retirement claims came from almost all of the agency’s than in previous months. The departments of Agriculture, Defense, Treasury and Homeland Security, as well as the Postal Service, showed the largest decrease in claims, all producing over 200 less claims in June than in May.

The Environmental Protection Agency was only of the only agency’s to see an increase in retirement claims in June.

Errors in claims have increased since last month for many agencies. The Commerce Department showed the highest percentage — 39% — of cases with errors. Cases with errors from NASA, EPA and USPS were all under 10%.

Government-wide, there were only 5,096 claims in June with a 16% error rate. That is 2,917 less claims than last month, but a slight increase of 1% of the cases have more errors.

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