New retirement claims up in April but OPM backlog down amid coronavirus slump

A few more feds parted ways with the government last month, but still no more than they did a year ago. Numbers released this week showed the Office of Personnel Management received 6,740 new retirement claims in April, compared to 6,566 new claims in March.

By comparison, in April 2019 OPM received 6,993 new retirement claims, indicating federal employees are more motivated to stay put so far this year. The coronavirus’ halting of most economic activity nationwide has made federal work more appealing, or at least more reliable, than the private sector.

And although OPM processed fewer retirement claims in April — 8,115 — than in March — 8,931— the backlog of claims also dropped from 21,264 to 19,889 in that time.

However, OPM took longer to process claims in April. The monthly average processing times extended from 61 days to 68 days, and the fiscal year-to-date average processing time increased slightly from 60 days to 61 days, according to the new numbers.

This could be due to the ongoing maximum telework eligibility directive OPM issued to agencies back in March. Meanwhile, OPM has announced in April it was updating to help agencies hire for critical needs in response to the pandemic.