Fewer new retirements in August, claims processing quickens

August saw a slight decline in the number of new retirement claims received from federal employees, but the Office of Personnel Management still reported an increase in the backlog.

The number of new claims received last month dropped from 6,819 to 6,775 while the number of claims processed also decreased, from 6,620 in July to 5,836 in August, according to monthly data from OPM.

The inventory of backlogged claims grew for the second month in a row, from 17,631 in July to 18,570 in August. It’s a clear improvement from this January’s peak of 23,983 claims, but still higher than the 17,576 backlogged claims recorded last August.

Meanwhile, OPM appears to be gaining speed in processing claims. The agency reported a dramatic drop in the monthly average processing time, from its peak of 95 days in July to 73 days in August. But that is still noticeably higher than the monthly average of 50 days recorded a year ago.

The fiscal year-to-date average processing time was unchanged at 68 days.

OPM included a footnote to its monthly data, saying “Initial retirement cases produced in less than 60 days, on average took 45 days to complete; whereas cases that were produced in more than 60 days, on average, took 118 days to complete.”

This gap has persisted throughout the pandemic. Before the average first spiked in May, processing times were fairly steady and stayed between 50-70 days.

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