Federal retirement mostly steady in December after autumn spike, decline

This fall was a volatile period for federal retirement claims – with a noticeable spike in October and mirroring decline the month after. But December seems to have been when activity more or less calmed down, according to numbers released by the Office of Personnel Management.

The agency received 5,135 new retirement claims last month, which is a 12.6% decline compared to 5,876 new claims in November, but a 38.3% decline from the 8,323 new claims in October.

OPM also processed 5,470 claims in December — only 11 more claims than it processed in November. For comparison, 6,992 claims were processed in October, which was the highest monthly processing total since June.

The inventory of claims, or backlog, started trending down again in December with 19,687 claims. That’s after increasing in both October and November, and November’s inventory of 20,022 claims was the highest monthly total since March.

According to OPM’s numbers, the bounce in new claims and claims processing mirrored the changes in average processing times, from October to December. Last month the average processing time was 74 days, unchanged from November but lower than October’s average of 77 days. The fiscal year-to-date average last month was 75 days, down from 76 days in November and 77 days in October.

OPM included a disclaimer in the retirement report that “disability determinations are included in the pending number after approval.”

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