Federal retirement claims processing not getting any faster

Federal retirement claims processing is almost back to its pandemic peak. In August, claims took an average of two-and-a-half months — 93 days — to process, compared to 91 days in July and 78 days in June.

This is the second-highest monthly processing time since July 2020, when the average peaked at 95 days, according to the Office of Personnel Management. The fiscal year-to-date average processing time has also continued to climb since last April. In August, the FYTD average was 78 days, up from 76 in July and 68 days in August 2020.

Since the start of the pandemic, OPM has included a disclaimer with its monthly retirement reports. In their latest report the agency said initial retirement cases produced in less than 60 days took an average of 39 days to process, while cases produced in more than 60 days took an average of 111 days — almost four months.

OPM has not come back to pre-COVID levels of retirement claims processing and staffing, and like many federal agencies is still dealing with a wide swath of the workforce working remotely. This affects both OPM’s operations and the ability of others agencies to submit claims to OPM because of paper-based processes, for example.

The backlog of retirement claims is also at record levels. August saw 28,565 claims in the inventory, with 8,976 of those being new claims received, compared to 8,922 claims received in July and 6,775 new claims received a year ago.

OPM managed to process 7,412 claims in August — up from 6,920 claims processed in July and more than the 5,836 claims processed a year ago.

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