Retirement processing times rise again at end of 2021

After a brief reprieve in November, the time to process federal retirement claims slowed again in the last month of the year. The monthly average processing time for claims in December rose to 92 days, on par with average times for August through October, after dropping to 79 days in November.

The latest retirement data from the Office of Personnel Management also showed fiscal year to date average processing times increased to 89 days in December, compared to 88 days in November. Although it’s still shorter than October’s spike, FYTD average times have not fallen below 80 days since then.

New federal retirement claims dropped in December as did the number processed. New claims came to 7,569 in December, down from 8,266 in November, while the number processed declined to 7,200 after 8,010 processed in November. The backlog rose by 369 claims to 26,730 last month, which is still more than twice OPM’s steady state goal of 13,000 claims.

Initial retirement cases produced in less than 60 days on average took 44 days to complete; whereas cases that were produced in more than 60 days on average took 114 days to complete, OPM said in its report. The agency has struggled to process claims at pre-pandemic levels, as both its own workforce and those of the agencies that feed it personnel information to process those claims have been increasingly remote.

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