The OPM retirement backlog fell nearly 5.5% last month, from 24,858 at the end of January to 23,500 at the end of February 2023.
The Office of Personnel Management also dramatically improved processing times in February, taking just 65 days on average to process pension claims. In January, the figure was 93 days, so that’s an improvement of 30%.
OPM received 9,562 new pension claims last month, 23% fewer than in January (12,404). It processed 10,920 claims in February, allowing OPM to reduce the backlog to 23,500, a reduction of 1,358 claims from January.
Despite last month’s progress on OPM’s retirement backlog, it still remains at a higher level than it has been in recent years and is well above OPM’s stated goal of 13,000. In 2020, for example, the backlog fell to 17,432 in June, and in June 2017 it was 14,530.
February is usually the second busiest month of the year for incoming pension claims at the Personnel Administration, second only to January. However, February 2023 proved to be less busy than in some previous years in terms of incoming pension claims. The table below shows how February 2023 compares to previous years.
|Complaints received||Claim processed||Total backlog|
Which agencies have the most errors in relation to pension applications?
Errors on pension applications are the most common culprit in delaying the processing of federal employee retirement applications. According to OPM, these agencies have the highest percentage of errors on non-disability pension application packets:
|Agencies||% of cases with errors|
|Department of Health and Human Services||42|
|Ministry of Justice||32|
|Ministry of Defence||31|
|Department of Homeland Security||31|
|Ministry of Foreign Affairs||29|
These agencies have the fewest errors:
|agency||% of cases with errors|
|Social Security Administration||14|
|General service administration||7|
|United States Postal Service||7|
|Joint payroll office||6|
|National Aeronautics and Space Administration||6|
The public error rate is 21%. All figures above are as of the end of February 2023.
How can federal employees avoid processing delays on their retirement applications?
According to OPM, the best way for federal employees to avoid processing delays with their retirement applications is to make sure they submit a “sound” retirement application package. This means that the application is complete and error-free. It is also best to begin the application process as early as possible.
OPM states, “You can help reduce processing delays by submitting your application in advance and by making sure your Official Personnel File (OPF) is complete. If you submit your paperwork early, your employees and payroll offices will be in able to complete their action before your retirement date.”
OPM Retirement Backlog Processing Status – February 2023
|Month||Complaints received||Claim processed||Inventory (Steady state target is 13,000)||Monthly average processing time in days||FYTD Average processing time in days|
Disability provisions are included in the pending number after approval. Average processing time in days represents the number of days starting when OPM receives the pension application through final decision.
*Initial pension cases produced in less than 60 days, took an average of 27 days to complete; whereas cases produced in more than 60 days took an average of 135 days to complete.
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