OPM makes slow but steady progress on retirement backlog


The backlog of federal retirement claims is down 32 percent since the beginning of the year, according to the latest figures from the Office of Personnel Management.

The agency received 973 more applications in August than it expected, and processed 365 more files than its projected goal for the month. In August, OPM processed 11,865 claims and received 8,973 new claims. The backlog, one of the government’s most persistent problems for more than two decades, now stands at 41,787 claims, a 6 percent drop from July. In January, the claims queue was 61,108 pending applications.

Despite the slow and steady progress OPM has made in tackling the backlog, many federal retirees still wait several months for their applications to be fully processed. On average, it takes 156 days to process a claim, but many retirees wait much longer than that for their full annuity checks. The still-ailing economy coupled with proposals to increase the amount feds contribute to their pensions and the extended pay freeze makes the wait for timely and accurate retirement checks even more frustrating. “People think that if you work for the government, we have it good,” said a Government Executive reader who retired in December 2011 and has been receiving only partial retirement pay since March. “BOY, is the public wrong.”

The Republican Party’s policy platform, announced last week at the political convention in Tampa Bay, Fla., said the government is too bloated and that federal pay and benefits are out of whack with the private sector’s. GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney and his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, want to restructure federal compensation, and Ryan specifically has proposed extending the civilian pay freeze and increasing the amount feds contribute to their retirement benefits.

OPM administers benefits for 2.5 million federal retirees and processes about 100,000 new claims annually. Director John Berry has said eliminating the backlog is his highest priority in 2012. Earlier this year, OPM unveiled a plan that aims to get rid of the claims backlog within 18 months and to reduce processing times so that 90 percent of applications are administered within two months of receipt. While OPM so far is ahead of its projected goal -- a backlog of 12,978 claims by July 2013 -- it’s unclear the effect an influx of retirements at the end of 2012 and possible governmentwide budget cuts will have on eliminating the wait for retirement pay.

(Image via qvist/Shutterstock.com)

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.