Retirement checks unaffected by Sandy

Crews work to fix damage in Philadelphia after the storm. Crews work to fix damage in Philadelphia after the storm. Matt Slocum/AP

The severe weather along the East Coast has not mucked up federal retirement claims processing, according to Office of Personnel Management officials.

“We do not expect any interruption in retirement claims process and the call center remains open,” said an OPM spokeswoman. The agency’s claims processing facility is in Boyers, Pa., in Western Pennsylvania’s Butler County. The spokeswoman also said retirement checks will continue to be issued without interruption.

Laurence Kelly Davis, an OPM customer service specialist in Boyers who teleworks, said facility operations were running smoothly as far as he could tell. He said the Boyers area experienced heavy winds and downed trees; some OPM training classes also were canceled because of the major weather event that began as Hurricane Sandy and morphed into an unprecedented storm affecting millions of people along the Eastern Seaboard. “We actually had an 80-foot pine fall on the house,” Davis said of his property.

An automated message notifies callers who dial into the 888-767-6738 number for retirement services that they can expect extended wait times and/or unintended disconnections due to the severe weather. This reporter did not wait long to talk to a service representative, but the line went dead after a five-minute conversation. OPM is encouraging those interested in checking on the status of their retirement applications or other retirement-related documentation to go online.

The storm also did not disrupt federal payroll operations administered by the National Finance Center or the Defense Finance and Accounting Service. DFAS and NFC provide payroll for much of the federal workforce.

Retirement claims surged in September, adding to a backlog that OPM is slowly but steadily shrinking. The agency received 11,952 new claims in September, 4,952 more than it anticipated, and 2,979 more than it received in August. But OPM completed 12,563 retirement claims in September -- the most claims processed in a single month so far this year and 1,063 more than it expected to complete last month. The backlog now stands at 41,176 claims, down 33 percent since January.

Despite that success, many federal retirees still wait several months for their applications to be fully processed.

OPM administers benefits for 2.5 million federal retirees and processes about 100,000 new claims annually.

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