Thousands of federal employees filed for retirement in February, increasing the claims backlog at the Office of Personnel Management.
More than 12,000 feds submitted retirement claims to OPM last month, down from the 17,000 claims it received in January. Federal workers typically retire in droves at the beginning of each calendar year, and more than 20,000 did so in February 2013. Still, OPM had expected to receive only 9,800 claims in February 2014.
The backlog of outstanding claims jumped to 23,554 in February from 21,296 claims in January. OPM processed 9,767 applications last month, completing 1,000 more claims in February than it did in January.
OPM has moved the goalposts for eliminating the backlog, decreasing the number of claims it expects to process while increasing its projected backlog. The agency now hopes to reduce the number of outstanding claims to 14,642 by May, about 1,500 more than it had hoped to have left by then. The federal government’s human resources agency hoped to reduce the backlog to a “consistent workload” by March, but the number of unfinished applications has ballooned to its highest total since last July. OPM initially wanted to eliminate the backlog by summer 2013, but was forced to push back its timetable because of sequestration.