The retirement claims backlog was down 21 percent in March from February, but the government still has nearly 6,000 more applications to process now than it did in December 2013.
As of the end of March, the Office of Personnel Management had a backlog of 18,573 retirement claims, after receiving 29,408 new applications in January and February. Many federal employees typically file their retirement applications at the beginning of the new year. At the end of 2013, the backlog stood at 12,637 claims.
The agency received 6,831 new claims in March – 431 more than it expected. But it managed to process 11,812 applications last month, 1,412 more than it projected. Clearing up the retirement claims backlog has been an ongoing struggle for OPM and a constant source of frustration from federal retirees and members of Congress who are hearing lots of complaints from their constituents. 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. OPM initially wanted to eliminate the backlog by summer 2013, but was forced to push back its timetable because of sequestration.
A bipartisan group of senators late last month blasted OPM for wasting taxpayer dollars by continuing to use an outdated system to process claims. The lawmakers wrote a letter to OPM Director Katherine Archuleta after The Washington Post published a scathing report on the inefficiencies of the agency’s claims processing.