OPM chips away at retirement claims logjam

Backlog is down 19 percent since January.

The backlog of federal retirement claims is down 19 percent since January, according to the latest numbers from the Office of Personnel Management.

OPM reported a backlog of 49,473 retirement claims in May, a 19 percent decrease from January, when the pileup stood at 61,108 claims. The agency received 477 fewer retirement claims in May than projected, which likely helped it chip away at the backlog.

Even so, OPM received more new claims in May than it has since January. The agency reported 7,523 submitted applications last month, 907 more than in April.

The agency processed 9,066 total claims in May, exceeding its target of 8,500 claims.

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 to get rid of the claims backlog within 18 months and to reduce processing times so that 90 percent of claims are administered within two months of receipt.

Lawmakers asked OPM in February to report monthly on the status of the backlog.