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Retirement Claims Backlog Falls, But Processing Rate Slows

The backlog stood at 15,374 claims at the end of May, a 16 percent reduction from April.

The retirement claims backlog continues to fall, but the rate at which the Office of Personnel Management is processing applications slowed in May, according to the latest numbers.

By the end of May, OPM had whittled the backlog to 15,374 unprocessed federal retirement claims, down from 18,226 claims in April. The agency actually received more applications last month than it expected – 7,845 new applications compared to an estimated 7,100. OPM processed 10,697 claims in May, 2,037 more than in April.

But the agency’s rate of processing dropped 4.6 percentage points between April and May. OPM processed 68 percent of retirement claims in 60 days or less last month, compared to 72.6 percent of claims during that time frame in April.

Retirement claims typically spike in January, and then settle to lower levels for the rest of the year. But OPM received 1,553 more new claims in May than in April this year.

Clearing up the retirement claims backlog has been an ongoing struggle for OPM and a constant source of frustration for federal retirees and members of Congress, who hear lots of complaints from their constituents. OPM originally attempted to eliminate the backlog by the summer of 2013, but sequestration forced the agency to scale back its ambitions.

OPM predicted it would decrease the number of claims by 4,332 between June and September to 11,042 claims, though that target seems ambitious at this point.

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