OPM has struggled to keep pace with federal workers’ retirement claims for years.

OPM has struggled to keep pace with federal workers’ retirement claims for years. Sarah Silbiger for The Washington Post via Getty Images

OPM’s backlog of pending retirement claims ticked back up in June

The federal government’s dedicated HR agency processed around 1,300 fewer claims than it received last month, bringing its retirement backlog back above 15,000.

The Office of Personnel Management lost a small modicum of ground in its fight to reduce the backlog of pending retirement claims from federal employees as the agency’s backlog of cases inched back over 15,000.

In June, OPM received 6,919 new retirement requests from departing federal workers, a slight increase over the 6,751 claims it received the previous month. But the agency’s pace in processing those claims fell precipitously, completing only 5,614 claims last month compared to the 8,793 it processed in May.

That deficit led to OPM’s overall backlog of pending claims to climb from 14,035—an eight-year low—in May to 15,340 at the end of June. Consequently, the monthly average processing time for a retirement application ticked up four days, from 60 in May to 64 last month, though measured since the beginning of fiscal 2024, the average processing time has remained static at 61 days for four months running.

For years, OPM has struggled to keep pace with federal workers’ retirement claims, an issue attributed in large part because most of the federal government’s personnel records remain paper-based. But ahead of this year, the agency instituted a number of changes aimed at providing some short-term relief to new retirees.

The agency devoted additional resources and manpower to processing retirement claims during the annual busy season at the start of the year. And it provided the public with a more transparent view of the process, both in terms of providing a timeline of who is responsible for an application when, as well as highlighting a number of common pitfalls that retirement applicants encounter to make them easier to avoid.

As a result, even with last month’s waning processing pace, the agency is well ahead of last year’s pace, with the backlog as of the end of June remaining nearly 1,000 applications lower than the same moment in time last year, when the queue was 16,370 pending claims.