OPM Processing Delays Persist

As most recent federal retirees can attest, the processing time for retirement papers has been well above the government’s stated goal for a long time. 

Average processing times have not met the 60-day standard at any point in at least two years, according to the latest data from the Office of Personnel Management. As a result, it is more important than ever that federal employees approaching retirement plan well in advance and be financially prepared for possible delays in their annuity checks. 

The number of federal employees filing their retirement papers spiked mid-summer. In July, there were 9,487 claims received by OPM, up from 6,032 in June. And now the monthly average processing time is 92 days. 

The trend, however, is heading in the right direction. OPM also reported an uptick in the number of claims processed, from 7,935 in June to 10,706 in July. As a result, the inventory of pending claims is now at 29,224, the first time it’s been below 30,000 since December 2021. 

In March, the inventory was 36,349, the highest level in 2021-22. 

There are many reasons for slow processing times, in addition to volume and staffing levels, such as errors in the applications. Some of the most common for those in the Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS) include: SF 2821 forms were not signed by HR or payroll officials; SF 2818 forms were not signed; and applications were missing a copy of a marriage certificate for survivor annuities. 

Here is a link to OPM’s page to help federal employees plan and apply for retirement. 

The Government Accountability Office in 2017 said 31.6 percent of the entire workforce would be eligible to retire by 2022. 

NTEU will continue to urge Congress to provide OPM the resources it needs to address the current processing delays and manage the future workloads.