OPM Backlog

The backlog of pending retirement claims in OPM’s inventory hit its lowest point of the year – but the end-of-year surge is looming.

There is typical pattern that repeats when it comes to federal retirement claims that are pending in the Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM) inventory. Because of factors such as annual leave accrual, it is a well-known fact that the end of the year is one of the best times to retire from civilian federal service. This results in a spike of retirement applications during the months of December, January, and February. Along with incoming retiring claims, OPM works throughout the year to process these applications and usually dwindles their to-do pile to its lowest levels around the autumn months.

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2022 has not strayed from the expected pattern. The inventory of pending federal retirement claim applications was 23,849 at the end of November, which is the smallest amount for the current year. At the end of October, the number of backlogged retirement packets was 25,227 – a monthly drop of 5.5%. Halfway through the year, at the end of June, the backlog sat at 30,443. During the first eleven months of 2022, OPM received 97,329 new applications and had completed 100,210.

Processing Time

The per-month average processing time for a claim submission has increase noticeably since the springtime, though – increasing from an 80-day average to a 92-day average. As of November 30th, the 2022 average time for a retirement packet to complete the process was 91 days. This delay between submission and approval is significant because newly retired feds will only receive a fraction of their estimated benefits in this timeframe. Although they’ll eventually get reimbursed for due amount, there is a still a significant gap of time between submitting one’s retirement application and having that packet successfully processed by OPM.

But filling out the retirement claim forms correctly drastically improves a retirement packet’s chances of getting processed quickly. The goal OPM sets for itself regarding processing time is 60 days per claim. For submissions that are error-free and don’t require additional detail, the completion time is usually much quicker. Claims that take more than 60 days to complete have an average processing time of 126 days, but with packets that take less than 60 days to process, that same average is just 40 days. Additional information might be need from either the retiree, their employing agency, or the Social Security Administration.

The three most common errors than can delay a retirement claim submission are:

  • Incorrect Service Dates
  • Missing Signatures
  • Lack of proof for FEHB eligibility (5-year rule)


Until Next Time,

Benefits Ben, STWS

**Written by Benjamin Derge, Financial Planner, ChFEBC℠ The information has been obtained from sources considered reliable but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete. Any opinions are those of Benjamin Derge and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James. Links are being provided for information purposes only. Expressions of opinion are as of this date and are subject to change without notice. Raymond James is not affiliated with and does not endorse, authorize, or sponsor any of the listed websites or their respective sponsors.

OPM Backlog

OPM Backlog Processing Time