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The Office of Personnel Management processed more retirement claims in September than in August, after receiving thousands more applications last month.
OPM completed 12,563 retirement claims in September -- the most claims processed in a single month so far this year and 1,063 more than it expected to complete last month. The agency received 11,952 new claims in September, 4,952 more than it anticipated, and 2,979 more than it received in August. The backlog now stands at 41,176 claims, down 33 percent since January.
A growing influx of new retirement claims this past summer, however, has slowed OPM’s progress in tackling the backlog. The current inventory is down just 1.4 percent since August, partly because OPM received more new retirement applications in September than it has since January when it was hit with 21,479 new claims. Still, the agency is slightly ahead of its backlog projections: OPM estimated an inventory of 42,978 as of September.
Despite the slow and steady progress OPM has made tackling the backlog, many federal retirees still wait several months for their applications to be fully processed. On average, it takes 156 days to process a claim, but many retirees wait much longer than that for their full annuity checks.
After the influx of claims in January, the number of applications filed this year started to increase steadily in May. Since the beginning of 2012, OPM has received 86,676 new retirement claims. In the last nine months, the agency has processed a total of 93,878 retirement claims. During fiscal 2011, the agency processed 82,837 applications.
OPM administers benefits for 2.5 million federal retirees and processes about 100,000 new claims annually.