The Office of Personnel Management continued to chip away at the retirement claims backlog last month, decreasing it by 12 percent between April and May, and processing more applications than expected.
The backlog at the end of May was 14,551 claims — the lowest it has been since December 2013, when there were 12,637 applications in the queue. The agency typically receives an influx of new retirement claims at the beginning of the year on top of the current backlog. OPM also received 1,631 more new claims in May than it expected, and processed a total of 10,498 applications last month, 1,498 more claims than its projected goal.
Since January, the agency has processed a total of 50,803 retirement claims.
It is possible OPM will come close to eliminating the decades-old backlog by the end of the year; it’s only June and the backlog is already down around where it was in October and November of last year. OPM originally attempted to eliminate the backlog by the summer of 2013, but sequestration forced the agency to scale back its ambitions.
In March, a bipartisan group of senators blasted OPM for wasting taxpayer dollars by continuing to use an outdated system to process claims. The lawmakers wrote a letter to OPM Director Katherine Archuleta after The Washington Post published a scathing report on the inefficiencies of the agency’s claims processing.
Clearing up the retirement claims backlog has been an ongoing struggle for OPM and a constant source of frustration from federal retirees and members of Congress who are hearing lots of complaints from their constituents. Things appear to be looking up: The agency’s goal was to reduce the number of outstanding claims to 14,642 by May, and it beat that target by 91 claims.