Feds retire in droves in January

Tuesday - 2/5/2013, 8:13pm EST

Federal employees retired in droves last month, with more than 22,000 filing retirement claims with the Office of Personnel Management at the start of the year, according to new OPM data.

That was about about 1,000 more than OPM expected.

The agency processed 12,527 retirement claims last month, also beating its projections.

In fact, that's the highest number of retirement applications OPM has processed in a single month with the exception of last September. OPM had expected to process 11,500 retirement applications in January.

Its better-than-expected processing performance helped OPM continue to chip away at the longstanding backlog of retirement claims that has long vexed the agency.

Even after the surge in retirements last month, the backlog now stands at 36,000, well below the agency's projections. At this time last year, the backlog clocked in at 61,108 claims. Overall, OPM has cut the backlog by nearly 41 percent since last January.

OPM expects to continue processing 11,500 claims a month for the next several months. By September, OPM aims to have the backlog all but eliminated and to begin processing 90 percent of new retirement claims within 60 days.

The HR agency's retirement-processing efforts came under scrutiny two years ago as increasing numbers of federal retirees complained of growing wait times for their retirement applications to be processed and to receive a full annuity.

Last January, OPM Director John Berry overhauled retirement-processing efforts with a slate of new hires, expanded works hours and revamped technology.

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