Federal retirements exceed expectations for third straight month

Friday - 4/5/2013, 2:39pm EDT

For the third month in a row, the number of federal employees filing retirement claims outpaced the Office of Personnel Management's projections.

OPM received 10,183 retirement claims in March, more than double the number it expected to receive, according to new OPM data.

The unexpected March bump follows a torrent of retirements claims in February, when OPM received about 20,000 retirement applications — nearly four times what it expected.

OPM also received 22,187 claims in January. The beginning of the year typically sees a large number of federal employees retiring.

While the number of claims received in March is far fewer than either of the two preceding months, federal retirement, broadly, is still on a broad upswing. The number of claims received last month is higher than in any month in 2012 but two. Last March, OPM received about 7,000 claims.

Despite the unexpected rise in claims last month, OPM still managed to handily beat its processing goal, completing 14,684 applications when it had expected to process only 11,500 of them.

Over the past 15 months, OPM has only missed its processing goal twice. However, the number of claims received each month has generally exceeded expectations, — particularly in the last three months — which has caused the number of backlogged claims to swell.

At the end of December, OPM had cut the backlog down to a little more than 26,000. However, due to the wave of retirements so far this year, the claims backlog now stands at 36,603.

At the beginning of 2012, OPM debuted a new strategy to improve its beleaguered retirement-processing efforts. Since then, OPM has slashed the backlog by 40 percent.

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