Despite rise in retirement claims, OPM remains on course in cutting backlog

Tuesday - 8/5/2014, 3:05pm EDT

The Office of Personnel Management remains on course in reducing its retirement claims backlog, despite receiving more claims than projected for July.

The agency received 9,101 retirement claims — about 1,000 more than it had projected for the month, according to data OPM released Tuesday.

By the end of July, the inventory of retirement claims totaled 13,620. The July number is lower than OPM's projected inventory of 14,442 claims, but up from the inventory at the end of June, which was 12,391 claims.

OPM's total inventory of claims is down about 10,000 from the 2014 high in February. That month, the inventory reached more than 23,500 claims. OPM typically receives the largest influx of claims in January.

In July, OPM was able to process 77.9 percent of the claims it received within 60 days or less. The agency began to measure this benchmark in May 2014. Its goal is to process 90 percent of its claims in 60 days or less.

"Customer service and ensuring a streamlined application process remain a priority, and we will continue to focus on process improvements, including work with other agencies to eliminate common errors," an OPM spokesperson told Federal News Radio. "OPM is fully committed to creating a retirement system which is even more responsive to the needs of federal retirees."

Although nearly 80 percent of claims were processed within two months, OPM still processed fewer claims than it had projected for July. The agency expected to process 8,100 but only got to 7,872.

The agency had originally hoped to cut its retirement claims backlog to a manageable level by September 2013. But when sequestration cuts went into effect, OPM could not pay employees to work overtime and claims processing slowed.

OPM expects to receive 7,400 retirement claims in August and process 8,000.

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