Federal retirement claims fall last month but OPM predicts swell in January

Wednesday - 12/5/2012, 3:14pm EST

The Office of Personnel Management received fewer retirement claims in November than in any month since February this year, according to new data from the agency.

But this is likely just the calm before the storm, according to OPM projections, which anticipate a wave of retirement claims in January.

Overall, federal employees filed 6,584 retirement claims last month; OPM predicted receiving 7,000. It's the fourth time this year the number of claims OPM received fell below expectations.

OPM, however, beat expectations when it came to processing those claims. The agency projected it would process 11,500 claims last month but actually processed 11,966.

OPM has consistently met its processing goals, meeting expectations in every month this year but one.

That has helped OPM chip away at a longstanding backlog of retirement claims that long plagued the agency.

The backlog now stands at 31,704 claims — nearly half what it was in January, when OPM rolled out a new management strategy to tackle the backlog.

OPM expects to receive 7,000 claims in December ahead of an anticipated wave of applications — 21,000 — in January, typically a popular time to retire for federal employees. Last year, OPM expected to receive 21,000 claims last January and actually received slightly more than that.

OPM plans to continue processing at least 11,500 claims each month and plans to eliminate the backlog entirely by September 2013.

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