OPM has been issuing monthly reports in recent years on its processing time for retirement applications but starting with the November report it is providing more details.

Processing time at OPM is important to employees preparing for retirement because until an application hits what OPM calls the final adjudication, new retirees receive only smaller “interim” payments. The payments are supposed to average about 80 percent of the estimated actual amount but in practice often are lower due to factors such as court orders and the need to coordinate with Social Security, which is burdened with backlogs of its own.

Those who had been planning budgets based on their own calculations of the monthly amount can find themselves living on less, potentially much less, for an extended period.

OPM’s goal is to process 90 percent of applications within 60 days of receiving them from the employing agency–a process that commonly starts off with delays lasting weeks in the agency sending the needed information. Up to now, OPM has shown only how it has done on that goal on a year-to-date basis, but now has started reporting on what percentage of cases closed each month met the goal.

The figures show wide variation over the last 12 months, from as high as 86 for cases closed in March to as low as 26 percent for cases closed in the following month. For the latest reported month, October, it was 74 percent, which was also the year to date average.

Also newly disclosed is the average time cases that were closed per month spent in processing. For those closed within the 60-day goal, the average ranged from 33 to 49 days, with the October figure in the middle at 38 days. For those not closed within the goal, the average ranged from 74 to 107 days, with October toward the low end at 86.