FEDweek

Processing of Retirement Applications Still Lags

OPM in 2016 processed a higher percentage of applications for retirement within its target of 60 days than it did in 2015 but still fell well short of its goal of completing 90 percent of them within that time, the agency has reported to Congress.

The 77 percent finished in that amount of time was better than the 70 percent of 2015 but below the 79 percent of 2014. Of those meeting that timeframe, the average processing time was 45 days. Of those taking more than 60 days, the average was 100 days.

The figures include only the time an application spends at OPM; agencies typically take several weeks or more after an employee retires to provide OPM with the information it needs to start its process.

OPM has struggled for many years to speed up the processing of applications, at one point launching a major technology-based project that later had to be abandoned due to its unreliability.

While retirement applications are pending, new retirees receive interim payments that commonly average about 80 percent of the final amount, although in some cases those payments are much lower. When the final benefit is calculated, retirees receive a payment for the difference.