OPM has loosened some of the standard rules regarding processing of federal employee retirement applications in light of the continuing high rate of teleworking, including among HR and payroll office employees involved in preparing an application to be sent to OPM.
A benefits administration letter addresses a concern being raised by employees at or near their retirement points regarding potential delays in a process that for years has been criticized as too slow, resulting in new retirees receiving only partial benefits in some cases for many months until OPM issues a final determination of benefits.
OPM suspended the requirements that paper documents with “wet” signatures—that is, originals signed in ink—for agency-submitted immediate retirement applications, as well as for death in service claims.
The suspension is only temporary, it added, and standard policies will return “once OPM determines normal operations can resume.”
OPM still will accept original signed documents, it said, as well as those that are signed and then scanned in, and pdf signatures meeting certain standards, it said.
However, it will not accept applications with signature blocks with notations such as “signature not available” and applications that contain incorrect information or are otherwise incomplete still will be deemed invalid and agencies will be required to resubmit documentation.
Further, agencies must maintain the proper chain of custody before submitting an application to OPM.