Pension processing times increase again at the end of 2021

After a brief reprieve in November, the processing time for federal pension applications slowed further in the last month of the year. The average monthly claims processing time in December fell to 92 days, on par with the average August through October, after dropping to 79 days in November.

The latest pension data from the Office of Personnel Management also showed that so far average processing times for the fiscal year increased to 89 days in December, from 88 days in November. While still shorter than the October peak, average exercise times have not dropped below 80 days since then.

New federal pension claims fell in December, as did the number processed. New requests stood at 7,569 in December, up from 8,266 in November, while the number processed fell to 7,200 after 8,010 processed in November. The backlog increased by 369 claims to 26,730 last month, which is still more than double OPM’s steady state target of 13,000 claims.

Initial retirement files produced in less than 60 days on average took 44 days to process; while cases that were produced in more than 60 days on average took 114 days to complete, the OPM said in its report. The agency has struggled to process claims at pre-pandemic levels as its own workforce and those of the agencies that provide it with information about the staff to handle these claims are increasingly remote.

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