The Office of Personnel Management reported a 21 percent drop in the number of pension claims processed in June, compared with a month earlier. (Staff)
The Office of Personnel Management’s processing of pension claims continued to nosedive last month following the elimination of overtime for employees in the agency’s retirement services division, according to statistics released Friday.
In June, OPM processed 8,683 claims from recent retirees, an almost 21 percent drop from the May total of 10,954 and down 36 percent since April. But the agency still managed to stay slightly ahead of the infllux of new claims, meaning that the backlog of unprocessed claims fell from 26,210 in May to 25,542 last month.
On April 28, OPM halted all retirement services overtime, saying the step was needed to avoid furloughing employees because of sequester-related budget cuts. But the agency warned that the overtime cuts would likely mean that pensions would take longer to calculate.
Progress in reducing the chronic claims backlog could also be hindered by OPM’s decision in late May to offer buyouts and early retirements to up to almost 300 employees, including 17 in retirement services.
OPM has long struggled to quickly and accurately process pensions. Beginning in January 2012, when the claims backlog stood at more than 61,000, OPM hired more staff to process retirement claims and field public inquiries. The agency also increased the use of overtime, and overhauled its processes. From a peak of 15,333 claims processed in February, however, the numbers have dropped every month since.