OPM Director Katherine Archuleta has been reducing the backlog of pension claims, but the number rose in July. (Mike Morones/Staff)
The backlog of pending pension claims at the Office of Personnel Management grew again in July, after having fallen four months in a row, according to numbers OPM released August 6.
OPM expected 8,000 retirement claims in July but received 9,101. The agency was able to process 7,872, pushing the overall inventory of claims from 12,391 to 13,620.
The agency had been slowly reducing the backlog in 2013, reaching a low in December of about 12,637. But that number nearly doubled over the following two months to 23,554 before starting to fall again in March.
OPM Director Katherine Archuleta said in a March 24 blog post the agency has made “significant improvements” in speeding up pension processing over the last year, and the backlog of claims was reduced 71 percent from January 2012 to September 2013. The average time to process a new retirement claim was 61 days — down from 91 days in July 2013 and 156 days in December 2011, according to Archuleta.
“Process improvements achieved through the hard work of our [Retirement Solutions] employees and strategic efforts have allowed for this reduction in inventory,” Archuleta said.
Archuleta said the agency has also begun a transition to a digital processing system and will be implementing a digital case management system to help process retirement claims.