OPM continues to whittle away at pension backlog


The Office of Personnel Management has cut its backlog of unprocessed pension claims by 21 percent in the five months since it unveiled a new strategy to fix the longstanding problem.

According to statistics posted online today, OPM cut the backlog by 1,150 cases in June, bringing the backlog down to 48,323 unprocessed claims. In January, when OPM announced its plan to fix its problematic pension process, the inventory was 61,108.

But even though OPM has made progress so far in 2012, the size of the backlog is still far greater than it was in October 2010, when OPM Director John Berry pledged to fix the problem. That month — when Federal Times first reported that many retirees were waiting six months to a year for pensions that were often half of what they were owed — OPM said it had 38,400 cases backlogged.

Still, OPM is making progress. The backlog has now fallen for five months straight. And OPM processed 8,964 cases in June, about the same amount as it processed in May. That is more than the 8,500 claims it expected to process in June.

And OPM received 7,814 retirement claims last month, slightly fewer than the 8,000 it expected.

For more information on what OPM is doing to fix this decades-old thorn in its side, read our exclusive interview with Associate Director of Retirement Services Ken Zawodny here, and our original story on OPM’s new strategy here.


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  1. I retired from the USPS on June 1 and had multiple conversations with OPM staff prior to my retirement. The people I dealt with exceeded my expectations. Each of the employees in St Louis, MO, Boyers, PA, and Washington, DC, were most helpful and went the extra mile! Cheers to all of the OPM folks for what they do.

  2. Its not helping me iv’e been waiting 7 months for my pension to get completed so they whittled it down why is it in Mar 2012 they processed 12,000 + packets, why cant they do that every month. there is no reason in hell why I should have to wait 7 or more months for my pension check.

  3. Retired 31 Dec 11. Received first interim payment on 1 Feb 12. I”m FERS retiree so I only get about 45% (no social security supplement until final disposition) of what I should be getting. I get my interim every month but other than that have not heard a word from OPM. I was prepared for this long term wait but after 37 years of federal service I feel we should be treated more fairly. So lets get the lead out of your shoes OPM and start doing the job you are being paid to do. I just wonder how long an OPM empoyee has to wait for their finalization…

  4. If things are done by hand, you need to hire more people to process the paperwork. If there was “REAL” concern, we would hear asses and elbows flying.

  5. Retired Feb. 29th 2012 and still waiting for my full amount. I just hope I get fully funded before the 7000+ Postmasters and Mail Handlers start overtaxing the OPM. I agree with PCS, everyone I have talkedto at OPM has been extreamly nice.

  6. Retired from PO Jan 3,2012. Just got my final paperwork for July 1st with full check. It took 5 months so all of you taking that early out be prepared to go awhile before you see your money. Oh by the way, my back pay came a couple days before my check also $3200.00 for the 5 months not bad OPB better than the guys before me that were waiting almost a year.

  7. I can retire optional, but this is one of the main reasons I’m not going yet. I can’t live without a check! But don’t you get a percentage????????

  8. I retired Dec 2010. OPM made a mistake in computing my retirement pay, which I appealed in May 2011. I am STILL waiting for my retirement pay to be corrected.

  9. I retired 30 November 2011 and am still on interim pay. I made two phone calls to OPM for status of my annuity and was told on 1 June that my case went to an analyst on 22 May; and on 1 July I was told my case went to a specialist on 29 Jun. At what tax rate will I be charged for the lump sum backpay of retirement and FERS Supplemental?

  10. My wife died January 1st. I immediately requested recalculation of my annuity to reflect no further survivor benefit and change health insurance from Self & Family to Self Only. In first week of July I got word that the insurance part had been completed effective Feb. 1 and I would get refund of excess withholding in August. Still no word on dropping the Survivor Benefit.

  11. I have given the Federal Government 41 years.
    I would like to retire this year. But I am afraid to do so, due to the backlog.
    I do not want to die on the job

  12. Kattie in Pensylvania on

    I retired Sept 20, 2011, and just got my FIRST FULL MONTHLY RETIREMENT last week on July 1st. I tried contacting my local Senators, and they couldn’t do a thing! So much for politicians… I think this is a horrific MESS for retirees to wait NINE months or more for the benefits they have worked for. I could’ve invested the money and made interest….which they sure don’t give you when you finally get what is truly due! Good Luck to those in the waiting line…..it’s a very stressful situation to be in, and I can relate and sympathize whole heartedly!!

  13. My wife retired last year under FERS and it took 9 months to finalize. The final was within a dollar of the Agency estmate so what takes OPM 9 months to validate?
    I retired in January under CSRS and am still receiving partial payments. It is great they are “nice” but if they were competent we wouldn’t even need to talk to them!

  14. I retired in 2009; there were no problems with OPM, after they received the paperwork from the agency I worked for. Sometimes it helps to call them before & after you retire; pleasantly ask them if there are any problems you could help them with.

  15. Retired from DOD 31 December 2011 received 1st interim check 1 Feb 2012 recieved 1st permenant check and back pay 1 Apr 2012. I did a bunch of pre-retirment “stuff” my (DOD) OPM identified two years prior to retiring, after attending a retirement seminar, to understand everything needed to fill all the squares to retire. On retirement, everything went much smother and quicker than expected, based on the backlog horrors I was reading. The pre-retirement checklist available from OPM worked in my case quite well. Need to start filling in the squares on the retiremnt checklist, especially if you have creditable active duty military to add/buy back to satisfy the “Catch 62” issue to your sevice time before your retirement. If these and other individual unique issues are not accounted for properily it delays the final retirement payment determination by OPM until they can find/address the missing information.

  16. I retired on January 1, 2011. My wife retired from the same agency on July3, 2011. She received her final pension seven months later. I have yet to receive my final. How does OPM work off the backlog. It seems having retired 6 months earlier my pension would have been worked to completion first. I have been unable to get a phone answered at OPM to get a status or an explanation.

  17. I retired on Dec 31, 2011 after 39 years in the same agency with no breaks in service. My retirement calculations couldn’t be easier but here I am, 7 months later with only a partial annuity. Every time I call OPM I get a busy signal or a notice that the wait will be over 20 minutes. Not at all impressed with their so called progress.

  18. Retired from USPS 5/31/2011. Received interim payments timely, but annuity wasn’t finalized until mid-March 2012. Almost ten months without anything from OPM except 2011 tax statement, and no way to check on status – very frustrating. Glad they’re getting it under control, but it would be helpful if they could give retirees a means of checking status.

  19. Retired May 31, 2011 and my FERS case was not even assigned until this month, 13+ months later, and only after I supplied copies of 6+ years of pay stubs from 30 years ago. It appears OPM is cutting the backlog by doing the “easy” cases first, i.e., CSRS. I think they should process them first come, first serve. My CSRS co-worker retired the day after me and her annuity was finalized 10 months ago. 4 other CSRS co-workers retired 6 or 7 months after me and have already had their annuities finalized. Discouraging.

  20. I retired end of Feb 2012 and haven’t seen an interim payment yet. I called once and was told it was still in the in-basket. So much for interim payments.

  21. I retired Dec 2011, CSRS after 39 yrs. When I got my booklet explaining my actual computation in March 2012 I was excited as I knew about the backlog(but I worked w/retirement at my agency way in advance to be sure all was correct). It was wrong; OPM took out the wrong FEHB & I’ve been calling OPM–spoke w/3 people so far & sending emails as well. The 1st person I spoke with told me she put in a form for correction & it should be completed 30-60 days. Nothing, I called again & 2nd person said they could not find anything & would send another request. I explained to this person I’d been trying to call (all I have is a cell phone) & have been left in the queue 30+ mins., been disconnected, etc. so I’ve been sending emails & heard nothing since then. She told me emails take about 12 wks. to be answered!Still nothing, called again & 3rd person told me there is no form,it’s an email they send to Washington & she has no idea how long it could take.She sent another email to Washington.If I had done my job this way, I would certainly have heard about it from my superiors!My husband has been out of work 3 yrs since his company went “belly up” & no one wants to hire an “old guy”. My next call will be to my Senator.

  22. Lee Christensen on

    I retired 12/03/2011, and have come to the conclusion that I wish I had worked till my death, so I would not have had to deal with OPM. I was told my annuity would be $6062 per month and I am being paid $1702 per month. That is 26% of what was promised. I worked 41 years and 11 months, and also had 11 months of sick leave. I contacted my US Senator, and OPM treates his staff as rudely as they do me. I cannot see how OPM continues to receive funding from Congress. My CSRS case was given to an “esculation team” in March. If I would have treated my customers so shabbily, I would have been fired long before working 42 years.

    I have written letters, sent emails, sent faxes and made at least 100 phone calls to OPM. I have notes and copies of contacts that fill a 1 1/2 binder. I would really like to relate my experiences to a Congressional hearing

  23. I sent a letter in February to change my life insurance coverage. I have called several times and I’m told they will send another ‘message’ to the department who handles that. When I called 2 weeks ago they said my file hadn’t even been pulled yet. It’s costing me an additional $300 per month that I can’t afford. It seems the backlog is not limited to recent retirees, but to anybody who has an issue to resolve with OPM.

  24. My experience is similar to most others. I retired under CSRS 5/1/2011 after 32 years Federal service. My agency makes OPF’s available online, and as they advised I reviewed mine to be sure everything was there. My file was complete and well-organized, and my agency’s retirement people also went thru it. Had some time as a summer intern for two agencies while in college, but my full-time work was with just two agencies, so my case was pretty simple. I appealed to my Congressman for help about 6 months into the process, and his staff couldn’t get anything out of OPM either. Finally got the notice of final annuity calculation the end of February, 2012, and got the first full annuity payment March 1, 10 months after I retired. Funny thing, someone who worked in the same office as me retired about 6 months earlier and got their final annuity 4 or 5 months after they retired. Wonder how the OPM employees would like it if they only got partial pay for 10 months at a stretch?

  25. If the only income I would have coming in would be the survivor annuity; Does this also take many months for someone to receive? what experience has anyone had in this regard?

  26. Sadie Cooper on

    I retired on January 31, 2012. I’ve ben witing patiently to hear from OPM for 5+ months while living on a $1,300 per month interim payment (which doesn’teven cover my mortgage) and savings. I called today for the first time and was tolthat my case was still in “Annuatent Holding” and had not been asigned to anyone yet. The person I talked to said it could take 9 months. But wo knows? I am starting to get frightened!

  27. Beverly Haran on

    I retired on an early-out in 1996. It wasn’t enough to live on, so I went back to work for 5 years and retired again on 11/30/11. All I am getting is my original pension which is 55% of the estimate – no interim.

    I finally got the name of the caseworker, but after many months and phone calls, I have received no responses. DOES ANYONE KNOW HOW TO GET THE NAME OF A CASEWORKER’S SUPERVIOSOR AT OPM?

    The one time I did talk with someone was not helpful. NARFE contacted OPM to try and help me get an interim – they got nowhere. My Senator contacted them – nothing so far. I’ve emailed and sent letters and nothing other than the name of the caseworker – a lot of good that did!

    I am shocked that some people have gotten their final results and other’s are still waiting. No consistency. Mine should be simple – CSRS, the first 28 years already vetted and the last 5 years in the same job. I had no complicating factors.

  28. I retired July 1, 2011. I finally received my notice of final calculation the week of July 8th, 2012. My first full check will be Aug 1, 2012. More than a year. Those of you who had to wait only 6 or 9 months should be happy. It could have been worse. I also want to say that everyone I talked to at OPM were very nice.

    Part of the problem is that OPM blames the individual agency if they do not have all of the paperwork. Over half of federal employees were on the electronic OPF (eOPF) when I retired on July 1, 2012. If the agency does as they are requried, they retire the eOPF 90 days after an employee departs. For OPM too go back to the agency 6 or 9 months after an individual retires is crazy. The Agency no longer has access to the employee’s eOPF. eOPF’s belong to OPM and they need to share access within all areas of OPM. The retirement folks should have direct access to the eOPF’s so they can simply go there and get the info they need and not blame it on the individual agency. We gave investigator’s full time access to eOPF’s why can’t the retirement folks be given the same access?

  29. I retired 1/31/12. I still have not hear anything on my final annuity. Our personnel staff gave us a warning this might happen after I signed my retirement papers. They told me I could not go back on my decision. I am looking for employment. Allot of good it did me to retire.

  30. Dorothy Ladner on

    My husband and I both retired in 2001, after 32+ yrs of servicetime. Both annuties took less than 2 months to process. My husband passed away in 2010, and again within 2 months the suvivor annunity and my recalculated annunity were finalized. Ample time frame in my estimation.

  31. steven eberhart on

    Retired April 30, 2011. In Nov. 2011 received letter stating that if i sent in 40$ my annunity would be increased by 3$ a month. a no brainer, right. well, now it is Aug. 2012 and still nothing. should have left well enough alone. our government is a wreck.

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