(Washington, DC) – The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is facing a growing backlog of processing retirement claims for Federal employees. Some are surprised, but should they be?
During the first two months of 2013, OPM processed 27,900 applications. During the first two months of 2014, OPM processed 18,500 applications. That’s a 34% drop. At the end of February, OPM had 23,600 unprocessed claims – 86% more than they had at the end of December 2013.
OPM had a huge backlog of retiree claims until 2013, when it made great strides in reducing the number of waiting annuitants. But things changed in 2013 that likely are contributing to the increasing numbers in 2014.
After a multi-year pay freeze, Federal employees got a 1% raise for FY2014. Since retirement pay is based on your salary at the time of retirement, many Federal employees stuck around several more years than originally intended, waiting for the pay raise that many thought would never come.
“We estimate that about 1,000 Federal employees died while postponing their retirement and waiting for their pay to increase,” said an OPM spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity. “That’s not such a bad thing for us because now we save on retirement benefits! A negative is that about 100 employees died at their desks, so we had extra costs for body removal. And one guy died on a Friday evening ahead of a three-day weekend for a Federal holiday. We had to have the floor fumigated.”
Additionally, OPM announced on January 22 it was laying off 300 employees in the name of budget reductions. The unlucky 300, whose last day is March 28, were in neither middle management nor upper management positions, leading some to question OPM’s cost-cutting excuse.
“You cut a significant number of employees from our agency,” said an OPM spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity. “And then you’re concerned, upset, and complaining that the level of service has dropped? What did you think was going to happen?”
But Federal employees were having none of it. “I’ve been waiting for my payments for months,” said a recent Federal retiree, speaking on condition of anonymity. “It’s really cramping my lifestyle. How am I expected to make my lease payments on my Mercedes? And how am I supposed to make the mortgage payments on my summer house on the Eastern Shore [of Maryland]?
“It’s just not fair. If I had wanted to deal with this kind of ineptitude, I would have stayed at my agency!”