Fewer federal employees filed for retirement in December than in any other month in 2012, according to the Office of Personnel Management. The number of claims filed 5,152 fell well below OPM’s projections of 7,000 claims.
Despite fewer claims than expected, the agency failed to meet its goal of processing 11,500 claims, and only managed to complete 10,454.
December marked only the second time in 2012 the agency failed to hit its processing target. The agency also fell short of its goal in April. Overall, retirement claims exceeded OPM’s projections in seven of the last 12 months, but the number of retirement claims appeared to stall at the end of the year.
But this is likely just the calm before the storm, according to OPM projections. The first of the year is a popular time to retire which could mean a large wave of retirement claims will hit in January. OPM predicts retirement applications filed this month to reach 21,000.
That will push the overall backlog of claims back up to nearly 39,000, but that is only half what it was in January 2012, when OPM rolled out a new management strategy to tackle the backlog.
OPM expects to continue processing 11,500 claims next month and for the foreseeable future. If all goes according to plan, OPM expects the backlog to be eliminated entirely by September.