Despite ongoing efforts to modernize, federal agencies still perform a large volume of manual data entry and paperwork. The result is a systemic slowdown in processes that can lead to longer wait time for retirement applications.
The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) released its monthly report outlining progress against the backlog of new retirement applications and their processing time for July. After two consecutive months of increases, the number of applications in the backlog remained largely unchanged with a 0.48% decrease from June.
The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is responsible for more than 100,000 retirement applications every year. Their goal is to process each application within 60 days of receiving it, but according to a recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, they struggled between 2014 and 2017 in doing so. While persistent, these issues can be addressed based on a series of recommendations made by GAO in their report.
The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) recently released its monthly report summarizing the number of new retirement applications received and processed and the average processing time through June. For the second month, the number of applications received increased and the number processed decreased, resulting in a 7% increase in the backlog.
Retirement processing delays can occur for many reasons. Some of these delays can be sourced to HR’s use of inefficient and incomplete retirement software systems and an inability to clearly and rapidly communicate retirement information to employees using the most up-to-date technology.
Retirement information includes a lot of paperwork and frequent communication. Using the latest technology, most of this paperwork can be completed electronically, and will be instantaneously transmitted between HR and the employee.
Processing an employee’s retirement application from the time it is submitted to the Human Resources (HR) office until the employee receives their interim and then full annuity payments can seem to take a long time. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) usually begins interim payments within four weeks while an employee’s full annuity check may take as long as 90-120 days.
Preparing a retirement calculation and application can be a time-consuming process involving several manual steps that can be inefficient for federal HR specialists. Technology can significantly improve on this, reducing the time it takes to complete an application, eliminating several sources of common errors, and improving communications between HR and employees.
There are more people eligible and preparing for retirement in the Federal Government than at any time in history. While the recent retirement numbers have remained relatively stable year over year, more than a whopping 30% of federal employees are currently eligible for retirement.
Concerns have been brewing for the past decade as the number of federal employees eligible for retirement soars. In 2000, there were around 94,000 federal employees aged 60 and above. By 2012, that number had soared north of 260,000. In 2018, there are an estimated 600,000 federal employees eligible for retirement under current guidelines. That is more than 30 percent of the total federal workforce.