7 ways to avoid unwanted OPM retirement delays

On Behalf of | Feb 10, 2022 | OPM - Disability Retirement

If you’re waiting for the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to process your retirement, you aren’t alone. If you’re thinking of applying for retirement, you want to make sure you get things right. January 2022 saw the OPM sitting on its largest backlog of retirement claims in nearly a decade.

As FedSmith notes, the OPM began the year with a backlog of more than 31,000 unprocessed retirement claims. This owes partially to the rush of retirement claims that comes with the end of every year. However, the OPM also saw a lower number of incoming claims than in previous years, meaning the backlog owed largely to lower efficiency.

It’s more important than ever to process your retirement correctly

No one wants to see their retirement claims buried beneath a mountain of paperwork. Even more, no one wants to wait for the OPM to work slowly through that paperwork only to declare there’s a problem with the application.

Last year, the Government Executive provided a number of retirement tips. As the backlog has grown, these tips have only become more important today. Some of the key points include:

  • Set aside enough money to wait out the delay. The OPM aims to process retirement claims within an average of 60 days, but they had slowed to an average of 90 days per claim by the end of 2021.
  • Make certain your application is 100% legible. One way to do this is to fill out the forms online.
  • Double-check and triple-check to make sure everything is accurate before you submit.
  • Keep copies of your application and service record.
  • Carefully review your Certified Summary of Federal Service once you receive it. Make sure this matches your information. If it doesn’t, you want to address the discrepancies before you leave your agency.
  • If you are applying for disability retirement, make certain you provide sufficient medical documentation to support your eligibility.
  • To qualify for disability retirement, you must have your agency certify two facts: It is unable to accommodate you in your current position. It is unable to accommodate you in another position at the same grade or pay level.

These steps can eliminate or reduce the chances of any nasty surprises. You want your retirement to reflect all your years of work; you don’t want typos in your dates of service.

Dealing with disability retirement denials

The OPM frequently denies disability retirement applications. These denials can be frustrating and time-consuming, but they aren’t always the end of the road. It is possible to appeal a disability retirement denial.

Your first option is to submit a request for reconsideration. If that doesn’t succeed, you can take your case to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB). Naturally, if the OPM rejected your application the first time around, you want to fix things before you appeal the decision. It’s often a good idea to review your case with an attorney who understands federal employment law.

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