The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) recently released some good news for federal employees looking to apply for disability retirement. The backlog of retirement applications is at its lowest point in all of 2022.
This is good news if you’re hoping to retire. The OPM typically receives a rush of applications at the close of the year. The data shows that the agency’s work to cut down on the backlog has left it in a better position to process your application.
OPM data includes disability retirement
Once the OPM approves a disability application, that application counts against the backlog. However, you won’t see the OPM record the processing time for your application until after approval. That means you can expect your application to take longer than the OPM average.
Meanwhile, the average processing time through November 2022 is actually a touch longer than it was in November 2021:
- Year-to-date average through November 2022 – 91 days
- Year-to-date average through November 2021 – 88 days
That said, the agency has actually processed far more applications through 2022 than it has in recent years. The fiscal year total of 114,505 applications processed is almost 18,000 more than the agency processed in 2021, and it’s the agency’s greatest yearly total since 2013.
4 tips for better results
Of course, there’s still plenty that you can do to take full advantage of this opportunity. This means making sure you do some things right:
- Clearly demonstrate you meet the six eligibility requirements
- Complete forms SF 3107 and SF 3112
- Provide proof that you applied for social security disability benefits (if you are under age 62)
- Contact your agency to make sure they forward your forms and any others you may need
4 mistakes to avoid
You also want to make sure to avoid the most common mistakes. As FedSmith noted in 2021, these may not be limited to proving your disability. Applicants make a host of errors with their applications that can slow them down or create other problems. These include:
- Missing signatures
- Service dates missing
- Failing to include FICA earnings or pay rates
- Not completing or attaching Schedule D
Get it right the first time around
Even though the OPM has been cutting down its backlog, it’s still averaging roughly three months to process an application. That can be a long time to wait, especially when you consider that time doesn’t include the review of your eligibility for disability retirement.
By working with an attorney who understands federal disability retirement, you can cut out the sorts of errors that would slow you down. You can file with confidence that you have the appropriate documentation. Your chances of receiving disability approval go up, and that means your overall processing time should go down.