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Retirement Services

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Customer service is at the core of everything we do at the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). The President’s fiscal year 2017 budget proposal released this week embraces that core principle and provides additional funding for OPM’s efforts to improve customer service for Federal retirees and their families.

Each year, more than 1.5 million current or retired Federal employees and their families call OPM’s Retirement Services team with a wide range of questions. We also receive more than 280,000 questions via email and more than 100,000 new retirement claims each year. Requests for assistance range from tax questions to inquiries about what happens when a Federal retiree has passed away. And we hear from Federal employees who have detailed questions at each step in the retirement process.

Each of these interactions is important, and every one of these individuals is entitled to a timely, accurate, and detailed response. At OPM, we are consistently working to improve the quality of this experience for our customers. The President’s budget provides additional funding to help us decrease the amount of time a customer has to wait to talk to a representative or get a response to their email. And, the added resources will help us reduce the time it takes to process a retirement claim.

At Retirement Services, 80 percent of our budget is devoted to personnel. But, at certain times in the year that is not enough and we need to add to our customer service staff to help handle spikes in retirement claims.

For example, the beginning of each year is the busiest, with 26 percent of retirement claims being filed during the first six weeks of the year. In January, we brought detailees on board from the human resources retirement sections of the United States Postal Service (USPS) and from the Defense Finance and Accounting Services (DFAS) to help us handle the dramatic increase in claims.

While we certainly benefit from the dedication of these public servants, their service also improves the entire retirement process. When they return to their home agencies, they bring with them increased knowledge of our process, enabling them to better prepare retirement claims for processing by OPM.

We are constantly working to improve the customer experience. We are administering surveys and analyzing the data to identify customer service trends and to zero in on areas where improvement and change is needed. We are also updating our training and are tracking the progress of employees who take our customer service courses.

Retirement Services is also consistently upgrading and adding features to our Retirement Services Online website servicesonline.opm.gov and providing web-based tutorials for customers. Retirees can use the website to update their mailing addresses, change their Federal and state income tax withholding designations, request a duplicate annuity booklet or print their Retirement Services ID card. The more retirees and their families turn to our online services for basic needs, the quicker our team can respond to more complex questions.

We want the customer service experience to be excellent for each Federal employee who has served this great nation and deserves to receive accurate and timely benefits. The President’s FY2017 budget will help us deliver on this important goal.


At OPM, our Retirement Services staff works hard each and every day to provide the best customer service we can to our Federal retirees and their families. I know that as tax season approaches and the new cost of living increases take effect, many of our annuitants have questions.

I also know that the phone lines to RS can be especially busy now. So I want to make sure you know about our Services Online website. This portal is easy to navigate and allows retirees to access their retirement accounts 24/7.  Retirees can update mailing addresses and change their Federal and state income tax withholding. We’re always updating this website, based in large part on your feedback and requests. For example, retirees can now request a duplicate annuity booklet from Services Online. Also new is a feature that allows retirees to look at and print their Retirement Services ID Cards.

Signing up is easy. If you have a Civil Service Annuity or Civil Service Final Number, you can use this portal.  Once you’re on the login page, you can request a password by email or regular mail and set up your account. You will then have immediate access to Services Online.

If you want to get an early start on filing your taxes, you can go to Services Online and print your 1099R, the form retirees need to complete their filings. The system also includes information from the past two years if you need previous tax information. Otherwise, watch your mailbox. The 1099R forms for 2014 will be mailed by January 30, 2015. 

As I said, there’s a new cost of living, or COLA, rate. It was reflected in the January 2, 2015 payments. The COLA increase was 1.7 percent for retirees. The full increase is paid to retirees who began receiving retirement payments on or before December 30, 2014. You can get more information about the COLA increases on our website

As always, we look forward to continuing to serve our retirees and their families. We appreciate and are thankful for their years of dedication to public service.  We are always looking for new and innovative ways to provide more accessibility for our annuitants to get the information they need, when they need it.

Let us know how we can better serve you. And stay tuned, there’s more to come. 

Hand holds computer mouse while typing on a computer keyboard 


The Office of Personnel Management is committed to the accurate and timely processing of retirement claims to Federal retirees.  In recent months, we have taken steps to reduce the backlog in processing Federal employee retirement requests, addressed the needs of the Retirement Services (RS) Information Technology system and improved customer service in RS.

Because of the hard work of our employees, OPM has made significant improvements to retirement processing efforts over the past year.  As of the end of fiscal 2013, the claims inventory was 17,719 cases – a 71 percent reduction since the peak of 61,108 cases in January 2012.  As of February 2014, the average time to process a new retirement claim was 61 days. The average processing time was 91 days in July of 2013 and 156 days in December 2011.  While annuitants wait for their final monthly annuity, OPM places new retirees on interim pay which on average constitutes approximately 80% of their final pay within 7 days of notification of their retirement.  Process improvements achieved through the hard work of our RS employees and strategic efforts have allowed for this reduction in inventory.  
 
While parts of the retirement process remains paper-based, OPM has begun a gradual transition to a fully digital process. Since 2005, new employees’ data is all maintained electronically.  The OPM Strategic Plan and OPM Strategic IT Plan outline the fully electronic process using that data.  Once the transition is complete, most retirement data will be electronic, and the vast majority of records will be sent automatically through the system to the points where a human decision-maker is still needed.

We are expanding on the Retirement Case Management System being developed with resources Congress provided in 2014. We are doing that by moving to align our retirement processing systems to a common IT platform with other OPM activities. This will make it easier to accomplish future incremental retirement processing improvements and take advantage of data OPM will gather throughout an employee’s career lifecycle.

The IT improvements included in the President’s fiscal 2015 Budget request are based on the Retirement Services Strategic Plan and similar successful information technology initiatives. In addition, we are working closely with major commercial providers of IT services that support agencies’ retirement application processing to ensure that Retirement Services information technology systems are compatible and consistent with current technology.

While OPM has made progress, I will work closely with leadership and employees to continue to improve the services that our customers deserve and expect.  We are working to prioritize claims processing, customer service, and IT modernization, including the development of a case management system for Retirement Services.

I remain humbled by the hard work and dedication of OPM employees, and want to assure the Federal workforce that I remain focused on providing RS the tools it needs, including to  improve Retirement Services IT.

We will continue to make every effort to provide the excellent and timely service that our world class Federal workforce deserves.


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