- Biden dismissed SSA Commissioner Andrew Saul after he refused to resign, the White House said.
- The Social Security Administration operates independently and pays out more than $1T per year.
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden fired Social Security Commissioner Andrew Saul, a holdover from President resign at the president’s request.. The latter regularly drew criticism from Democrats, unions, and advocates for the social welfare program. The White House confirmed the termination, saying Saul was notified of the decision after refusing to
A White House official accused Saul of taking action that “undermined and politicized Social Security disability benefits,” hurt relationships with federal employee unions, and ran “contrary to the agency’s mission and the President’s policy agenda.” Saul’s six-year term leading the Social Security Administration would have ended in January 2025. Still, the White House cited recent rulings to argue that the president can replace him.
The, which first reported Saul’s firing, quoted the former SSA commissioner as “very upset” at his abrupt dismissal. Saul said he intended to sign in to work remotely from his New home on Monday.
“I consider myself the term-protected Commissioner of Social Security,” he said. “This was the first my deputy or I knew this was coming,” Saul added, describing his firing as a “Friday Night Massacre” that left the SSA in turmoil.
SSA Deputy Commissioner David Black agreed to resign Friday. Biden appointed Kilolo Kijakazi, deputy commissioner for Retirement and Disability Policy at SSA, acting commissioner until the search for a permanent commissioner and deputy commissioner is completed.
Saul, a wealthy New York businessman, owner of a women’s apparel company, and a prominentin 2018. He was confirmed by the to serve a six-year term.
The Social Security Administration, which has operated independently since 1994, pays out more than $1 trillion to 65 million beneficiaries yearly. Progressives slammed Saul’s leadership repeatedly, calling out his lack of experience in the SSA, proposals to rein in benefits, and regular union clashes.
“Unfortunately, since confirmation, Mr. Saul and Mr. Black have made a habit of undermining our Social Security system and the SSA federal workforce,” Alex Lawson, executive director of Social Security Works, wrote in a letter tofor their removal. Republicans in Congress quickly blasted Saul’s termination.
“politicization of the Social Security Administration,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell tweeted. Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee ranking member, and Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, ranking member of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, also . In a joint statement, they said Social Security beneficiaries “stand the most to lose from President Biden’s partisan decision.”
“It is disappointing that the Administration is injecting politics into the agency, given that Commissioner Saul was confirmed with bipartisan approval, worked closely with both parties in Congress, and provided smooth benefit andduring the largest management challenge ever faced. The leading group that represents SSA employees celebrated Saul’s departure. By the agency.”
Ralph de Julius, general counsel for the American Federation of Government Employees’ General Committee for SSA, representing 45,000 employees, called it “a new day at the Social Security Administration.”
de Julius said Saul and Black spent nearly three years “dragging down the quality of service the American people deserve.” He accused them of destroying employee morale, mismanaging stimulus relief funds for the elderly and disabled, and creating an “anti-employee, anti-union workplace.”
“Presidentto send these Trump appointees packing and instead appoint someone dedicated to investing in Social Security,” he said. Reach Joey Garrison on Twitter @joeygarrison.