Andrew Saul was appointed by Trump as commissioner of the Social Security Administration on October 2, 2018. His six-year term was to expire in 2025, but President Biden fired him on July 9, 2021.
Saul protested his termination and claimed he would return to work on Monday. However, the Supreme Court has ruled that the president has the authority to fire the head of an independent agency.
As commissioner, Saul implemented policies to make it difficult for certain individuals to access benefits, which made him unpopular with many lawmakers and disability and retirement advocates. His stance against unions and delaying stimulus checks, also led many groups to push for his removal.
The White House stated that Saul was fired because his agenda was at odds with the mission of the Social Security Administration and that of President Biden’s. Biden has a plan to expand benefits and remove some obstacles that make it difficult to receive benefits. Meanwhile, Saul did not improve relationships with employee unions, terminated the agency’s telework policy, and undermined due process protections for appeals hearings.
The decision to fire Saul was praised by Democrats and progressive activists. On the other hand, Senate Republicans opposed Biden’s decision to fire Saul and accused him of politicizing a nonpartisan agency.
Biden appointed Kilolo Kijakazi to temporarily fill the position as commissioner of the Social Security Administration. Prior to this appointment, she served as deputy commissioner for retirement and disability policy at the Social Security Administration.
Kijakazi has already started working in her new role and discussions are underway regarding the reopening of local Social Security offices. Many individuals are anticipating the return of in person services, especially those who cannot access the internet.