For the first time since 2013, the Social Security Administration has a confirmed Commissioner. On June 4th, the Senate voted to confirm Andrew Saul to be Commissioner of SSA for the term expiring January 19, 2025. The vote was 77-16 (with 7 not voting). It came after the Senate passed a Cloture Motion on June 3rd, which allowed for a confirmation vote with limited debate. Mr. Saul is now the proper defendant in Social Security cases and, under Fed. R. Civ. P. 25(d)(1) and 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), is automatically substituted in pending actions.
Mr. Saul has no history with the Social Security Administration. He served as Chairman of the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board, the agency which manages the retirement Thrift Savings Plan for federal employees. He was also previously Chairman of the Manhattan Transportation Authority (MTA) in New York City and served on the board of the Manhattan Institute, a think tank. President Trump nominated him in 2018 but there was no confirmation vote, so he was renominated on January 16, 2019 for the remainder of the term that ended on January 19, 2019, as well as for the following six-year term.
At his confirmation hearing held in October 2018, Mr. Saul emphasized his desire to do a “top to bottom” review of many of SSA’s policies, including the disability programs and IT modernization plans. Although he stated that he did not support efforts to privatize Social Security during the Bush administration, he did not express his own views on privatization. Similarly, he would not say whether he shared the conservative views of the Manhattan Institute. Mr. Saul has said that his role as Commissioner of Social Security would be to manage the agency and that the issues of Social Security solvency should be taken up by the Treasury department and the legislative branch. NOSSCR is requesting a meeting with Mr. Saul but expects that he may not reply for some time given his considerable new workload.
by Paul B. Burkhalter Managing Partner of Morgan & Weisbrod, Board Certified in Social Security Disability Law.