The Social Security Administration has a new interim commissioner.
Earlier this month, President Biden fired Andrew Saul, who was appointed by President Trump in 2019 to a six-year term to oversee the agency.
The position of Social Security commissioner doesn’t usually change with an incoming administration. Biden fired Saul after he refused to resign and appointed Kilolo Kijakazi, he current deputy commissioner for retirement and disability policy, to serve as acting commissioner while the administration searches for a permanent replacement.
Saul is disputing his ouster, claiming that the president does not have the authority to fire him before the end of his term.
While brief, Saul’s term was controversial. He oversaw several proposals and changes in agency laws that made it more difficult for claimants to be approved for disability benefits.
Under his term, the disability program saw rule changes that made it more difficult for non-English speakers to qualify for benefits. A recent change to Listings also made it harder for claimants with back problems to be approved. Back problems continue to be one of the leading reasons that many individuals apply for disability.
More recently, the agency also sought to require those on disability to undergo more frequent reviews of their conditions-potentially ending benefits for millions of disabled people. That proposal was dropped when Biden took office.
Biden has previously expressed support for increasing funding for the Social Security Administration and expanding its supplemental security income program to increase benefits and make more individuals eligible, which the change in leadership could open the door for.