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SSA Commissioner Nominee Completes Senate Hearing

2018 October 3
by Steve Perrigo

The Senate Finance Committee hearing on Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2018, to consider Andrew Saul as the next Social Security Administration (SSA) commissioner was relatively brief, but Senators were quick to zero in on several critical bi-partisan concerns – the disability hearing backlog, in-person field office service and modernization of agency technology infrastructure.

Saul is not well known in Social Security circles and had a large in-person audience, including representatives from Allsup, professional trade groups, non-profit organizations, House Ways & Means Social Security Subcommittee staff, media, and Saul family members.

Saul several times referred to his business experience and to his leadership of the Federal Retirement Thrift Board. He gave few specifics about plans for the SSA, but vowed he would work closely with Congress and “become an expert.”

Specifically, he pledged to conduct a “top-to-bottom” review of the disability hearing backlog and “get to the bottom of what’s going on. People are in really bad shape and need this help,” he said.

Several Senators asked for his position on privatizing the Social Security retirement program. Senator Wyden (D-OR) asked if Saul “supported” privatization and Saul responded “no.” The nominee went on to testify that “privatization is a decision of the U.S. Treasury and Congress.”

One topic noticeably missing was the recent Lucia Supreme Court case and subsequent Executive Order which puts the power of hiring Administrative Law Judges in the commissioner’s hands.   

Confirmation seems likely at this point and Saul would serve the remainder of the current term ending January 19, 2019.  At that time, he would again have to be nominated and confirmed for the next six-year term expiring in 2025.

No committee vote has been scheduled.

 

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