WASHINGTON, D.C. – Last week, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) applauded President Biden’s decision to fire both the current Social Security Commissioner Andrew Saul and Deputy Commissioner David Black. Saul and Black were key agents of the Trump agenda to systematically dismantle Social Security. Brown has been calling for the replacement of Saul and Black since February, when he demanded they resign in his first act as the new Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee’s Subcommittee on Social Security, Pensions, and Family Policy.

Social Security advocates and organizations have praised this move. Here is a look at what they’re saying about President Biden’s decision:

“Working families, seniors, and, indeed, everyone who supports Social Security owe Senator Brown a huge debt of gratitude for his crucial leadership in the successful fight to remove Donald Trump‘s Social Security commissionerThe American people deserve a commissioner who shares President Biden's and Senator Brown's vision and values: The next Social Security commissioner must be committed not only to first-class service but also to the protection and expansion of the benefits all of us have earned,” said Nancy J. Altman, President, Social Security Works.

“The Social Security Commissioner should reflect the values and priorities of President Biden which include improving benefits, extending solvency, improving customer service, reopening field offices, and treating SSA employees and their unions fairly.  That was not the case with former Commissioner Saul and we look forward to President Biden nominating someone who meets that standard,” said Max Richtman, President and CEO, National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare.

“The Association of Administrative Law Judges applauds President Biden's decision to remove Commissioner Saul. We also thank Senator Brown for taking the lead in calling for his removal. Commissioner Saul authorized no-holds-barred union busting at SSA, as well as the dismantling of America's safety net. We pledge our support for Acting Commissioner Kijakazi, and are committed to assisting her in strengthening and protecting the integrity of Social Security disability hearings,” Melissa McIntosh, President, Association of Administrative Law Judges (AALJ).

 "IFPTE is pleased to learn that a much-needed change at SSA has come to fruition. As IFPTE and the Association of Administrative Law Judges have maintained for over a year that former Commissioner Saul has failed to live up to his sworn testimony before Congress when he promised to foster collaborative and productive labor management relations at SSA. Instead, he and continued to encourage an environment at SSA which led to his agency earning the distinction as the number one union busters in the federal government. IFPTE applauds the Biden administration for today's actions, and we look forward to working with the new leadership at SSA,” said Paul Shearon, President, International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE).

Following the announcement, Sen. Brown vowed to work with Saul’s replacement to protect and expand the Social Security benefits that millions of Americans earned and rely on, improve administration of the Supplemental Security Income program, restore a productive relationship with the Social Security Administration’s employees, and more:

“Social Security is the bedrock of our middle class that Americans earn and count on, and they need a Social Security Commissioner who will honor that promise to seniors, survivors, and people with disabilities now and for decades to come. Instead, Andrew Saul tried to systematically dismantle Social Security as we know it from within,” said Brown. “I look forward to working with incoming Acting Commissioner Kijakazi, who shares our commitment to protecting and expanding Social Security.”

President Biden on Friday announced Kilolo Kijakazi will take over as Acting Commissioner. Kijakazi has served as the Social Security Administration’s Deputy Commissioner of the Office of Retirement and Disability Policy (ORDP) since January. Before that, she served as a Fellow at the Urban Institute, working to develop collaborative partnerships with organizations and individuals representing those most affected by pressing economic and social issues.

Saul and Black spent their time at the Social Security Administration pursuing Trump’s agenda to undermine Social Security, including regulations to:

  • Make it even harder for older, severely disabled people to access the essential income they’re qualified to receive.
  • Deny disability benefits for older, severely disabled people who are not fluent in English, resulting in an estimated 100,000 people being denied more than $5 billion in benefits.
  • Dramatically reduce due process protections for benefit appeals hearings by allowing SSA agency attorneys, instead of Administrative Law Judges, to preside over appeals hearings.
  • Provide beneficiaries with almost no relief from harsh requirements to repay extra benefits paid due to SSA action during the COVID-19 pandemic, through no fault of the individual.
  • Throw people off benefits by significantly increasing the number of disability case reviews resulting in an estimated $2.6 billion in benefit cutoffs.

Saul and Black also routinely attacked federal employees by forcing harsh union contracts that strip employees of their rights, vigorously enforced Trump’s anti-union Executive Orders and eliminated telework for employees.