Saul, who was fired on Friday, said he does not intend to leave and claims the White House’s move to fire him as the head of the independent agency, which usually doesn’t change along with a new administration, is illegal. Saul’s six-year term was supposed to run until January 2025.
“I consider myself the term-protected commissioner of Social Security,” Saul told The Washington Post while calling the attempt to unseat him a “Friday Night Massacre.”
But the Biden administration cited a Supreme Court ruling establishing the president’s ability to remove Saul from the role.
According to the Post, Saul — who says he’s “very upset” and boasted “I quite frankly feel I’m doing an excellent job there” — has been accused by workers’ rights advocates of using union-busting tactics. And advocates for the elderly and disabled people say Saul has delayed stimulus checks by withholding information that the IRS needs to release the funds.
“Since taking office, Commissioner Saul has undermined and politicized Social Security disability benefits, terminated the agency’s telework policy that was utilized by up to 25 percent of the agency’s workforce, not repaired SSA’s relationships with relevant federal employee unions including in the context of Covid-19 workplace safety planning, reduced due process protections for benefits appeals hearings, and taken other actions that run contrary to the mission of the agency and the president’s policy agenda,” a White House statement said.
Saul defended his delay of relief funds, saying he was concerned about fraud. “It’s unfair to the people who deserve the benefits,” he said.
As to Saul’s threat to not leave office, according to federal personnel experts who spoke to the Post, the administration can stop paying him and block him from accessing the agency’s computer networks.
Biden named Kilolo Kijakazi as acting commissioner while the administration conducts a search for a permanent commissioner and deputy commissioner.