Biden fires Social Security boss, a Trump appointee who refused to resign

New York businessman Andrew Saul testifies before the Senate Finance Committee during his confirmation hearing to be commissioner of the Social Security Administration in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill October 02, 2018 in Washington, DC.

Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images

President Joe Biden on Friday fired the head of the Social Security Administration after the official, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump, refused to resign.

The White House said the Social Security commissioner, Andrew Saul, “undermined and politicized” the agency’s benefits, among other things that warranted his firing. Saul’s deputy, David Black, who was also appointed by Trump, resigned on Friday after the White House’s request.

“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,” the White House said.

Saul told The Washington Post, however, that he plans to log back into work on Monday. 

CNBC Politics

Read more of CNBC’s politics coverage:

“This was the first I or my deputy knew this was coming,” Saul told the newspaper, referring to the email he received from the White House Personnel Office on Friday morning. “It was a bolt of lightning no one expected. And right now it’s left the agency in complete turmoil.”

Saul, 74, is a longtime Republican donor, a former vice chairman of New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority and a wealthy businessman who turned around women’s apparel company Cache.

The president appointed Kilolo Kijakazi, who is currently the deputy commissioner for retirement and disability policy, as acting commissioner, a White House official told NBC News.

Kijakazi previously worked as a fellow at the Urban Institute, a program officer for the Ford Foundation and a senior policy analyst for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. A search for commissioner and deputy commissioner will be conducted.