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Biden fires head of Social Security Administration, a Trump holdover ...

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Andrew Saul
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Kilolo Kijakazi
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The New York Times
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His deputy, David Black, who served as the agency’s top lawyer before his appointment by former president Donald Trump, resigned Friday upon request.Biden named Kilolo Kijakazi, the current deputy commissioner for retirement and disability policy, to serve as acting commissioner until the White House identifies a permanent nominee to lead the agency.As the head of an independent agency whose leadership does not normally change with a new administration, Saul’s six-year term was supposed to last until January 2025.The White House said a recent Supreme Court ruling, followed by a Justice Department memo on Thursday affirming the president’s authority “to remove the SSA Commissioner at will,” gave the president power to treat the position like that of other traditional political appointments.But Saul said in an interview Friday afternoon that he would not leave his post, challenging the legality of the White House move to oust him.“I consider myself the term-protected commissioner of Social Security,” he said, adding that he plans to be back at work on Monday morning, signing in remotely from his New York home. Angry advocates say he dawdled while millions of disabled Americans waited for him to turn over files to the Internal Revenue Service to release their stimulus checks — and accused him of an overzealous campaign to make disabled people reestablish their eligibility for benefits.“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.The White House declined to comment on Saul’s threat that he would not give up his post.

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