President Biden on Friday fired Social Security Commissioner Andrew Saul, a holdover from the Trump administration who had alienated crucial Democratic constituencies with policies designed to clamp down on benefits and an uncompromising anti-union stance.
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.