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Retirement Planning > Social Security

Social Security Administration Violating Law With Acting Commissioner Status

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The Government Accountability Office said Tuesday that the Social Security Administration is in violation of the Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998 because Acting Commissioner Nancy Berryhill has served for too long.

An acting commissioner can only serve for 210 days. No commissioner has been nominated by President Donald Trump to replace Berryhill, who’s been serving in her role since Jan. 20, 2017.

Rep. Sam Johnson, R-Texas, chairman of the House Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee, plans to hold a hearing on Wednesday to discuss the need for a Senate-confirmed commissioner to lead the SSA, the challenges and limitations faced by the SSA when it is led by an acting commissioner, and the legal framework for filling a vacancy.

To date, the amount of time that the SSA has been without a Senate-confirmed commissioner “marks the longest amount of time any major federal agency has gone without a Senate-confirmed leader since 1995, when the SSA became an independent agency,” Johnson said.

The Social Security Administration “has been without a Senate-confirmed commissioner for more than five years and has instead been operating with an acting commissioner. While Acting Commissioner Berryhill has done an admirable job, at the end of the day, the acting head of an agency is just that: acting,” Johnson added. “They do not have the authority to provide the long-term strategic vision that is critical for success. Important decisions are being put off and service has deteriorated because this agency is lacking a leader.”

The president, Johnson added, “needs to nominate a Social Security commissioner now.”

Commissioner Michael Astrue’s term expired on Jan. 19, 2013.


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