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US Social Security boss, installed by Trump and fired by Biden, vows to stay on

Andrew Saul, a Jewish philanthropist, insists he is doing an ‘excellent job’ at stemming abuse of the benefits system; the White House says he is ‘undermining’ it

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 2, 2018. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images via JTA)
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 2, 2018. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images via JTA)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Andrew Saul, the Social Security Administration Commissioner who US President Joe Biden fired last week, claimed the move was illegal and vowed to stay in the post.

Saul, a businessman who has donated heavily to Jewish causes, gave the comment to The Washington Post on Friday.

Biden said the Trump-appointed official was thwarting changes that Biden wanted at the agency. The government is able to cut off access to computer networks, so it’s not clear what options Saul has.

Democrats, government unions, and advocates for the disabled and the elderly had all pressed for the removal of Saul.

“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 in a statement to the Post.

Saul said he had made the administration more efficient and had stemmed what he said was an abuse of work from home policies.

“I quite frankly feel I’m doing an excellent job there,” he said.

His term was due to last through 2025. Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, said the firing “politicized” the agency.

Saul, also a major donor to the Republican Party, was a classmate of Donald Trump at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

He was confirmed as Social Security Administration Commissioner in 2019 and immediately sought reforms to stem what the Trump administration officials said were fraudulent abuses of the system. Social Security beneficiaries said it became difficult to claim much-needed relief.

Saul, 74, has had a successful career in fashion and investment. He says on his official Social Security Administration biography that he formerly served as a board member of the United Jewish Appeal Federation of New York.

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