Abromson & Carey, Attorneys at Law
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Eyes on new president to choose new Commissioner

Many residents of Newark, New Jersey, may not realize this, but the Social Security Administration has not had a "permanent" leader, chosen by the President and confirmed by the Senate for a six-year term, in about four years. The Administration has instead by relying on acting leaders who are usually full-time civil administrators as opposed to people who come and go depending on who is in power.

It is not surprising that the new President is not nominating a new Commissioner right away, as such nominations generally take the backburner to Cabinet appointments and other more pressing business in the first 100 days. What is more surprising is that there hasn't been a Commissioner since the six-year terms of the previous Commissioner expired in 2013. The former President nominated a replacement, but the Senate chose not to confirm the nomination.

It does seem to be business as usual at the Administration even without a permanent Commissioner. The Administration is facing more uncertainty about the future of its program given that there is ongoing Congressional pressure to scale back on entitlements and similar programs, which would include SSD benefits. One of the cornerstones of the President's campaign was that he had no plans to scale back the program; however, such decisions are generally made by Congress.

Nevertheless, more than one Senator has admitted that naming a new Commissioner is important, as the Administration, like all agencies, benefit from stable leadership that "acting" leaders often cannot provide fully.

In any event, Newark residents, particularly those who are disabled and are either receiving or thinking about applying for SSD benefits, should pay attention to developments, particularly when the President eventually makes a nomination. The new Commissioner will, after all, be in charge of enforcing a system of federal regulations that ultimately guide whether a disabled person will get the replacement income he or she needs.

Source: The Baltimore Sun, "Social Security waits anxiously for Trump to nominate commissioner," John Fritze, Feb. 5, 2017.

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